Shane Salerno

Shane Salerno (born November 27, 1972) is an American screenwriter, producer, and director. His writing credits include the movies Armageddon, Savages, Shaft, and the TV series Hawaii Five-0. He was chosen by director James Cameron to work on the four sequels to Avatar, set to release in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.[1][2] He spent ten years writing, producing, financing, and directing the documentary Salinger, and co-writing with David Shields the companion book which became a New York Times bestseller.[3] Salerno is also the founder and president of The Story Factory, which produces film and TV series based on literary properties.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Shane Salerno
Shane Salerno.jpg
Born (1972-11-27) November 27, 1972 (age 47)
EducationSt. John's College High School, San Dieguito High School
OccupationScreenwriter, producer, director
Years active1991–present

As a writer, Salerno has collaborated with James Cameron,[10] Steven Spielberg,[11] Michael Mann,[12] Ridley Scott,[8] William Friedkin,[11] Oliver Stone,[13] and Ron Howard.[12] He has sold pitches, spec screenplays, fiction and non-fiction books, feature film documentaries, television pilots, television documentaries, and foreign book deals of between $2 and $6 million.[7][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

Early life and educationEdit

Shane Salerno was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1972. He attended 10 schools in 12 years, including St. John's College High School, a military academy in Washington, D.C. where he was co-captain of the football team and the only write-in class president since the school was founded in 1851. At San Dieguito High School in Encinitas, California, he was editor of the school newspaper, played varsity football, and was voted most likely to succeed.[12][21]

Salerno cited the influence of filmmaker Michael Mann and the TV show Miami Vice, which Mann created and produced. His first formative cinematic memory from childhood was watching Mann's movie Thief when he was eight years old. He wrote two films for Mann in 2000 and 2012 and dedicated his documentary film Salinger to him in 2013. He also said The Empire Strikes Back had a significant impact on him as a child.[22] He compared his time on NYPD Blue to film school, having apprenticed with producer and director Gregory Hoblit. His time with Steven Spielberg he called his writing school.[11][23]

TV and filmEdit

While Salerno was a high school senior, he wrote, produced, and directed the documentary Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs. The documentary premiered on Larry King Live. For his documentary, he was honored in ceremonies in both houses of the United States Congress.[24][25]

With crime novelist Don Winslow, he created the TV series UC: Undercover, for which he was executive producer, head writer, and music supervisor.[26] From 2010-2011 he wrote three episodes of Hawaii Five-0.[27]

When he was 23, he worked with director Steven Spielberg to adapt the World War II submarine thriller Thunder Below, based on the book by Eugene B. Fluckey. In 1997, director Michael Bay asked him to rewrite the screenplay for Armageddon.[12] The movie became the highest-grossing film of 1998, earning more than half a billion dollars worldwide. With director John Singleton and writer Richard Price he wrote the screenplay for the 2000 movie Shaft. With director Paul W. S. Anderson he adapted the screenplay for Alien vs. Predator. Salerno wrote the screenplay for the sequel Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.

Salerno co-wrote and produced Oliver Stone's movie Savages, based on the novel by Don Winslow.[28] He also wrote screenplays for Ron Howard (The Bay of Pigs), William Friedkin (Night Train/Sonny Liston Story), Michael Mann (The Border), and for producers Michael Douglas and Irwin Winkler.[29] Director James Cameron chose Salerno to work on the four sequels to Avatar, one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.[10]

Salerno spent ten years on his documentary Salinger, a project that he researched, wrote, produced, directed, and financed. The film examined the life of author J. D. Salinger, a writer noted for protecting his privacy. The movie includes interviews with Joyce Maynard, Edward Norton, and Tom Wolfe. A director's cut appeared on the PBS series American Masters in January 2014. With author David Shields, Salerno wrote the book Salinger to accompany the film. It reached number six on The New York Times bestseller list and number one on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list.[30]

The Story FactoryEdit

Shane Salerno is the founder of The Story Factory, an entertainment company that currently represents authors Don Winslow, Steve Hamilton, Lou Berney, Meg Gardiner, Michael Lombardi, Marcus Sakey, John Katzenbach, Adrian McKinty, Reed Farrel Coleman, Bill Beverly, and Blake Bailey, as well as four-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Michael Mann. The Story Factory has produced five consecutive New York Times bestsellers,[31][32][3][33][34] and its authors have either won or been nominated for every major writing award in the world, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Books Critics Circle Award, the Edgar Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New York Times Notable Books of the Year.

