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10 Directors Who Went from Indie Film to Studio Blockbuster (Part 2)

By Ziyad Saadi | Indiewire March 26, 2014 at 10:51AM

Yesterday we published our first of three lists that take a look at directors with big films coming out this year who've managed to make the difficult leap from independent cinema to studio filmmaking. The second list below features prime examples of this transition, which include some lesser-known filmmakers who are still emerging and some well-known directors that one would never guess started out in the indie film world.
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Robert Rodriguez on the set of "Sin City" with Jessica Alba
Robert Rodriguez on the set of "Sin City" with Jessica Alba

Yesterday we published our first of three lists that take a look at directors with big films coming out this year who've managed to make the difficult leap from independent cinema to studio filmmaking. The second list below features prime examples of this transition, which include some lesser-known filmmakers who are still emerging and some well-known directors that one would never guess started out in the indie film world.

Much like in the first list, ethnic diversity is quite limited and there still remains a complete lack of female directors. Check out the second of three lists below:

Director: Doug Liman
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "Edge of Tomorrow" (Release Date: June 6)
Indie Background: "Swingers"
About The Director: There's no doubt that big-budget studio film "The Hangover" owes some credit to "Swingers," the film that gave Vince Vaughn his breakout role and practically invented the modern-day Vegas buddy comedy. "Swingers" was so low-budget that director Doug Liman was rumored to have filmed the driving sequences without a permit with the intention of claiming his camera was off in case of police intervention. But whatever tactics he employed, it has clearly paid off tremendously, leading Liman to direct A-list celebrities in movies like "The Bourne Identity," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and the upcoming "Edge of Tomorrow," an apocalyptic thriller starring Tom Cruise.

Director: Tim Story
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "Think Like a Man Too" (Release Date: June 20)
Indie Background: "The Firing Squad," "One of Us Tripped"

About the Director: The existence of the sequel "Think Like a Man Too" should be a clear indication of Tim Story's financial viability in the film world. And though his two first indie features "The Firing Squad" and "One of Us Tripped" flew somewhat under the radar, they were enough for the director to find his niche audience in African-American moviegoers that would help make his next film "Barbershop" a commercial success. He's since directed the superhero flick "Fantastic Four," the highest budgeted of all his previous films, but has quickly returned to his roots with "Think Like a Man" and the recently released "Ride Along," which has just announced an upcoming sequel.

Doug Liman: "This is what I've been trying to do my whole career"
Doug Liman in Cannes.

Director: James DeMonaco
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "The Purge 2: Anarchy" (Release Date: June 20)
Indie Background: "Little New York"
About the Director: Writer/director James DeMonaco's sequel to the fear-inducing "The Purge" is another example of a studio betting on a formula that works. And though "The Purge" movies gave DeMonaco his firm place in the studio movie world, it was his debut feature film "Little New York," about three New Yorkers struggling to get ahead, that got his foot in the door. Ethan Hawke, who starred in "Little New York," proved to be commercially viable as well, having worked again alongside DeMonaco on the first "Purge" movie.

Director: Matt Reeves
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (Release Date: July 11)
Indie Background: "Future Shock"
About the Director: Matt Reeves' first turn as director was in "Future Shock," an indie horror film in which he directed one segment of a three-part story. Since then, Reeves has moved up the ranks and taken on sole directing duties, having worked primarily as a television director (on shows like "Felicity" and "Homicide: Life on the Street") before moving on to well-known horror flicks "Cloverfield" and "Let Me In." Now he's bringing the latest addition in the "Planet of the Apes" series and is already attached to direct the next one. 

Directors: Andy and Lana Wachowski
Studio Project Coming Out in 2014: "Jupiter Ascending" (Release Date: July 18)
Indie Background: "Bound"
About the Directors: The Wachowski Siblings are best known for the classic science-fiction "Matrix" trilogy that broke new ground in terms of both storytelling and visual effects. Though the latter two were critically panned, there's no doubt the directing duo knows how to reel in an audience. Coming out later this year, they've got "Jupiter Ascending," a science-fiction adventure film about a woman being hunted down by the Queen of the Universe, which veers quite far from their debut feature "Bound," an independent film starring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon as lesbian lovers trying to steal money from the mafia.

This article is related to: Directors, Independent Cinema, Lists, Robert Rodriguez, James Gunn, Lasse Hallström, Matt Reeves, Doug Liman, The Wachowskis, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski





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