2017
Steven Spielberg’s The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara, an adaptation of the 1997 book by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Kertzer, tells the story of a young Jewish boy in Bologna, Italy in 1858.

After having been secretly baptized, he is forcibly taken from his family to be raised as a Christian. His parents’ struggle to free their son becomes a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power and an example of how a single human fate changed the course of history.

Mark Rylance stars as Pope Pius IX. This is his third collaboration with Spielberg – having won the Best Supporting Oscar for Bridge Of Spies (2015) and portrayed the title character in The BFG (2016). The cast is joined by Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

The Bridge Of Spies producing team of Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger serve as producers.

The screenplay is written by Tony Kushner who also penned the scripts for Munich (2005) and Lincoln (2012). He gave a copy of David Kertzer’s book to Steven Spielberg who read it twice and was convinced it would make a great movie.

The Amblin Entertainment production is slated for early 2017 – when Ready Player One will have wrapped – with an intended release in the fourth quarter of 2017, a perfect slot for awards season…

Steven Spielberg has often released double-salvos of films in one year. Now he seems to turn into a kind of “Woody Allen”, bringing out one film per year: Bridge of Spies in 2015, The BFG in 2016, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara in 2017, Ready Player One in 2018, and Indiana Jones 5 in 2019.

Artwork: © Amblin Entertainment

CinemaCon: Frank Marshall Named International Filmmaker of the Decade

2016
Frank Marshall is honored at CinemaCon, the annual exhibition industry convention and trade show in Las Vegas, as “International Filmmaker of the Decade“.

In 1981, Marshall and
Kathleen Kennedy
co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg, producing many successful films such as Gremlins (1984), Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) and the Back to the Future trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990).

As a producer, Marshall has received five Oscar nominations for Best Picture for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Seabiscuit (2003), The Sixth Sense (1999), The Color Purple (1985), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

His feature film directing debut was the thriller Arachnophobia (1990).

After ten years at Amblin, Marshall and Kennedy formed their own production company, the Kennedy/Marshall Company.
Marshall
took over as sole principal, when
Kennedy became president of Lucasfilm in 2012.

He also produced the record-breaking film Jurassic World (2015) and Steven Spielberg’s The BFG (2016).

CinemaCon: Frank Marshall Named International Filmmaker of the Decade

2016

Steven Spielberg’s The BFG is a 3-D fantasy adventure film adapted from Roald Dahl‘s classic children’s book, The BFG. It is co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Walden Media.

Watch the trailer

The screenplay is written by Melissa Mathison who also penned the script for E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Fittingly, the tagline and typography of The BFG’s poster evoke Spielberg’s masterpiece E.T.

This is the final film written by Melissa Mathison before her death in 2015. It is dedicated to her as a tribute. Spielberg about his collaboration with Mathison:

“I don’t miss Melissa yet because I haven’t had the chance to mourn her, because she is still with me. I’m not saying that in a supernatural way, because Melissa is alive in every single frame of The BFG. She has been with me all through this process and she is as tangible as if she were sitting next to me. What I’m not looking forward to is when I finish with The BFG and I have to face the fact that Melissa is no longer with me.”

“Melissa could do something most of us could not. She observed people without judging them. The only other people I can think of who observe with curiosity and without judgment are children. And I think that’s why she understood them and wrote them better than anyone else.”

The BFG is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. In contrast, giants like Bloodbottler and Fleshlumpeater are twice as big and at least twice as scary. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a 10-year-old orphan girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming. Together, they set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

Spielberg had read Roald Dahl’s book to his then-young children. He recalls:

“They loved the privacy and secrecy of his own special giant-speak. And they also loved that this little 8-year-old girl can tell a 26-foot-tall giant what to do.”

The BFG is the first Disney-branded film directed by Spielberg and the first with a female lead since The Color Purple (1985). Spielberg explains why the story appealed to him:

“It’s a story about friendship, it’s a story about loyalty and protecting your friends and it’s a story that shows that even a little girl can help a big giant solve his biggest problems.”

The film stars Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall and Bill Hader.  

The BFG marks Spielberg’s second collaboration with Mark Rylance who won an Academy Award for Bridge of Spies. (2015). Rylance plays the title role via motion-capture – a process of recording movement and mimics of actors that Spielberg previously applied in his film The Adventure of Tintin (2011). 

