When it comes to picking the right director for the seaon's biggest blockbusters, it appears the studios are more open to taking a chance on those who are less well-known than hiring some of the bigger names in the biz. We have seen this trend continue to rise as of late with Colin Trevorrow being chosen to direct Universal Pictures' Jurassic World, and again with Jon Watts recently being chosen to direct Sony Pictures and Marvel Studio's untitled Spider-Man reboot.
How is it possible that these directors—who sometimes get noticed after being praised for their work on an indie film—go from essentially being widely unknown to landing their dream job directing a big-budget film that boosts their career to the next level?
Studios are willing take a gamble on these unknown directors when they seem to be the right people for the job. It's cheaper to hire these lesser-known names then the top guys—not to mention they may be more open to taking suggestions from studio executives. In some cases their work speaks for itself as far as their talents go, showcasing what they're capable of.
What both Trevorrow and Watts have in common is that they both got a lot of buzz for films that screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Safety Not Guaranteed and Cop Car, respectively.
Steven Spielberg said he was sold on Trevorrow by the end of his indie film to have him on board for Jurassic World, whereas Watts revealed that Marvel execs saw Cop Car at Sundance, which eventually lead to a series of meetings that ultimately ended with him landing the job.
But Trevorrow and Watts aren't the only ones who made the leap from low-budget indie films to studio blockbusters. Here's a look at how they landed big roles, along with other directors who also started small and worked themselves up to being some of the most respected directors in the business.
As mentioned above, Trevorrow was unknown by most before Jurassic World. However, Hollywood definitely took notice after his first feature film, Safety Not Guaranteed, premiered in 2012, a film which earned this up-and-coming director a Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. He would then go on to meet Spielberg, directing the latest sequel to his famous movie franchise. Jurassic World crushed the box office, becoming the third movie this year to gross more than $1 billion dollars worldwide, and beating Marvel's Avengers to be the third highest-grossing movie ever.
Trevorrow won't be returning to the director's chair for the Jurassic World sequel, but he will be co-writing it alongside Derek Connolly. That may be because he is about to direct an even bigger movie—Star Wars.
It was announced at Disney's D23 Expo that Trevorrow is set to direct Disney Studio's Star Wars: Episode IX, which will hit theaters in 2019.
"Colin is someone I've been interested in working with ever since I saw Safety Not Guaranteed," said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. "The power of that film paired with the enormous success of Jurassic World speaks volumes about his abilities both as a storyteller and skilled filmmaker. We are thrilled to have such an incredible talent as Colin join our family and step into the Star Wars universe."
It seems like his career has officially kicked off.
When Marvel and Sony announced Watts would direct the latest Spider-Man film, you probably were wondering who this director is. When the news broke, Cop Car had not yet been released, so he only had one film under his belt. Watts made his directorial debut with the 2014 film Clown, which started as a fake movie trailer that was uploaded on YouTube. The video was seen by director Eli Roth, who reached out to asked Watts to make the film. Although the film wasn't released here, it went on to be the No. 2 movie in Italty, Watts told the L.A. Times.
So with only two low-budget features on his resume (Cop Car costing only $800,000 to make), Watts' landed his first major blockbuster, entering a franchise whose films have earned approximately $4 billion worldwide.
"Nobody has made a giant movie until they've made a giant movie," Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said. "What we want from our directors is not necessarily leadership that can command an army. We want vision that can tell a story and can direct that army into unique places in unique ways."
After the buzz surrounding Cop Car and Spider-Man, we are sure there will plenty more from Watts.
"I'm excited. It's such a great team over at Marvel and Sony, and there's just so much potential. If anything, it opens up more possibilities," Watts previously told Tech Times.
This British screenwriter, visual effects artist and director is now known for directing the Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures Godzilla reboot in 2014. However, he was first recognized in the film community for his work as writer and director for the indie film Monsters.
Edwards' first feature film cost him only $1 million to make, but got him noticed for what he could do on a limited budget. Godzilla went on to earn $535 million globally, with $93 million made in just the opening weekend. Thanks to the success of the film, Edwards was signed on again for its sequel, but not before directing another big blockbuster before that.
Edwards is directing the first stand-alone film in the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Lucasfilm announced its full cast for the film, which takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, and members include: Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, and NBC's Hannibal, Mads Mikkelsen. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is slated for Dec. 16, 2016.
Marvel chose Peyton Reed to take the director's chair for the superhero film Ant-Man released this summer. Ant-Man had a $130 million budget, and would go on to make over $159 million domestically and $348 million worldwide.
Reed actually got his start by directing the 2000 cult classic cheerleader rom-com, Bring It On. In comparison, the film starring Kirsten Dunst had a production budget of $10 million, earning over $90 million worldwide.
He then directed more rom-coms, Down with Love and The Break-Up, as well as Yes Man starring Jim Carrey, before joining on to direct a biopic about Brian Epstein called The Fifth Beatle. However, he had to step away after he was tapped to replace Edgar Wright as director of Ant-Man.
Ask any frequent moviegoer and of course they know who Christopher Nolan is. With seven Oscars and 26 nominations for his work, Nolan is responsible for directing some of the most successful films in the past few years, including Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy.
But the famous director had to start somewhere. Nolan made his directiorial debut with the 1998 film Following, a film that was created on a tight budget of $6,000. He even had the actors rehearse for six months to avoid multiple takes.
From there, he would go on to to direct Memento and Insomnia, movies that got the attention of critics and moviegoers alike, and his career has continued to climb ever since. Interstellar had a $165 million budget, grossing more than $188 million domestically.
A classmate of director Michael Bay at the Art Center College of Design in California, Zack Snyder got his start by making car commercials for companies like Audi and BMW. He would make his feature film debut with the 2004 remake of the zombie flick Dawn of the Dead, which grossed $59 million domestically and $102 worldwide.
Snyder then went on to direct some of the biggest movies based on comics such as 300, Watchmen and Man of Steel, which had a huge $225 million budget and made over $668 million worldwide. He continues to direct these huge superhero films, including Batman v Superman, which hits theaters March 25, 2016, as well as Justice League Part One and Two, slated for 2017 and 2019.
Fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy of course know that Peter Jackson is the director and producer responsible for bringing the books to life on the big screen. While The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy have boosted Jackson's career, he actually has quite a few movies under his belt.
He made his directorial debut in 1987 with the horror comedy film Bad Taste. He went on to make two more films before being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, which had a $5 million budget, but only made $3 million domestically. However, that film got him noticed in the industry (as well as actress Kate Winslet). Jackson went on to win an Oscar for Best Director in 2003 for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and also directed films like King Kong, District 9 and The Lovely Bones. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King had a $94 million budget, grossing more than $1 billion worldwide.