Why ‘Oblivion’ Writer and Oscar-Winner William Monahan Wasn’t Credited

Credit: Universal Pictures; Jean Catuffe/INFPhoto

The notion doesn’t come up when we’re tucked into a movie theater seat watching the latest and greatest big budget blockbuster, but making a movie is an evolutionary process. Take Oblivion, for instance.

The hiring an Oscar-winning screenwriter to take on an original idea is music to the ears of any moviegoer. In the case of Oblivion, director Joseph Kosinski’s science fiction pitch, the sound was even sweeter. Rarely does Hollywood take a chance on an original blockbuster, but when William Monahan, Oscar-winner for Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, was hired to pen the picture, the gamble made perfect sense.

Monahan signed on to the movie in 2010 when Oblivion was still at Disney. The script would be based off Kosinski’s original ideas, first put to print in a graphic novel version of the pitch. Hiring Monahan was a promise: fans would be getting a fresh sci-fi tale from a visionary director, brought to life by a guy with golden proof of his skills.

Like with most films, writing Oblivion didn’t stop at Monahan’s initial draft. The movie eventually jumped from Disney to Universal, and between 2010 to 2012 when Oblivion began shooting, other writers including Karl Gajdusek (Tresspass) and Michael Ardnt (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) were brought on to rewrite and polish the work. The real surprise is the crediting in the final film — while many writers who write the first drafts of a movie receive “Written by” credits, even if their work has drastically changed, Monahan’s name is nowhere to be found.

Why? Hollywood.com reached out to the writer to see exactly why the movie opted out of including his name. According to Monahan’s reps’ official statement:

“William Monahan did not seek screen credit on Oblivion. He did one contractual draft two years ago and there have been other writers under Joe’s specific direction since then, as well as creative work between Joe and Tom. He regards the picture as Joe’s baby, hopes he was of some assistance in realizing a long-standing ambition to bring Oblivion to the screen, and wishes Joe and Tom and Universal all success. He looks very much forward to seeing the picture.”

Those who caught Oblivion in theaters likely saw a version that took cues from Monahan’s script, but either enough of it was altered or Monahan didn’t see enough of his work in the finished film to feel a credit was deserving. Luckily for Kosinski, Oblivion still gets to pack the “Oscar-winning writer” credit: Ardnt picked up an Academy Award in 2007 for his work on Little Miss Sunshine.

Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches

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