Spielberg tries to convince Gene Wilder to do a cameo in the film, but Wilder declines. He appeared as the title character of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) which is based on another story written by Roald Dahl. 

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Principal photography takes place between 23 March 2015 to 16 June 2015, with filming locations in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada as well as in Scotland and England

Development for the film project goes back as far as 1991 when producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy set up a deal with Paramount Pictures. Robin Swicord and Nicholas Kazan write a screenplay in 1998 (revised by Gwyn Lurie

in 2001), with Robin Williams in mind for the title role. 

In September 2011, DreamWorks picks up the film rights to the book, with Kennedy and Marshall set to produce, and Melissa Mathison as screenwriter. Originally, John Madden is supposed to direct but in April 2014, Steven Spielberg takes the helm (Madden remains attached as executive producer). After Walden Media agrees to co-finance and co-produce the film, Walt Disney Studios joins The BFG as a co-producer and co-financier.

Regular Spielberg collaborators include: Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski, Editor Michael Kahn, Composer John Williams, Production designer Rick Carter, and Costume designer Joanna Johnston. Visual effects are created by Weta Digital

The BFG is produced by Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer with Kathleen Kennedy, John Madden, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Michael Siegel, Frank Smith and Naia Cucukov serving as executive producers. 

Roald Dahl’s books, which also include “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach” and “Matilda,” are currently available in 58 languages and have sold over 200 million copies worldwide

Originally created as a bedtime story, “The BFG” was Dahl’s own favorite of all his stories and is made into a live action film for the first time, marking Dahl’s 100th birthday.

Spielberg notes: 

“It was very important for us to be loyal to the language, and the great writer Melissa Mathison, who also wrote E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, wrote The BFG.”


Roald Dahl created the fantasy language Gobblefunk, which is spoken by the BFG. Here is a glossary of some of his words:

Cannybully … … … . . Cannibal

Chatbags … … … … . Chatterbox

Chidlers… … … … . . Children

Crickety Crackety … … Sound of cracking bones

Delumptious… … … . Delicious

Despunge … … … … Deplore

Earbursting … … … . . Loud

Figglers … … … … . . Fingers

Frobscottle … … … . . Carbonated soft drink where bubbles float downwards rather than upwards

Frumpkin Fry … … … Pumpkin Pie

Giggler  … … … … . . Little Girls

Glummy  … … … …
. Yummy

Glumptious… … … . .
Scrumptious 

Golden Phizzwizard … . A
wonderful dream

Hippodumplings… … . Hippopotamus

Hipswitch … …
… … Hence/Straightaway

Human Beans … … … Human Beings

Humbug  … … … … . Humble

Humplehammers … … Something that is very big

Jabbeling… … … … . Babbling

Jiggyraffes… … … … Giraffes

Majester … … … … . Majesty

Murderful … … … … Murderous

Phizzwizards … … … . Happy dreams

Rummytot… … … … Nonsense

Rumpledumpus . .
… . . Rumpus

Scrumdiddlyumptious . . Scrumptious

Scuddling … … . .
… . Scurrying

Skumping … … … … Worried

Sloshfunking . .
… … . . Like godforsaken

Snozzcumber … … … A
gruesome vegetable
only found in Giant Country

  

Splitzwiggled  … … … Caught

Swalloped … … … … Swallowed

Swigpill … … … … . . Swill

Swizzfiggling … … … . Deceiving

Telly-telly
Bunkum Box  . Television

Trogglehumper… … . . A horrible nightmare

Whiffling
… … … … . Going off to somewhere

Whizzpopper  … … … Fart

Whopsey… … … …
. Adjective similar to little or trifling


The BFG has its world premiere out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14 prior to its U.S. opening on July 1. E.T. – The Extraterrestrial (1982) also premiered on the Croisette. Just like E.T., Spielberg’s The BFG receives standing ovations.

In his Cannes review, Variety critic Peter Debruge writes: 

“That’s the beauty of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, as brought to life by recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance: You believe. No matter how fantastical the tale (and it gets pretty out-there at points), this splendid Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation makes it possible for audiences of all ages to wrap their heads around one of the unlikeliest friendships in cinema history, resulting in the sort of instant family classic “human beans” once relied upon Disney to deliver.”

