Foreign directors taking on Hollywood

Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:24am EST
 
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The trailer for Universal's upcoming movie "Wanted" features many of the hallmarks of a studio summer movie: Quick cuts, effects-heavy action, Angelina Jolie on the hood of a vintage red Viper.

Then the credits flash, and the director is shown to be Timur Bekmambetov, a Russian-language filmmaker who hasn't exactly achieved household-name status with previous efforts like "Night Watch: Nochnoi Dozor."

Bekmambetov is hardly the first overseas director to try to make his mark in the U.S. From Anatole Litvak to Paul Verhoeven to Roland Emmerich, directors have been trickling into Hollywood from non-English-speaking countries for about as long as Hollywood has existed.

But it usually takes the helmers years to get a shot at a big movie. Bekmambetov represents the growing confidence studios have in imported directors, more of whom are entering bigger projects right off the bat and forgoing the training wheels of low-budget studio productions for $50 million-$100 million mountain racers.

"Foreign directors have always been in Hollywood," says Rich Klubeck, a partner at the United Talent Agency. "I think what really changed is that they're now in studio tentpoles."

INTERNATIONAL MANHUNT

The list of directors now making the jump from local fare to U.S. wide releases with surprising speed is wide and varied.

French director Jean-Marc Vallee had barely registered among American moviegoers with foreign-language fare like "C.R.A.Z.Y.," which wasn't even released theatrically in the U.S. But that didn't stop producer Graham King and Martin Scorsese from signing him to direct "The Young Victoria," their high-profile project about period England written by "Gosford Park" scribe Julian Fellowes and starring Emily Blunt.   Continued...

 
<p>Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee poses during a photo session at the 5th Marrakesh International Film Festival in Marrakesh, Morocco, November 13,2005. The list of directors now making the jump from local fare to U.S. wide releases with surprising speed is wide and varied. REUTERS/Andrea Comas</p>