Success? That's not expendable

Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt's tale about becoming Hollywood screenwriters could be a feature-length script.

He worked as vice president of a financial services firm in suburban Philadelphia, locating missing heirs and lost shareholders for Fortune 500 companies.

She was born in Iceland, moved to the states and worked in international benefits.

Feeling passionless in their work routine and wanting to delve into movie-writing, Rothenberger and Benedikt crossed paths at an eight-week screenwriting class in 2000 in Philadelphia.

The two discovered they shared a mutual interest in writing and music. They married in 2006.

The couple embarked on taking steps toward becoming professional screenwriters, the first being a move to Los Angeles in 2007. It wouldn't be an easy ride.

But the ambitious pair has significant cause to celebrate today.

Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Jason Statham, among a long list of stars, are reciting lines Rothenberger and Creighton co-wrote with Stallone in the action-packed movie "The Expendables 3."

"It's crazy and amazing," Rothenberger, a Newport Beach resident, said of the couple's successful screenplay. "It took a collaborative effort, and it's gratifying."

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'Olympus' rises

There's no rhyme or reason how writers make their way to the big screen. Many Hollywood screenwriters attend film school, but many others do not.

Nancy Meyers started a cheesecake business that allowed her to spend her time outside of the kitchen writing movies.

James Cameron worked as a truck driver to support his screenwriter ambition.

Quentin Tarantino worked at a video rental store, where he wrote the screenplays for "True Romance" and "Natural Born Killers."

Rothenberger and Benedikt, who quit their corporate jobs to write thrillers, remained undaunted when entering the industry's risky business.

Though the duo was down to their last $10,000, they made promises to each other.

They wouldn't go without health insurance.

They wouldn't touch retirement.

They wouldn't accumulate credit-card debt.