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10 Directors Who Went from Indie Film to Studio Blockbuster (Part 1)

By Ziyad Saadi | Indiewire March 25, 2014 at 12:27PM

With big-budget studio films like "Ride Along" and "Divergent" starting the year off with a bang, one might be surprised to learn that the directors behind these films started out in the independent film world. But aspiring filmmakers striving to become the next Spielberg can take comfort in the fact that this is a much more common trend than one might expect. We've decided to a compile a list of studio films coming out in 2014 with large budgets and larger-than-life movie stars to fulfill their respective filmmakers' dreams -- ones they may not have ever imagined when climbing their way up from their indie film roots.

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "The Other Woman" (Release Date: April 25)
Indie Background: "Unhook the Stars"
About the Director: It's no surprise that Nick Cassavetes' works originated from the independent film world considering he is the son of legendary director John Cassavetes, who practically invented independent cinema. The young Cassavetes followed his father's footsteps by casting revered actress Gena Rowlands, Nick's mother and John's lifelong muse, in his directorial debut "Unhook the Stars." With a few other small-scale films such as "The Notebook" and "My Sister's Keeper" added to his list of credits in the past decade, Nick Cassavetes has officially forgone his indie roots for a more mainstream movie, the light comedy "The Other Woman," which stars Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann as vengeful women out to destroy the man who's been playing them both.

Director: Marc Webb
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (Release Date: May 2)
Indie Background: "(500) Days of Summer"
About the Director: Marc Webb made a huge leap from indie to studio films, with his directorial debut, the charming romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer," being his only non-"Spider Man" film credit to date. But the massive success of the superhero franchise's reboot proved that Columbia Pictures and Marvel Enterprises were wise to trust the indie director who lacked much of a track record. And though "(500) Days of Summer" had virtually nothing in common with "The Amazing Spider-Man" aside from the man yelling 'action!', Webb is widely expected to bring the same box-office magic to the sequel that he managed to bring the first time around.

Jon Favreau

Director: Jon Favreau
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "Chef" (Release Date: May 9)
Indie Background: "Made"
About the Director: Long before he created the action-packed, comically-inclined "Iron Man" franchise (which managed to boost him onto the A-list and revive Robert Downey Jr.'s career), Jon Favreau got his directing start with the 2001 crime comedy "Made," which re-teamed him with his "Swingers" co-star Vince Vaughn. Now Favreau returns with his upcoming comedy "Chef" about a man who tries to rebuild his cooking career and his family after he loses his job. Though the film is technically not backed by a studio, there's little validity in calling it an indie considering Favreau's prominence in the industry and the fact that it re-teams him with his "Iron Man" co-star Robert Downey Jr., along with Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and John Leguizamo -- a feast of A-listers that indie directors rarely get to revel in.

Director: Frank Coraci
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "Blended" (Release Date: May 23)
Indie Background: "Murdered Innocence"
About the Director: The name Frank Coraci might not ring any bells to the average moviegoer, which is quite a surprise considering his extensive collaboration with Adam Sandler. He first directed the famed comedian to his delightful romance with Drew Barrymore in "The Wedding Singer," then following up their teamwork with "The Waterboy" and "Click." But before delving into mainstream comedies, Coraci began his directing career with a little-known thriller called "Murdered Innocence." The film featured no known actors and flew fairly under the radar, while proving Coraci's ability to make darker films as confidently as he does comedy. His experience outside the comedy genre was short-lived, however, with his upcoming film "Blended" promising to feature the same charming chemistry that Sandler and Barrymore exhibited in "The Wedding Singer."

Director: Bryan Singer
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (Release Date: May 23)
Indie Background: "Public Access," "The Usual Suspects"
About the Directors: Before the X-Men franchise propelled him into Hollywood prominence, Bryan Singer had his directorial debut with the adequate (if not totally unremarkable) thriller "Public Access." But it was his sophomore collaboration with Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie on "The Usual Suspects" that proved his artistic brilliance. Singer's knack for thought-provoking thrillers grew stronger with "Apt Pupil" a few years later, fully demonstrating his ability to introduce dark characters in engaging settings that seems entirely fitting for a franchise about mutants in a human society -- and certainly put his filmmaking strength to good box-office use.

This article is related to: Box Office, Independent Cinema, Directors, Upcoming Releases, Lists, List, Darren Aronofsky, Bryan Singer, Divergent

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