'It's as clean a shark jump as you could hope for,' screenwriter says

By Oliver Gettell
December 13, 2016 at 04:29 AM EST

Max Landis, the prolific and polarizing screenwriter of such films as Chronicle and American Ultra, has taken to social media to weigh in on a buzzed-about script that features a thinly veiled version of him as its villain.

Penned by Seth Spector, the “untitled Lax Mandis project” gained notice Monday when it landed on this year’s installment of the Black List, Franklin Leonard’s compilation of well-liked unproduced screenplays circulating in Hollywood. The story centers on a frustrated film executive who is forced to work with an entitled young scribe named Lax Mandis.

In a lengthy statement posted to Facebook and Twitter, Landis panned what little he read of the script as poorly written, inaccurate, and unsettling.

“I was only able to get through a couple pages,” he wrote. “Disappointingly bad writing, but such I guess could be expected given the unbelievably lazy and superficial criticism of the industry I was able to glean.”

Noting that he has previously encountered scripts portraying him as hack writer, Landis said the phenomenon is “not real enough to hurt my feelings, but it is weird enough to creep me out.”

The son of director John Landis (Animal House, An American Werewolf in London), Max Landis is known for his tireless output, his dazzling skill as a pitchman, and his feather-ruffling frankness. A recent New York Times profile characterized him as “a Hollywood disrupter with an attitude.”

According to his statement Monday, he was most offended that the Lax Mandis script took a spot on the Black List that could have gone to a more worthy project.

“Make fun of me all you want,” he wrote. “Everyone does, it’s easy, I’m weird and loud and I understand that my success could bother you. That’s not my problem. My problem is that what is essentially a self indulgent, masturbatory 100 something page troll tweet temper tantrum was allowed to take the spot of some other actual script with an actual story someone felt passionate about on The Black List.”

He added, “It’s as clean a shark jump as you could hope for for a tradition that that used to be a wonderful venue for underexposed writers to find recognition.”

Read Landis’ full statement below.

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