Screenshots: © Disney Enterprises, Inc., DreamWorks Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Walden Media

Steven Spielberg returns to Universal Pictures

2015
Newly formed company Amblin Partners co-produces Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One with Warner Bros.

Spielberg returns to Universal Pictures – where his professional career began in 1969. Universal signs a five-year deal to market and distribute films produced by Amblin Partners.

The LA Times reports Amblin Partners has more than $300 million in financing lined up and is expected to produce four to seven films a year.

Amblin Partners – a film, television and digital content creation company – is formed by DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One.

For the first time since the foundation of DreamWorks in 1994, Spielberg decides to invest some of his own money: $50 million.

According to the company’s press releaseAmblin Partners “develops and produces films using the Amblin, DreamWorks
Pictures
and Participant banners and includes Amblin Television, a
longtime leader in quality programming.”

The company will release family friendly movies with the Amblin brand, adult fare under the DreamWorks label and films with a social-justice element under the Participant label.

Upcoming film projects include: Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans, Tate Taylor’s The Girl on the Train, and Lasse Hallström’s A Dog’s
Purpose
.

Steven Spielberg returns to Universal Pictures

2015
Walt Disney Pictures releases first teaser trailer for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming fantasy adventure film The BFG (2016). It’s the first time Spielberg directs a live-action 3D film.

The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers – Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg – unite to bring Dahl’s classic children’s book The BFG to life. The screenplay is written by Melissa Mathison who also penned Spielberg’s E.T. – The Extraterrestrial (1982).

The film tells the imaginative story of a young
girl
and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant
Country. The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big
Friendly Giant
and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country, e.g. Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement).
Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he
is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), a precocious
10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious
giant who has brought her to his cave, but comes to realize that
the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a
giant before, has many questions. Sophie and the BFG soon depart for London to see the Queen
(Penelope Wilton) and warn her of the precarious situation, but
they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall),
that giants do indeed exist. Together, they set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

After his impressive portrayal of Rudolf Abel in Bridge of Spies (2015), Mark Rylance once again plays a major role in a Steven Spielberg film. Principal photography for The BFG begins just three months after Bridge of Spies wraps.

Filming locations are: Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada), Blenheim Palace, Woodstock (Oxfordshire, United Kingdom), Buckingham Palace, Westminster (London, United Kingdom), Skye, Highland (Scotland, United Kingdom).

The film’s score is composed by John Williams. Other regular Spielberg-collaborators are: Director of Photography Janusz Kamiński, Editor Michael Kahn, as well as producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy. The stunning visual effects are created by Weta Digital.

The film is a co-production between Walt Disney Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Walden Media

Release dates

2015
Colin Trevorrow’s
highly imaginative and entertaining Jurassic World, the  fourth installment of the Jurassic Park series, is set twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park (1993). Its story takes place on the same fictional island of Isla Nublar, where a fully functioning dinosaur theme park has operated for ten years until a genetically modified dinosaur, Indominus rex, breaks loose and runs rampant across the island.

The film stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. The supporting cast includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, and Irrfan Khan. Jurassic World is a co-production between Amblin Entertainment and Legendary Pictures, with Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley serving as producers and Steven Spielberg attached as executive producer. For the first time, Kathleen Kennedy is not involved as a producer of a Jurassic Park film, due to her commitment to produce Star Wars – The Force Awakens (2015).

Originally, Universal Pictures intends to begin production on a fourth Jurassic Park film in 2004 for a summer 2005 release, but the film remains in “development hell” for over a decade while the script goes through revisions.Steven Spielberg suggests to writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to explore the idea of a functional dinosaur park. When Colin Trevorrow signs on as director in 2013 (replacing the producer’s original choice Brad Bird who has to drop out due to scheduling conflicts), he follows this idea while writing a whole new draft with Derek Connolly, over a couple of weeks. As their script changes turn out to be more large-scale than expected, Universal executives decide to push the film’s release from June 13, 2014, to an unspecified future date. Delaying the film allows Trevorrow and Connolly more time to work on the script, as Spielberg feels that it needs improvement.

Before his death in 2014, Sir Richard Attenborough is approached about reprising the role of John Hammond; original cast members Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern are also contacted but due to the delays, no actor from the original cast appears in the film – except B. D. Wong (who reprises his role as Dr. Henry Wu from the first Jurassic Park film). Similar to the character of Marcus Brody in the fourth Indiana Jones installment, John Hammond can be seen as a statue in Jurassic World to honor the actor who played the role. Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm can be spotted on the cover of a book that is read on the monorail ride in to the park.

