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

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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.

2012
Marvel’s The Avengers
– the most financially successful film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date – tells the story of a superhero team formed by Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., to prevent Thor’s brother Loki from subjugating Earth. The Avengers are: Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor.

Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios, the film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features a handpicked ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, and Samuel L. Jackson. Gwyneth Paltrow and Maximiliano Hernández reprise their roles from previous superhero films. Avengers co-creator Stan Lee has a cameo appearance in a news report, and Harry Dean Stanton cameos as a security guard.

In 2007, Zak Penn, who wrote The Incredible Hulk (2008), is hired to write the screenplay. However, the Writers Guild of America strike and major delays in assembling cast and crew prevent the project from getting off the ground. In 2010, Joss Whedon is close to completing a deal to direct the film and to rework Penn’s script. When Whedon receives Penn’s draft, he tells producer Kevin Feige he feels the studio does not “have anything” and they should “pretend this draft never happened”. Whedon writes a five page treatment of his plan for the film. Marvel quickly signs Whedon to write and direct. Principal photography begins in 2011.

Director of Photography Seamus McGarvey shoots the film with a digital camera, the Arri Alexa, and composes the frame with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio to cope with the varying heights of the main characters. “We had to give them all precedence and width within the frame. Also, Joss [Whedon] knew the final battle sequence was going to be this extravaganza in Manhattan, so the height and vertical scale of the buildings was going to be really important.” The film is later converted to 3D in post-production.

In Post-Production, more than 2,200 visual effects shots are completed by 14 VFX companies including Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Weta Digital, and Digital Domain. ILM is the lead vendor and shares responsibility for creating many of the film’s key effects, including the Helicarrier, the New York cityscape, digital body doubles, Iron Man and the Hulk.

The film’s score is composed by Alan Silvestri. According to director Joss Whedon, “The score is very old-fashioned, which is why [Silvestri] was letter-perfect for this movie because he can give you the heightened emotion, the [Hans Zimmer] school of ‘I’m just feeling a lot right now!’ but he can also be extraordinarily cue and character specific, which I love.”

The Avengers contains many movie references, including Poltergeist (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), and King Kong (1933).On release, The Avengers receives generally positive reviews, with Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter writing, “It’s clamorous, the save-the-world story is one everyone’s seen time and again, and the characters have been around for more than half a century in 500 comic book issues. But Whedon and his cohorts have managed to stir all the personalities and ingredients together so that the resulting dish, however familiar, is irresistibly tasty again.”

The film garners numerous critical awards and nominations, including Academy Award and BAFTA nominations for achievements in visual effects. The film grosses over $1.5 billion worldwide (against a budget of $220 million), and becomes the first Marvel production to generate $1 billion in ticket sales, the highest-grossing comic-book adaptation, the highest grossing superhero film and the highest-grossing film ever released by the Walt Disney Studios.

The Avengers achieves the largest opening-day gross in the US ($62.1 million). When Jurassic World (2015) beats this record ($64.1 million), Marvel Studios posts a congratulation on their Twitter account, congratulating the filmmakers with an illustration that features Chris Pratt‘s character Owen riding a T-Rex looking down upon The Avengers – a call back to an earlier time when filmmakers would publicly congratulate their friends’ box office accomplishments in published one-page advertisements – as did George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron.