2018
Steven Spielberg
’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel Ready Player One is his first foray into the realms of science fiction since War of the Worlds (2005)
and the first Steven Spielberg-directed film project for Warner Bros. since A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).


Set in the year 2044, the dystopian Ready Player One unfolds in a massive multiplayer online role-playing game called The OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), a fake utopia that human beings come to prefer to the harsh reality of their lives. Young Wade Watts (or Parzival as he is known in The OASIS),
is devoted to the game, and manages to unlock the first clue to a
contest that promises the winner control of The OASIS and the massive
fortune of the games’ creator, James Donovan Halliday. Parzival has to compete against an armada of egghunters (”gunters”) who try to find Halliday’s “easter eggs”.

The story is
filled with references to

the 1980s – including films produced or directed by Steven Spielberg. However, Spielberg decides to remove most of those film references from the script:

I love the ‘80s, and I
think one of the reasons I decided to make the movie was that it brought
me back to the 1980s and let me do anything I want – except for my own
movies. I’ve cut most of my movies out of Ernie [Cline]’s book, except
for the Delorean and a couple of other things that I had something to do
with. I’ve cut a lot of my own references out. I was very happy to see
that there was enough without me! The ’80s was a great time to grow up.

Mark Rylance plays
James Donovan Halliday
(for this part, actors such as Gene Wilder and Michael Keaton were originally considered). Incidentally, James Donovan was the name of Tom Hanks’s character in Bridge of Spies (2015) which marked the first collaboration between Rylance and Steven Spielberg.

The cast includes
Olivia Cooke as Samantha Evelyn Cook / Art3mis, Ben Mendelsohn as the villain Nolan Sorrento, and Simon Pegg as Ogden Morrow, co-creator of The OASIS. T.J. Miller plays i-R0k and Win Morisaki portrays one of the top “gunters”, Daito. His pal Shoto is played by Philip Zhao. Another “gunter” called F’Nale Zandor is played by Hannah John-Kamen.
Wade’s mother Loretta is portrayed by Simone Kirby.

Following an open casting call, 19-year-old Tye Sheridan is selected for the lead part Wade Watts. For his debut in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011), Sheridan was chosen from a field of 10,000 boys to play the youngest son
of Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt.

During pre-production, Tye Sheridan tells Variety:

“It’s a new spin on cinema. A good third of the film takes place in a
virtual realm inside a video game. What I love about the film is that it
plays with some metaphorically bigger themes. I think it’s going to be a
milestone for cinema in its advancements and exploration of virtual
reality. I couldn’t be more excited and grateful to be a part of it.”

In a high six-figure upfront deal, the film rights to Ready Player One are purchased by Warner Bros. the same day Ernest Cline finalizes his publishing deal with Random House, one year prior to his debut novel’s publication.

Ernest Cline adapts his own novel into a screenplay, with Eric Eason and Zak Penn sharing screenplay credits. Zak Penn‘s story credits include The Avengers (2012). Eric Eason has written the screenplay for A Better Life (2011).

Adam Stockhausen who worked for Bridge of Spies (2015) returns as Production Designer. Other regular Spielberg-collaborators include Producer Kristie Macosko Krieger, Director of Photography Janusz Kamiński, Editor Michael Kahn, and Composer John Williams.

Principal photography is scheduled to start in London in June 2016.

Avoiding a box office battle with Star Wars: Episode VIII, the release date of Ready Player One is moved from December 2017 to March 30, 2018.
Spielberg’s name above a film’s title usually guarantees mass audience appeal, but after Star Wars: The Force Awakens has earned more than $2 billion and becomes the third highest grossing movie in history – behind only Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009) – Warner Bros.is wise enough to evade direct confrontation with the next Star Wars chapter.

Warner Bros. reacts after Disney shifted Star Wars VIII from May 2017 to Dec. 15. According to Variety, Warner Bros. is not running scared: The new date coincides with Easter, and there are no major competitors scheduled to open in April 2018, giving Ready Player One a comfortable slot.

Cover Art: © 2012 Random House

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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

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

2013
Steven Spielberg
and Jeffrey Katzenberg each donate $10 million to the Academy’s Museum of Motion Pictures. In recognition of their gifts, the two main galleries on the lobby floor of the new museum will be named for both men and their families: The Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Gallery and The Spielberg Family Gallery.

The two galleries will be the only gallery spaces on the lobby level of the museum, slated to open in 2017, and will showcase exhibitions that will explore the past, present and future of moviemaking. Designed by architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali, the 300,000-square-foot Academy Museum will be located next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the old Wilshire May Company building.

“Steven and Jeffrey share a passion for moviemaking and philanthropy,” says Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, who is chairing the museum’s $300 million capital campaign, launched in 2012. “With these incredibly generous gifts, they are combining the two, moving us closer to our goal of building a museum to preserve the history of motion pictures and inspire the next generation of filmmakers.”

“I am so pleased to join with Jeffrey to help build this museum to celebrate, educate, and preserve the arts and sciences of motion pictures,” Spielberg comments. “Having our family name on the lobby floor is a deeply personal way to say how much motion pictures and the Academy have meant to all our lives.”

Katzenberg adds: “Both Steven and I recognize that film’s global impact deserves a museum that reflects its unequaled heritage and serves as a beacon for the future of what we love. Marilyn and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of such a significant project.”

2012
Steven Spielberg steps down as director of
Interstellar (2014) and is replaced by Christopher Nolan.

A
scenario for the story is conceived by film producer Lynda Obst and
theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who first collaborated on Robert
Zemeckis
Contact (1997).

Development for
Interstellar
begins in 2006, when Spielberg and Paramount Pictures
announce plans for a science fiction film based on an eight-page
treatment
written by Obst and Thorne.

One year later, Jonathan Nolan is hired
to write a screenplay for the film.

When
Spielberg moves his production studio DreamWorks from Paramount to Walt
Disney Studios
, a new director must be found for Interstellar.
Jonathan Nolan recommends his brother Christopher Nolan, who joins the project
in 2012.

His film differs
significantly from the script that was originally written by Jonathan
Nolan when collaborating with Spielberg. Script differences are
explained by Peter Sciretta on Slashfilm.com.

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.

2012
George Lucas sells Lucasfilm Ltd. to The Walt Disney Company
– announcing his retirement from producing large scale blockbuster films and instead re-focusing his career on smaller, independently budgeted features

Disney is paying $4.05 billion, approximately half of it in cash and half in stock, for rights to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. 

The deal includes Lucasfilm’s post production businesses, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Skywalker Sound, and a suite of cutting edge entertainment technologies.

Kathleen Kennedy becomes president of Lucasfilm and serves as executive producer on the new Star Wars films, starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Lucas continues as a creative consultant

The deal follows Disney’s acquisitions of Pixar studios for $7.4 billion in 2006 and Marvel comics for $4.2 billion in 2009.

With the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, Lucas is currently Disney’s second largest single shareholder after the estate of Steve Jobs

Lucas announces to give half of his fortune to charity as part of an effort called The Giving Pledge led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to persuade America’s richest individuals to donate their financial wealth to charities.

2008
DreamWorks
on its way back to independence: The studio closes a deal with Indian investment firm Reliance ADA Group to create a stand-alone production company called DreamWorks Studios, ending its ties with Paramount.

One year later, DreamWorks Studios enter into a 30-picture distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

This deal is not going to be renewed, with Steven Spielberg’s The BFG (2016) being the last film to be released by Disney.

2006
Disney buys Pixar for $7.4 billion in an all-stock deal. 

The transaction catapults Steve Jobs, the majority shareholder of Pixar with 50.1%, to Disney’s largest individual shareholder (with 7%) and a new seat on its board of directors

As part of the deal, John Lasseter becomes Chief Creative Officer. Pixar’s co-founder, Edwin Catmull retains his position as President of Pixar, while also becoming President of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

1995
In John Lasseter’s Toy Story
a group of action figures, toy animals etc. led by Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), and Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) pretend to be lifeless whenever humans are present.

It is the first feature-length computer-animated film and the first theatrical film produced by Pixar Animation Studios (co-produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures).

Executive producer (and Pixar’s owner) Steve Jobs keeps the work going with his own personal funding when Disney executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Peter Schneider temporarily shut down production due to creative differences and budget concerns.

Toy Story earns over $361 million worldwide (at an estimated budget of $30 million). It is considered by many critics to be one of the best animated films ever made – praising both the animation’s technical innovation and the screenplay’s wit.

The film receives three Academy Award nominations including Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score (Randy Newman), and Best Original Song for “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, as well as winning a Special Achievement Academy Award.

Toy Story spawns two sequels in 1999 and 2010.