Moonlight, Juno, Slumdog Millionaire: How one big idea led to 48 Oscar wins

Author and Marketing Expert
February 8, 2018

Can't watch another generic Hollywood film? Here, marketing expert Nilofer Merchant tells the incredible story of former data analyst Franklin Leonard who shook up the repetitive Hollywood formula with a single innovation: The Black List. In 2005, when Leonard was working as a development executive for a film production company and lamenting the same-old, same-old scripts that were being turned into movies, he came up with the idea to email 75 fellow producers to get a list of the scripts they absolutely loved that year, but that were skipped over for production. From that annual list of rejects come films like Moonlight, Juno, The Revenant, Argo, American Hustle, Slumdog Millionaire, The Descendants. Sound familiar? That's because they're all Oscar winners. The 331 films from The Black List that have been produced to date have led to 241 Academy Award nominations and 48 subsequent Oscar wins. Merchant lays this out as a practical lesson in innovation: what can you or your company gain by inviting ideas in from innovators on the fringe? What happens when you stop asking, "How can we make money?" and start asking people, "What do you love?" Nilofer Merchant is the author of The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World.