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Chris Weitz

Chris Weitz
Chris Weitz at the The Twilight Saga: New Moon Photocall in Paris, France, on November 10, 2009
Weitz at the New Moon Photocall in ParisFrance, November 10, 2009
Born Christopher John Weitz
(1969-11-30) November 30, 1969
New York City, New York US
Education St Paul's School
Alma mater Trinity College,
Cambridge University
Occupation Film director
Producer
Screenwriter
Author
Years active 1998–present
Known for American Pie
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Notable work About a Boy
Spouse(s) Mercedes Martinez
(2006–present)
Children 1
Parent(s) Susan Kohner
John Weitz
Relatives Paul Weitz (brother)
Lupita Tovar (grandmother)
Paul Kohner (grandfather)

Christopher John "Chris" Weitz (born November 30, 1969) is an American film producer, screenwriter, author, actor, and film director. He is the brother of filmmaker Paul Weitz. He is best known for his work with his brother, Paul Weitz, on the comedy films American Pie and About a Boy, for which the brothers, who co-directed, were nominated for an Oscar.[1] Weitz directed the film adaptation of the novel The Golden Compass and the film adaptation of New Moon from the series of Twilight books.

Contents

  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Early career (1998–2006) 2.1
    • The Golden Compass (2007) 2.2
    • The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) 2.3
    • Other projects 2.4
    • Acting 2.5
    • In development 2.6
  • Author 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Filmography 5
    • Films 5.1
    • Television 5.2
    • Documentaries 5.3
    • As actor 5.4
  • Works and publications 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Weitz was born in New York City, the son of actress Susan Kohner and Berlin-born novelist/menswear designer John Weitz.[2] His brother is filmmaker Paul Weitz. Weitz is the grandson of Czech-born agent and producer Paul Kohner (Billy Wilder, William Wyler, Ingmar Bergman) and actress Lupita Tovar on his maternal side.[3][4] Tovar, who was from Oaxaca, Mexico,[5] starred in Santa, Mexico's first talkie, in 1932, as well as a Mexican version of Drácula.[6] On the paternal side, Weitz' grandparents escaped Nazi Germany, before which his grandfather was a successful textile manufacturer, with the family close intimates of Christopher Isherwood and Marlene Dietrich.[4]

Weitz's father and maternal grandfather were Jewish, and his maternal grandmother was Catholic; he was raised in a nonreligious household.[7][8] He has also described himself as a "lapsed Catholic crypto-Buddhist."[9]

As a young boy, Weitz was a member of the Knickerbocker Greys, a long-standing New York City youth marching corps that has been in existence since 1881.[1]

When he was 14 years old, Weitz went to the boarding school, St Paul's School, in London where his father went.[1] He graduated with a degree in English from Trinity College at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England.[7]

Career

Early career (1998–2006)

Weitz' early career involved many collaborations with his brother.[10][11][12] Some of the work they have done as screenwriters has been both credited and uncredited.[13]

Weitz began his film career as a co-writer on the 1998 animated film Antz. He followed this with work on various sitcoms such as Off Centre and the 1998 revival of Fantasy Island. In 1999, he and Paul directed and produced American Pie, which was written by Adam Herz, and became a major box office success. Weitz returned as executive producer on the film's two theatrical sequels. In 2001 he directed his second film, the Chris Rock comedy Down To Earth.

In 2002, the Weitz brothers co-wrote and co-directed About a Boy, the Hugh Grant film based on the book by Nick Hornby.[14][15] The film was originally set up at New Line Cinema with Robert De Niro producing, and the main character as an American. The brothers felt that it was important that the character is British. Inspiration came from the 1960 film The Apartment. They were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[6]

Weitz has produced a number of films including In Good Company and American Dreamz, both of which were directed by his brother, Paul.

The Golden Compass (2007)

In 2003, Weitz was hired to direct New Line Cinema's adaptation of the first book in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, The Golden Compass, after approaching the studio with an unsolicited 40-page treatment. He was subsequently invited by director Peter Jackson to visit the set of King Kong, in order to gain insight into directing a big-budget film and advice on how to deal with New Line. In 2005, Weitz announced his departure from the film, citing the enormous technical challenges involved, and the fear of being denounced by both the book's fans and detractors;[16] he was subsequently replaced by British director Anand Tucker. Tucker left the project in 2006 over creative differences with New Line, and Weitz returned to the director's chair after receiving a letter from Pullman asking him to reconsider.

During post-production, New Line had Weitz's editor replaced, and the studio made the final cut with severe differences from Weitz's vision, trimming the originally unhappy ending and watering down the religious theme.[17] Weitz declared that

It was a terrible experience because I was able to shoot what I wanted to — and then the cut of the movie was taken away from me and any reference to religion or religious ideas was removed. And the darkness and threat at the end of the story — anything that made it not a happy, popcorn-type movie — was removed. The voice of the key character was redone, all of this against my will. And the fact of the matter is the people that the studio was afraid were going to raise up arms against the movie did it anyway.[18]

The film was released in 2007 and was met with mixed reviews. Its U.S. grosses have been described as disappointing[19] in relation to film's $180 million USD budget, although it was a "stellar performer" outside the U.S. with a "stunning" box office likely to hit $250 million.[20] When questioned about a possible sequel, New Line studio co-head Michael Lynne said that "The jury is still very much out on the movie..."[21] The second and third screenplays have been written, but because of economic recession and protests from religious groups it appears that subsequent production for the series is at a standstill. Its worldwide box office gross stands at $372,234,864.[22]

