Ranking California Among States With The Best Screenwriters

Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

Is it hooray for Hollywood, or give my regards to Broadway?

We took time out from California sports betting coverage to find out which state has produced the most successful screenwriters.

BetCalifornia.com celebrates National Screenwriters Day on Jan. 5 by looking at which states have produced the most top screenwriters in the history of filmmaking. First, we used The-Numbers.com to collect the top 100 grossing screenwriters in worldwide box office that are from the United States. Then we referenced IMDB’s database to find the birthplace of all 100 screenwriters, thereby making up this list of states that have produced the most successful screenwriters.

Here are the results.

Where Top Screenwriters Were Born

Rank State No. of Screenwriters
1 New York 29
2 California 22
3 New Jersey 7
4 Florida 5
5 Illinois 4
T6 Massachusetts 3
T6 Pennsylvania 3
T6 Maryland 3
T6 Michigan 3

California Second Among Screenwriting States

There is no surprise in the fact that New York and California are the top two states in producing screenwriters who create some of our best-loved films. In fact, the coastal giants dominate the list, with 51 of the top 100 movie wordsmiths hailing from those two states.

What might surprise some – much like bettors would have been stunned by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ loss in the National League playoffs if California sportsbook apps were legal – is that California isn’t first. Whether it’s a strong literary tradition or just the sheer number of films set in the Big Apple, New York is the top state on our list of top grossing screenwriters.

New York had 29 of the top 1200, whereas California had 22. Those two states are way ahead of third-place New Jersey, which has produced seven of the top 100.

Top California Screenwriters

Coming in second on the list of most successful screenwriters, as provided by The-Numbers.com, is Stephen McFeely. He has written for the Avengers, Captain America and Chronicles of Narnia franchises. McFeely, 53, was born in Walnut Creek, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the top American on the list from The-Numbers because the screenwriter at the top, James Cameron, is Canadian. McFeely’s writing partner for many of those projects, Christopher Markus, is third on the worldwide list and second on the U.S. list, but the native of Buffalo, N.Y., balances things out and helps the Empire State hit the top.

McFeely and Markus are responsible for films that have grossed more than $9.358 billion in worldwide box office, according to figures available at the end of 2023.

Los Angeles native Chris Morgan, the writer and producer of several entries in the Fast and Furious franchise, is fifth on the top 100 list. Morgan also wrote “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and “47 Ronin” among others.

One interesting entry among the top 100 grossing screenwriters is Colin Trevorrow, a San Francisco native. The Numbers website lists him as having three screenwriting credits but they’re quite famous – perhaps you have heard of the Jurassic Park film series? Though he is well down the list at No. 31, he has the highest average gross at $1.327 billion worldwide for the three films for which he’s credited as screenwriter.

Stay with BetCalifornia.com for more pop culture stories, plus coverage of the efforts to bring in major sportsbook operators that should offer California sports betting promos to new customers.


Jim Tomlin

Jim Tomlin has 30-plus years of experience writing and editing stories about sports, gambling and the intersection of those two industries. He has worked at the Tampa Bay Times, FanRag, Saturday Down South and Saturday Tradition and now lends his expertise to BetCalifornia.com, among other sites.

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