For the male lead role of Owen Grady, a Velociraptor expert and trainer, several actors are considered (including Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill, Josh Brolin, John Krasinski, and Jason Statham) before Chris Pratt ends up chosen for the role. Bryce Dallas Howard steals his show as the film’s brilliant female lead, Claire Dearing, Jurassic World’s operations manager.

Principal photography rolls from April to August 2014, primarily in Louisiana while also using the original Jurassic Park filming locations in Hawaii. Once again the dinosaurs are created through computer-generated imagery by Industrial Light & Magic (with Phil Tippett and Dennis Muren consulting) and life-sized animatronic dinosaurs built by Legacy Effects, a company created by the alumni of Jurassic Park veteran Stan Winston who passed away in 2008.

The film’s impressive production design is created by Ed Verraux who first collaborated with Spielberg as a production illustrator on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The gyrosphere is Spielberg’s idea. According to Colin Trevorrow, Spielberg “wanted to create a way for people to get up close and personal with the animals, to make it a self-driving, free-roaming experience. It loads on a track, but once you’re out there, you actually get to navigate around the valley”.

Colin Trevorrow pitches his idea of having the Mosasaurus feed on a shark to Spielberg who loves the idea but suggests that when the animal grabs the shark the whole bleacher section should submerge underwater using a hydraulic system so that the audience will be able to see the Mosasaurus feeding underwater.

Colin Trevorrow states that the Indominus rex is symbolic of consumer and corporate excess. It is “meant to embody [humanity’s] worst tendencies. We’re surrounded by wonder and yet we want more, and we want it bigger, faster, louder, better. And in the world of the movie, the animal is designed based on a series of corporate focus groups.” Fittingly, the product placement in Jurassic World is Colin Trevorrow’s way to satirize the corporatization of popular entertainment, in a nod to Spielberg’s original film which made fun of the merchandizing business. Jurassic World bustles with references to other films. For instance, the pterodactyls attack on the visitors, filmed from bird’s eye view, is a homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963).

The musical score for Jurassic World is composed by Michael Giacchino, who incorporates themes from John Williams’ previous Jurassic Park scores.

Jurassic World premieres on June 10, 2015, 22 years after the original. The film receives positive reviews, with film critics praising its visuals, action scenes and musical score.

The film is (unfairly) accused by some for the ‘sexist’ portrayal of its female lead, Claire Dearing, who is seen running around in high heels for most of the film. Colin Trevorrow reacts to these criticisms by saying:

‘The real protagonist of the movie is Claire, and we embrace her femininity in the story’s progression. (…) There’s no need for a female character that does things like a male character, that’s not what makes interesting female characters in my view. Bryce and I have talked a lot about these concepts and aspects of her character.’

Paul Bullock (fromdirectorstevenspielberg.tumblr.com) drives the point home in his review of Jurassic World:

“The film (…) sees her as a human being, regardless of her gender. At the start of the film, she’s cold and unfeeling. She views the dinosaurs as assets, the park patrons as walking dollar signs, and her nephews as an inconvenience. Her experiences in the park teach her humility and the real value of life. She ends not as a mother, not defined by her gender, but as a rounded, compassionate human being who understands the need to reach out to other human beings and connect with them. (…) Claire is an amalgam of the three core male characters from Spielberg’s film. She has Grant’s lack of connection, Malcolm’s irresponsibility, and Hammond’s inability to see the bigger picture. All those characters develop, becoming better, or at least different, people, and Claire does the same. Yet, when talking about Grant, Malcolm, or Hammond, we don’t consider them solely through their gender.”

In a record-breaking opening weekend, Jurassic World grosses $500 million worldwide, eventually becoming the highest-grossing film of 2015, with over $1.6 billion in box office revenue.

After the film’s huge success, Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow  develop the story for a trilogy of which Jurassic World is the first part. The first sequel is scheduled for release on June 22, 2018.

2015
ABC’s alien drama The Whispers is canceled after one season. The series is based on the 1951 Ray Bradbury short story Zero Hour from The Illustrated Man. It is produced by Amblin Television, with Steven Spielberg serving as one of the executive producers.