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

In December 2008, Weitz was announced as the director of the sequel to Twilight, the film adaptation of the novel New Moon by Stephenie Meyer.[23] Weitz said he felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to live up to the expectations of the passionate fan base.[24]

The Twilight Saga: New Moon opened in November 2009, one year after the first movie was released. New Moon set records as the biggest midnight opening in domestic box office history, grossing an estimated $26.3 million in 3,514 theatres, previously held by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The film grossed $72.7 million on its opening day domestically, becoming the biggest single-day opening in domestic history, beating the $67.2 million tally of The Dark Knight.. This opening strongly contributed to another record: the first time that the top ten films at the domestic box office had a combined gross of over $100 million in a single day.[25]

The opening weekend of New Moon was the third-highest opening weekend in US domestic history with $142,839,137, and the sixth-highest worldwide opening weekend with $274.9 million total.[26] With an estimated budget of just under $50 million, New Moon is the least expensive movie to ever open to more than $200 million worldwide. Over Thanksgiving weekend, the film grossed $42.5 million, and including Wednesday and Thursday ticket sales it grossed $66 million. It earned $230.7 million in its first ten days,[25] $38 million more than the previous installment grossed in its entire theatrical run. Internationally, the film grossed roughly $85 million over Thanksgiving weekend, adding up to a total worldwide gross of $473.7 million in ten days. Weitz decided not to continue to direct the next film in the franchise.[27]

Other projects

In June 2011, Summit Entertainment released his film A Better Life, written by Eric Eason about a Hispanic gardener and his son in Los Angeles searching for their stolen truck.[28] This film is unusual among Hollywood productions in that it is set in a Hispanic community and features an almost entirely Hispanic cast.[5][29] Weitz said that working on the film allowed him to explore his Hispanic heritage -- his grandmother is from Mexico -- and learn Spanish.[10] The film was nominated for an Oscar.

In 2012, he worked with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas on a series of four documentary shorts directed by Weitz called Is This Alabama?,[30] about the effects of the state of Alabama's anti-immigration legislation, 2011's Alabama HB 56.[31][32][33] The project was a collaboration between Weitz, Vargas, the Center for American Progress think-tank, America's Voice Education Fund, and Vargas' Define American campaign, with Vargas doing the interviews.[34]

Weitz wrote the screenplay for Disney's 2015 live-action adaptation of Cinderella, which was released in theaters on March 13, 2015. Weitz said he went back to the many different versions of the story (Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, as well as the 1950 animated Disney original) as well as his own vision.[35]

Weitz has been hired to script the first Star Wars stand-alone film, replacing Gary Whitta, titled Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which will be directed by Gareth Edwards.[36][37]

Acting

Weitz has also occasionally worked as an actor, playing the lead role in the 2000 comedy film Chuck & Buck and a bland suburbanite in Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

In development

Weitz has a production company with his brother Paul Weitz and producer Andrew Miano called Depth of Field.

  • A live-action adaptation Michael Moorcock's Elric saga, which Weitz said he enjoyed as a child. Weitz's Depth of Field production company was meant to create the films as a potential trilogy for Universal Pictures. In a May 2007 interview with Empire magazine he announced that he had met with Moorcock, who trusted him with the films, and described his wish for Paul to direct the film.[38]
  • Shield of Straw – producing an English remake of the 2013 Japanese action thriller, Shield of Straw[39][40]
  • Ghost Train – producing a remake of the 2006 Japanese horror film, Soul Reviver[39]
  • Birthright – producing a remake of the 2010 Japanese thriller[39][41]
  • Like Father, Like Son – writing an adaption of a remake of the 2013 Japanese drama for Steven Spielberg[1]

Author

Weitz wrote a young adult novel trilogy series[42] that began with The Young World, in 2014,[43] and The New Order, in 2015. Weitz said that he used the concept of natural intelligence theories called Society of Mind created by Marvin Minsky to create the stories that were loosely autobiographical about growing up in New York City.[44]

Personal life

Weitz is married to Mercedes Martinez, who is Cuban Mexican, and with whom he has one son, Sebastian Weitz.[3] Weitz said he met Martinez at the Burning Man festival.[44]

In 2004, Weitz was a co-investor with Paul Devitt in the Japanese restaurant and club called Tokio on N. Cahuenga in Los Angeles.[45][46]

Filmography

Films

Television

  • 1998–1999: Fantasy Island – co-executive producer, 13 episodes; story, 2 episodes; teleplay, 1 episode
  • 2000–2001: Off Centre – executive producer, 28 episodes; creator, 19 episodes
  • 2004–2006: Cracking Up – executive producer, 9 episodes; consultant, 11 episodes; writer, 1 episode (pilot)
  • 2010: Lone Star – consulting producer, 2 episodes
  • 2014–2015: About a Boy – based on the screenplay by, 27 episodes

Documentaries

  • 2002: Dylan's Run – executive producer
  • 2007: Living with Lew – executive producer
  • 2012: Is This Alabama? – director of four short films
  • 2013: Spark: A Burning Man Story – executive producer

As actor

Works and publications

  • Weitz, Chris. "Lights! Camera! Fiction!" New Statesman. May 8, 2008. ISSN 1364-7431 OCLC 228044383
  • Weitz, Chris. The Young World. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. ISBN 978-0-316-22629-5 OCLC 852031210
  • Weitz, Chris. The New Order. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. ISBN 978-0-316-22630-1 OCLC 895301586

See also

References

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External links

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