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10 Directors Who Went from Indie Film to Studio Blockbuster (Part 3)

By Ziyad Saadi | Indiewire March 27, 2014 at 10:26AM

After our first two lists, we now finish off our series on directors of this year's upcoming big-budget studio films who managed to work their way up from the independent film world. While some of the directors on the list have now become filmmaking icons, having directed some of the biggest movies in history in the last decade alone, some of them will soon get a chance to prove just how well they can handle the big leagues.
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Directors: David Dobkin
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "The Judge" (Release Date: October 10)
Indie Background: "Clay Pigeons"
About the Directors: Best known for his collaboration with Vince Vaughn on "Wedding Crashers" and "Fred Claus," David Dobkin first worked with the comic actor on "Clay Pigeons," in which Vaughn plays a serial killer who confesses his crimes to a young man racked with his own guilt, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Their movies together grew in both budget and laughs, with "Wedding Crashers" becoming a huge commercial success and solidifying Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson's place on the A-list. Now Dobkin returns to studio filmmaking without Vaughn or Wilson and away from the low-brow comedy genre in the upcoming "The Judge" starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, a dramedy that will test his box-office capabilities more than ever before.

Christopher Nolan
Warner Bros. Christopher Nolan on the set of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "Interstellar" (Release Date: November 7)
Indie Background: "Following," "Memento"
About the Director: Nolan's directing career is one of the more enviable ones in Hollywood, achieving a rare brand of commercial and critical success that has yet to falter. It comes as no surprise, then, that his upcoming sci-fi movie "Interstellar" starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway has already generated a ton of interest, especially after the release of its enigmatically thrilling teaser. And though his first two features "Following" and "Memento" were made on modest budgets, Nolan's storytelling ability has never been overshadowed by the big budgets he's been granted during the latter part of his career, which may prove to make "Interstellar" one of his best -- and most successful -- movies yet.

Director: Niki Caro
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "McFarland" (Release Date: November 21)
Indie Background: "Memory & Desire," "Whale Rider"
About the Director: Niki Caro started out with New Zealand-set films "Memory & Desire" and the Oscar-nominated "Whale Rider" before moving her way stateside with "North Country" starring Chalize Theron. One thing that seems to tie all her films together is the empowering of her characters, which makes it seem all the more fitting that Caro has now added to her list of credits the upcoming Disney film "McFarland," an inspiring sports movie starring Kevin Costner as a high school track coach who leads his team through different social issues in the the 1980s in order to ultimately win the championship.

Hobbit, Peter Jackson

Director: Peter Jackson
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" (Release Date: December 17)
Indie Background: "Dead Alive," "Heavenly Creatures"
About the Director: Yes, even Peter Jackson started in independent film before becoming a god among "Lord of the Rings" geeks. One of his first features was the New Zealand film "Heavenly Creatures," which earned him his first Oscar nomination (for Best Original Screenplay) and launched the career of Kate Winslet. He soon rose to prominence, taking on J.R.R. Tolkien's famous fantasy novels and adapting them for the screen in a way that no director has ever pulled off before. In fact, Jackson's experience in big-budgeted studio films such as "Lord of the Rings" and "King Kong" have proved much more artistically impressive than his lower- budgeted work, with "The Lovely Bones" having failed miserably both critically and at the box-office.

Directors: Shawn Levy
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "Night at the Museum 3" (Release Date: December 19)
Indie Background: "Address Unknown," "Just in Time"
About the Directors: Shawn Levy is the man responsible for the "Night at the Museum" series, but he's also known for all kinds of family-friendly fare. Having stuck firmly to his indie roots throughout his career, Levy began with two small family films, "Address Unknown" and "Just in Time," that brought about the very same brand of sentimentality that would appear in his later films as "Big Fat Liar," "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "The Pink Panther." They've all paid off well enough, but it was the undeniable commercial success of the first of the "Night at the Museum" movies that made a trilogy for Levy inevitable, while cementing the likelihood of more blockbusters to come.

This article is related to: Lists, Directors, Independent Cinema, Upcoming Releases, Christopher Nolan, Godzilla, Interstellar, Gareth Edwards







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