Earlier this week, we told you about Xavier Macafee, the New Mexico man who was arrested on suspicion of burglary after allegedly breaking into Bryan Cranston’s car and stealing, among other things, the script to one of Breaking Bad’s final episodes. While we still don’t know if it was a coincidental act or the work of a brilliant BB superfan, this isn’t the first time a swiped script has created havoc in Hollywood. After the jump, we’ve got ten tales of leaked screenplays, and what happened to the films involved.
Much of the folklore around Orson Welles’s directorial debut centers around how the film was blackballed and buried by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate who provided much of the inspiration for main character Charles Foster Kane. Less known is how the film got onto Hearst’s radar early enough for him to crush it: an early leak of the screenplay to Mr. Hearst, by no less than Welles’s collaborator on it, Herman J. Mankiewicz. According to Pauline Kael’s famous essay “Raising Kane,” “Mank” was so proud of his script that he sent a copy of it to his friend Charles Lederer — a fellow screenwriter and great wit, yes, but also nephew of Marion Davies, mistress to Hearst (and herself the loose inspiration for the character of Susan Alexander). Lederer showed it to Davies and Hearst, who passed it to his lawyers, who got into gear. “It was probably as a result of Mankiewicz’s idiotic indiscretion,” Kael writes, “that the various forces were set into motion that resulted in the cancellation of the premiere at the Radio City Music Hall, the commercial failure of Citizen Kane, and the subsequent failure of Orson Welles.”