From Script To Screen: These Are The 10 Richest Screenwriters In Hollywood

From Script To Screen: These Are The 10 Richest Screenwriters In Hollywood

January 31, 2023

Have you ever wondered whose genius minds were responsible for screenwriting some of Hollywood’s most spectacular movies? Sure, you may be used to people singing the praises of some of Hollywood’s most talented and successful directors, such as Jurassic Park’s Steven Spielberg, the Avatar film series director James Cameron, Rob Zombie, and Tim Burton. Movie producers also get to steal a lot of the shine as well, and sometimes, such as in the case of Bradley Cooper, they wear the hats of both the producer and the lead actor. But screenwriters are often overlooked, despite the importance of their written work being the very content needed to create the dialogue, characters, and storyline of the script. For all their amazing effort, here are the 10 richest screenwriter in Hollywood, ranked.

10 Chuck Lorre – $600 Million

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It feels good to know tat writers, although they often occupy a behind-the-scenes role and tend to shine a lot more out of the spotlight, can become just as successful as movie stars and directors, even surpassing them in some instances. Such is the case with writer Chuck Lorre, who actually began using his talents to pursue a career as a songwriter and musician. According to Celebrity Net Worth, He also wrote the soundtrack for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television show in 1987 before shifting his focus to writing television scripts.

This led to Lorre creating, writing, and producing his own sitcoms such as Two and A Half Men starring Hollywood actors Ashton Kutcher and playboy Charlie Sheen, as well as The Big Bang Theory, Mike and Molly, and Young Sheldon. His way with words has earned him a remarkable $600 million net worth.


9 Seth Macfarlane – $300 Million

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While more than one Hollywood celebrity carries the name “Seth,” Seth Macfarlane shouldn’t be mistaken for Seth Rogen, the Canadian actor. While Seth Macfarlane also wears the hat of an actor, he is also the brain behind the creation, animation, and screenwriting of some of the most watched television animation sitcoms in history, namely Family Guy and American Dad. When it first aired in 1999, Family Guy had secured over 12 million viewers for that year, although it has been steadily declining in viewers ever since its 2011 viewer rating of 7.3 million.

Macfarlane has also directed and starred in movies such as Ted (2012) and Ted 2 (2015) also starring Mark Wahlberg, as well as A Million Ways to Die In The West, starring himself, Charlie Theron, and Liam Neeson. His writing and acting has earned him a net worth of $300 million.


8 David E. Kelley – $250 Million

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Some successful screenwriters start off with a completely different agenda, such as David E. Kelley, for example, whose profession of choice was law. Born in Waterville, Maine on April 4th, 1956, he attended Princeton University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then went to the Boston University Law School and earned a Juris Doctor. But it was in 1983 that a legal thriller he was writing would be adapted into a screenplay and become the comedy-drama, From The Hip, starring actor Judd Nelson.

He was then hired as a staff writer for L.A. Law under producer Steven Bochco in 1986. And by 1992, he and Bochco co-created David E. Kelley Productions, which produced its first series, Picket Fences. His other projects were Chicago Hope, The Practice, All McBeal, Boston Public, Boston Legal, an Goliath to name a few. His net worth as a writer and producer is $250 million.


7 Joss Whedon – $100 Million

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Generational wealth doesn’t always have to look like a string of profitable business investments that you’ve left behind for your children and grandchildren. Sometimes, generational wealth can be a talent, such as painting, carpentry, pottery sculpting, or, in the case of Joss Whedon, writing. Born Joseph Hill Whedon, he is a third-generation TV writer and the son of Tom Whedon, who was also a screenwriter and producer for sitcoms like The Golden Girls and Alice.

In the early stages of his career, Joss wrote for the Roseanne series, starring actor John Goodman, Roseanna Barr, and Sara Gilbert before his script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie was sold. He then turned the movie into The Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series (1997-2001). His other creations include the series Angel, Western Firefly starring Gina Torres and Nathan Fillion, the Alien Resurrections science fiction film, Serenity, The Office, Dollhouse, and even wrote and directed the superhero film The Avengers! His combined efforts as a screenwriter, producer, and director has earned his a net worth of $100 million.


6 Aaron Sorkin – $90 Million

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Aaron Sorkin is another example of a Hollywood legend who amassed his $90 million fortune from behind the scenes, holding the office of a playwright, screenwriter, and film director. But like most, he stumbled upon his passion for writing while doing odd jobs like bartending, driving a limousine, and house-sitting, the latter of which is where he found an IBM typewriter and fell in love with writing.

