Last week a Writers Guild of America arbitration committee determined that writing credits on Touchstone’s “Armageddon” should list the rare combo of “screenplay by” Jonathan Hensleigh and J.J. Abrams; “adaptation by” Tony Gilroy and Shane Salerno; and “story by” Robert Roy Pool and Hensleigh.
During the arbitration, nine scribes had been vying for credit on the July 1 release.
In addition to Pool, Hensleigh, Gilroy, Salerno and Abrams, the writers involved in the arbitration included Paul Attanasio, Ann Biderman, Scott Rosenberg and Robert Towne.
Originally, it was Hensleigh’s script, based on Pool’s original, that had been greenlighted by Touchstone. Then producer Jerry Bruckheimer hired the succession of scribes for rewrites and polishes.
When Touchstone originally submitted its proposed credits to the WGA, it listed Hensleigh as screenwriter with story by Hensleigh and Pool.
Because Hensleigh also serves as an executive producer on the project, the writers credits automatically were submitted for arbitration. Sources said it was unlikely any of the uncredited scribes would appeal the decision.
The ruling is unique because the WGA awarded the “adaptation by” credit, something to which the guild traditionally has been opposed. However, it is not unprecedented, being used last year for Warner Brother’s “Sphere.”
The Writers Guild’s credit manual states that “because of the strong feeling against a multiplicity of credits, the guild is opposed to the general use of the ‘Adaptation by’ credit. However, the guild recognizes that there are certain unusual cases where credit is due a writer who shapes the direction of screenplay construction.”
It goes on to state that “in those special cases, and only as a result of arbitration,” the “adaptation by” credit may be used.
While Abrams, Hensleigh (“Jumanji”), Gilroy (“The Devil’s Advocate”) and Pool (“Outbreak”) have multiple writing credits under their belts, the arbitration award gives Salerno his first feature credit.
And with less than a month before the film’s release, Disney had to race to alter the credits in print ads, trailers, new posters and other parts of the studio’s marketing campaign. As of Thursday evening the film’s official Web site (www.armageddon.com) had been updated with the new credits, as had a commercial that ran during Friday’s NBA finals broadcast.
(Nick Madigan contributed to this report.)