The Story Factory has also negotiated a number of seven-figure book-to-film sales, including Don Winslow’s Savages (to Universal, with Oliver Stone directing),[28] Shane Salerno’s Salinger (to PBS for the 200th episode of American Masters, as well as to The Weinstein Company for theatrical release),[30][14] Steve Hamilton’s The Second Life of Nick Mason (to Lionsgate, with Nina Jacobson and Shane Salerno producing[35]), Winslow’s The Cartel (to Twentieth Century Fox, with Ridley Scott directing and producing),[7] Winslow’s The Force (again to Fox, with James Mangold directing),[36] and Marcus Sakey’s Afterlife (to Brian Grazer and Ron Howard at Imagine Entertainment).[5]

Film and television creditsEdit

Year Title Role
1991 Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs Writer, producer, director, narrator, music supervisor
1993–1994 NYPD Blue Writer, director apprentice
1995–1996 New York Undercover Writer
1997 Breakdown Production rewrite
1998 Armageddon Adaptation (with Tony Gilroy)
2000 Shaft Screenwriter
2001–2002 UC: Undercover Executive producer, writer, show runner, music supervisor
2004 Alien vs. Predator Production rewrite
2007 Ghost Rider Contributing writer
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem Writer
2010–present Hawaii Five-0 Writer, consulting producer
2012 Savages Screenwriter, executive producer
2013 Salinger Writer, producer, director
2014 Salinger (Director's Cut) (American Masters) Writer, producer, director
2020 The Comey Rule Executive producer
2023 Avatar 3[10] Screenwriter
TBA The Cartel[7] Screenwriter, producer
Untitled Shane Salerno/Kurtzman-Orci Project[17] Writer, executive producer
Fantastic Voyage Screenwriter
Frankie Machine[37] Screenwriter, producer
Untitled Chuck Hogan/Don Winslow Crime Drama[38] Producer
Satori[39] Screenwriter, executive producer
The Power of the Dog[40] Screenwriter, producer
Afterlife[5] Producer
UNSUB TV series[4] Producer