According to The Things, the hit drama thriller that put the spotlight on Sorkin was 1992’s A Few Good Men, starring the legendary actor Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and actress Demi Moore. He also wrote the screenplay for Malice (1993) starring Nicole Kidman and Alec Baldwin, as well as The American President (1995), Excess Baggage (1997) starring Alicia Silverstone and the veteran Christopher Walken, Moneyball (2011) starring Brad Pitt, and Steve Jobs (2015), a biopic based on the life of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs. He is also credited with creating his own television series, Sports Night, the political drama The West Wing, and many other popular television series.

RELATED: 9 Top Money-Making Directors In Hollywood

5 Adam McKay – $40 Million

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Undoubtedly, Adam McKay is one of the most talented, prolific, and hilarious screenwriters and comedians in Hollywood. McKay is such a gifted writer that the first job of his career was as the head writer for the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) at only 27 years old.

He gained real recognition in the 2000s after partnering with comedian Will Ferrell to form Gary Sanchez Productions. From their union, they produced a slew of comedy films each starring Will Ferrell, such as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby featuring fellow screenwriter and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, Step Brothers featuring actor/comedian John C. Reilly, and The Other Guys featuring action star Mark Wahlberg.

He has also produced films like Daddy’s Home, The Big Short, Land of The Lost, and many others. According to HollywoodsMagazine, his most recent film, Don’t Look Up, for which McKay wore the hats of director, producer, and screenplay writer, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay in 2022.


4 David Koepp – $35 Million

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David Koepp might not have come from a long line of screenplay writers and directors, but we’ll assume that his father’s billboard advertising company might’ve helped to influence his decision to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in film from UCLA. Despite having a net worth of $35 million, which is a long shot from Chuck Lorre’s massive fortune, he is regarded the ninth most successful screenwriter of all time in terms of the U.S. box office receipts from his movies, which grossed over $2.5 billion.

Some of the most notable films written by Koepp include director Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull starring actor Harrison Ford, the megastar Al Pacino’s Carlito’s Way, Mission Impossible and War of the Worlds starring Tom Cruise, and Premium Rush starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the dynamic actor Michael Shannon to name a few.


3 Terry Rossio – $20 Million

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Terry Rossio may not be as talked about as many of the screenwriters mentioned on this list, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less talented or that his work is aby less successful. Terry was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and immediately went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Communications as California State University, specifically in radio, film, and television. His big break came in 1992 when Rossio and his writing partner, Ted Elliott, wrote the animated comedy Aladdin, which grossed a whopping $504 million worldwide.

His other films include The Puppet Masters (1994) starring Canadian actor Donald Sutherland and Keith David, the Mask of Zorro (1998) starring Antonio Banderas, the Shrek franchise, National Treasure: Book of Secrets starring Nicholas Cage, and the Pirates of The Caribbean film franchise. With a salary of between $750,000 to $3 million per movie, Rossio now has a net worth of $20 million.


2 Shane Black – $16 Million

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By now, it’s clear that most screenwriters also simultaneously fit the roles of film director and movie producer. Shane Black executes all of these functions as well. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in December 1961, Black had been writing comic strips, short stories, and journalism for as long as he could remember. And it was his screenwriting that would get his foot in Hollywood’s door. Twentieth Century Fox solicited his services for rewriting scripts, but it didn’t take long before he gave them an original action film script, which would later become Lethal Weapon starring actor/director Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

Black then landed a role in the science fiction action film, Predator, alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. His next box office hit would be The Last Boy Scout starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, which earned him $1.75 million. He would go on to receive $4 million for writing The Long Kiss Goodnight, starring action Samuel L. Jackson and Geena Davis. To date, Shane Black has a net worth of $16 million.


1 Jane Goldman – $7 Million

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As the only woman on this list of screenwriters, Jane Goldman’s name is worthy to be mentioned, despite the fact that her net worth is the lowest at $7 million. Jane was born to a middle-class family in northern England and at the age of nineteen, became a freelance writer who wrote for magazines and newspapers such as Cosmopolitan, The Times, Evening Standard, Game Zone, and Sega Zone to name a few. She also wrote a series of books as well as her first and only novel, Dreamworld, before making the switch to screenwriting in 2001.

Together with producer and director Matthew Vaughn, she wrote the screenplay for Stardust in 2007, starring Claire Danes and Charlie Cox. Her most impactful projects include Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class starring James McAvoy, the lovely Jennifer Lawrence, and actor Kevin Bacon; Kingsman: The Secret Service starring the British acting sensation Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, and Samuel L. Jackson, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle featuring actresses Julianne Moore and Halle Berry, and Channing Tatum.

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Sources: Celebrity Net Worth, The Things, HollywoodsMagazine


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