Its main cast includes Lily Rabe, Barry Sloane, Milo Ventimiglia, Kristen Connolly, and Derek Webster. The Whispers is initially described as a race against the clock to defeat an unseen alien enemy out to destroy the world using children. However, ABC pulls back on the alien reveal from the pilot and turns the series into more of a mystery thriller.

The series opens to respectable returns – 1.5 million among adults 18-49 in its Monday at 10 p.m. slot. With three days of delayed viewing, the ranking jumps 53 percent to a 2.3 – becoming the highest-rated three-day gainer among summer debuts on any network since CBSUnder the Dome in 2013.

The show runs into trouble when the stars are brought back for a limited run only, and the show is shifted from Los Angeles, where the pilot was filmed, to take advantage of tax incentives in Vancouver, Canada.

Amblin Television has seen its roster of original tv shows slide of late after CBS canceled Under the Dome (2013-15) and Extant (2014-15), TNT wrapped Falling Skies (2011-15) and Fox trimmed Minority Report (2015-) from 13 to 10 episodes. The fate of TNT’s Public Morals (2015) remains unclear, while The Americans (2013-present) still remains a staple on FX.

Meanwhile, CBS gives a straight-to-series order for the Amblin Television production American Gothic – a one-hour murder mystery revolving around the patriarch of a prominent Boston family – planning a summer 2016 premiere.

2015
The television series Minority Report is conceived as a sequel adaptation to Steven Spielberg’s movie Minority Report (2002).

The series is set in 2065 Washington, D.C. – eleven years after the events of the movie – and follows Dash (Stark Sands), a Precog, who has the ability to predict crimes. After the Precrime Unit was dismantled in 2054, law enforcement is forced to rely on more advanced methods. Dash, his twin brother Arthur (Nick Zano), and their foster sister Agatha (Laura Regan, replacing Samantha Morton from the film version) were part of the original Precrime program that gave them their unique gifts. Dash is using his ability to assist Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) in preventing crimes, at the same time trying to keep his gift from being revealed, as there are forces trying to obtain the Precogs at any cost.

The first TV adaption of a Steven Spielberg-directed movie debuts on Fox in September 2015. The script is written by Max Borenstein. He serves as executive producer alongside Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, and Darryl Frank.

The pilot is watched by 3.1 million viewers, but due to poor reception and mixed reviews, Fox trims the series order from 13 episodes to 10.

2014
Extant, a science fiction TV series created by Mickey Fisher and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, tells the story of astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) who returns home to her family – inexplicably pregnant after 13 months in outer space on a solo mission.

Bypassing the traditional pilot stage, CBS places a 13-episode straight-to-series order, with Amblin Television serving as production company.

The series premiere is watched by more than 11 million viewers. Extant receives generally favorable reviews. Critics praise the unique approach to some familiar stories and the strong performance by Halle Berry.

Nevertheless, in 2015, CBS cancels the show after two seasons (26 episodes).

2013
Under the Dome
– a science-fiction drama tv series, executive-produced by Steven Spielberg – premieres on CBS. Danish director Niels Arden Oplev produces and directs the pilot.

Produced by Amblin Television and DreamWorks Television, the series is based on Stephen King’s novel and centers around the fictional small town of Chester’s Mill where a massive, transparent, seemingly indestructible dome suddenly cuts the residents off from the rest of the world. With no Internet access, no mobile signals and limited radio communication, the people trapped inside must find their own ways to survive with diminishing resources and rising tensions.

The cast includes Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Natalie Martinez, Britt Robertson, Alexander Koch and many others.The pilot episode receives positive reviews, and the initial episodes are generally well received.

Stephen King – who writes the script for the second season’s premiere episode – acknowledges that “the TV version of Under the Dome varies considerably from the book version”, and calls the series “very good”.

The pilot establishes records for the highest rated CBS summer premiere since Big Brother‍ ’​s 2000 season, and the highest drama summer premiere on any network since 1992.The first season receives an average viewership of 11.19 million live viewers, the second season receives an average viewership of 7.17 million live viewers but DVR viewership vastly increases that. For example, the second season finale is watched by 7.52 million live viewers but is watched by 11.27 million DVR viewers.

The series is available for streaming on Amazon Video devices four days after broadcast on CBS. The deal with Amazon helps CBS to mitigate the high production cost of nearly $3 million per episode.

In 2015, CBS cancels the show after three seasons (39 episodes).