  1. ^ Stefansky, Emma (23 April 2017). "At Long Last, Those Four Avatar Sequels Have Release Dates - VANITY FAIR". Vanity Fair.
  2. ^ Toro, Gabe (18 June 2014). "Avatar 2, 3, And 4 Finally Reveal Their Writers - CINEMABLEND". Cinema Blend.
  3. ^ a b Fleming Jr., Mike (13 September 2013). "'Salinger' Hits Bestseller List And 'Catcher In The Rye' Gets Second Wind". Deadline.
  4. ^ a b Fleming Jr., Mike (11 April 2017). "CBS TV Studios, Timberman-Beverly To Adapt Meg Gardiner Novel 'UNSUB' About Chase of Zodiac Killer As TV Series". Deadline Hollywood. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ a b c Fleming Jr., Mike (16 March 2017). "Imagine Lands Marcus Sakey Novel 'Afterlife'". Deadline Hollywood.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (19 September 2016). "Fox, Ridley Scott Developing Don Winslow's NYPD Crime Thriller". Variety.
  7. ^ a b c d Fleming Jr., Mike (23 July 2015). "Leonardo DiCaprio Courted For Don Winslow's 'The Cartel' After Fox Blows Competition Out Of Water With $6M Commitment". Deadline. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  8. ^ a b Kit, Borys; Lewis, Andy (23 July 2015). "Ridley Scott to Tackle Don Winslow's El Chapo Novel for Fox (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter.
  9. ^ Schou, Nick (12 July 2012). "The King of Cool, Don Winslow". OC Weekly.
  10. ^ a b c Fleming Jr., Mike (1 August 2013). "Avatar Sequels Upped To Three; Fox, James Cameron Set Trio Of Writers To Spearhead". Deadline. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Fleming, Michael (29 April 1999). "Snipes in talks with HBO; scripter Salerno hot". Variety. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d Brass, Kevin (7 April 2002). "Up Against His Own Deadline". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  13. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (6 June 2011). "Don Winslow To Write Prequel To 'Savages' As Oliver Stone Ramps Up Production". Deadline. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  14. ^ a b Fleming Jr., Mike (27 February 2013). "J.D. Salinger Documentary Acquired By Harvey Weinstein". Deadline. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  15. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (11 December 2013). "Skydance Productions Acquires Shane Salerno Sci-Fi Project In Big Year-End Deal". Deadline. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  16. ^ Schneider, Michael (9 September 2004). "NBC pays for 'Criminal' pilot". Variety. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  17. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (28 June 2009). "Paramount nabs 'Steal'". Variety. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  18. ^ Kit, Borys; Associated Press (9 November 2008). "Fox picks up 'Doomsday Protocol'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  19. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (16 March 2016). "Michael Mann Launches Book Imprint; 'Heat' Prequel Novel A Priority". Deadline. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  20. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (9 June 2014). "Don Winslow's First Book For Knopf's Sonny Mehta Is Power Of The Dog' Sequel". Deadline. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  21. ^ Creative Screenwriting, Volume 11, Number 4, Page 32-33, David Konow, July/August, 2004.
  22. ^ Ottone, Robert (20 January 2014). "Interview: Writer/Director Shane Salerno (Salinger)". Chud.
  23. ^ "Shane Salerno and UC: Undercover", Den Shewman, Creative Screenwriting, September/October 2001
  24. ^ 102d Congress, First Session and April 19, 1991 Congressional Record, No. 57
  25. ^ Congressional Record, Thursday, April 18th, 1991, Volume 137, Number 57, Author: Congressman Bill Lowery
  26. ^ Reel West, October/November, 2001, pages 18, 19 and 37.
  27. ^ "Shane Salerno". Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  28. ^ a b Fleming Jr., Mike (4 March 2010). "Oliver Stone Plots Drug Cartel Drama". Deadline.
  29. ^ Fleming, Michael (10 October 2000). "Salerno tries on Jersey deal". Variety.
  30. ^ a b "JD Salinger | Salinger | American Masters | PBS". 3 September 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  31. ^ "Hardcover Fiction Books - Best Sellers - July 8, 2012 - The New York Times" – via
  32. ^ "Paperback Trade Fiction Books - Best Sellers - July 8, 2012 - The New York Times" – via
  33. ^ "Hardcover Fiction Books - Best Sellers - August 9, 2015 - The New York Times" – via
  34. ^ "Hardcover Fiction Books - Best Sellers - June 5, 2016 - The New York Times" – via
  35. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (25 August 2015). "Lionsgate Makes Preemptive Deal For Steve Hamilton Novel 'The Second Life Of Nick Mason'". Deadline.
  36. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (16 March 2017). "'Logan' Helmer James Mangold To Direct Fox Adaptation Of Don Winslow Novel 'The Force'". Deadline.
  37. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (2 April 2012). "Author Don Winslow Says 'Frankie Machine' Film Still Moving Forward". IndieWire.
  38. ^ Wright, Benjamin (8 May 2012). "'Savages' & 'The Town' Writers Don Winslow & Chuck Hogan Team Up For Crime Script". IndieWire.
  39. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (3 October 2011). "Warner Bros Acquires Post-WWII Don Winslow Novel 'Satori' For Leonardo DiCaprio". Deadline.
  40. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (1 February 2013). "Oscar-Nommed 'A Royal Affair' Team Boards Epic Don Winslow Novel 'Power Of The Dog'". Deadline.

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