Shane Salerno is an American screenwriter and producer. He has written or co-written several successful films including Armageddon and Shaft. He has also served as an uncredited script doctor on Ghost Rider, Alien vs. Predator and Breakdown. According to Box Office Mojo films written, co-written or rewritten by Salerno have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
Shane Salerno was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1972. He attended ten schools in twelve years on both coasts of the United States including the elite St. John's College High School, a military Academy in Washington, D.C. where Salerno 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, Salerno was editor of the school newspaper, played varsity football and was voted "most likely to succeed" by his classmates.
Salerno first made national headlines as a high school senior when he wrote, produced and directed the award winning documentary film Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs. The film had its world premiere on Larry King Live in September 1991. Larry King ended the interview by saying "And Shane Salerno, one has a feeling we are going to be hearing about you. I have this feeling." Sundown won several "best documentary of the year" honors and Salerno was honored in separate ceremonies in both houses of the United States Congress.
At 19, Salerno was invited by Gregory Hoblit, a nine-time Emmy winning producer/director, to apprentice as a writer/director on NYPD Blue. In an interview with Creative Screenwriting, Salerno credited the backstage pass as his film school. At 22, Salerno signed a three year contract with Universal Television to work on various series beginning with New York Undercover. His television scripts led film producers to offer him the opportunity to write feature films. As a result of these offers, Salerno asked Universal to release him from his contract.
Salerno's first feature screenplay was the World War II submarine thriller 'Thunder Below' for Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks Pictures based on the book by Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Eugene B. Fluckey.
In 1997, director Michael Bay recruited a twenty-four year old Salerno to rewrite Jonathan Hensleigh's screenplay Armageddon. In the book Visions of Armageddon, Michael Bay calls Salerno's work "brilliant". The blockbuster film debuted at #1 on July 1, 1998 and was the highest grossing film of 1998, earning more than $550 million worldwide. Following Armageddon Variety selected Salerno as one of the "hottest new creatives on the film scene."
In 1998, director John Singleton asked Salerno to serve as his writing partner on Shaft . The Singleton-Salerno collaboration (aided by Richard Price) was well reviewed by major critics and resulted in Salerno's second #1 film when "Shaft" debuted on June 16, 2000.
Salerno then pushed into more dramatic material with screenplays for Academy Award winning directors Ron Howard (The Bay of Pigs), William Friedkin (Night Train/Sonny Liston Story), Academy Award nominee Michael Mann (The Border) and a post 9/11 spy thriller for Oscar winning producers Michael Douglas and Irwin Winkler.
In 1999, Salerno sold the rights to the bestseller Zodiac to Disney's Touchstone Pictures in a seven figure deal. Despite Salerno delivering a well regarded screenplay, Disney was unwilling to greenlight a violent film about a serial killer. When Disney let the rights lapse, David Fincher directed Zodiac based on the same book for another studio.
On February 23, 2000 acclaimed director Michael Mann announced in Variety that his next film after "Ali" with likely be "a fact-based film about the drug trade in the U.S. and Mexico" written by Salerno.
In 2001-2002, Salerno returned to television by co-creating (with crime novelist Don Winslow) the NBC series UC: Undercover starring Vera Farmiga, Oded Fehr, and Ving Rhames. Salerno served as executive producer, showrunner, head writer, and music supervisor. The series won and was nominated for awards in acting, cinematography and sound.
In October, 2003, Salerno re-teamed with blockbuster director Michael Bay on a television crime series for ABC that Salerno created and Bay was set to direct.
In 2004, Salerno rewrote the screenplay for Alien vs. Predator which debuted #1 at the box office on August 13 and went onto become the most successful film in the history of either franchise. His work led Twentieth Century Fox to hire him to write the sequel Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem which was a worldwide box office hit in 2007 despite negative reviews from some critics and a mixed reception among fans.
On September 12, 2008 the Hollywood Reporter announced that Twentieth Century Fox had pre-emtively purchased Salerno's latest spec script "Doomsday Protocal" in a "seven figure deal."
--Salerno has had no fewer than six films debut #1 at the box office.
--In 2004 Salerno became the youngest "Guest of Honor" speaker in the history of the Los Angeles Screenwriting Expo. He made follow up appearances in 2004 and 2005. When interviewed for Expo 5, Creative Screenwriting Magazine publisher Erik Bauer remarked that "Shane Salerno has been really supportive over the years, and is a great mentor for a number of writers that I know."
--In 2005 Fade In Magazine, selected Salerno as one of the "100 people you need to know in Hollywood".
--Detour Magazine voted him one of "Hollywood's true shapers of pop culture" in their annual "hot thirty under thirty" edition.