|Born||Christopher John Weitz
November 30, 1969
New York City, New York, United States
|Occupation||Film director, producer, and screenwriter|
|Spouse(s)||Mercedes Martinez (2006–present)|
Christopher John "Chris" Weitz (born November 30, 1969) is an American producer, writer, director and actor. He is best known for his work with his brother, Paul Weitz, on the comedy films American Pie and About a Boy, as well as directing the film adaptation of the novel The Golden Compass and the film adaptation of New Moon from the series of Twilight books. His most recent film is the drama A Better Life (2011).
Weitz was born in New York City, New York, the son of actress Susan Kohner and Berlin-born novelist/fashion designer John Weitz (born Hans Werner Weitz). His brother is filmmaker Paul Weitz. He is the grandson of Bohemia-born producer Paul Kohner and Mexican actress Lupita Tovar on his maternal side. His grandmother, Lupita, starred in Santa, Mexico's first talkie, in 1932.
Weitz's father and maternal grandfather were Jewish, and his maternal grandmother was Catholic; he was raised in a "nonreligious" household. He has also described himself as a "lapsed Catholic crypto-Buddhist". Weitz was educated at St Paul's School in London and went on to graduate with an English degree from Trinity College in Cambridge. He is married to Mercedes Martinez, who is Cuban Mexican, and with whom he has one son, Sebastian.
Early career (1998–2006)
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 became a major box office success. Chris 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. The following year the brothers co-wrote and directed About a Boy, which earned them an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. 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; 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. 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.
The film was released in 2007 and was met with mixed reviews. Its U.S. grosses have been described as disappointing 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. 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..." 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.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
On December 13, 2008, he was confirmed as directing the sequel to Twilight, the film adaptation of the novel New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. The Twilight Saga: New Moon opened on November 20, 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. The record was previously held by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which grossed $22.2 million domestically during its midnight premiere. 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.
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. 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, $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.
His current projects include a live-action adaptation Michael Moorcock's Elric saga, which he enjoyed as a child. Weitz's Depth of Field production company will 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. In June 2011 Summit Entertainment released his latest film A Better Life, written by Eric Eason about a Hispanic gardener and his son in Los Angeles searching for their stolen truck. This film is unusual among Hollywood productions in that it is set in a Hispanic community and features an almost entirely Hispanic cast.
In 2012, he worked with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas on a series of four documentary shorts directed by Weitz called Is This Alabama?, about the effects of Alabama's severe immigration legislation.
Weitz wrote the screenplay for Disney's 2015 live-action adaptation of Cinderella, which was released in theaters on March 13, 2015.
- Chris and Paul Weitz
- Chris Weitz
- Acting credits
- 1999: American Pie – Male Voice in Porn Film (uncredited)
- 2000: Chuck & Buck – Charlie "Chuck" Sitter
- 2004: See This Movie – Panel Discussion Moderator
- 2005: Mr. & Mrs. Smith – Martin Coleman
- 2006: Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas – Sheldon Schmeckler (voice only)
- Writer credits
- 1998: Antz
- 1998–1999: Fantasy Island (TV series)
- 2000: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (with Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, and Paul Weitz)
- 2000–2001: Off Centre (TV series)
- 2002: About a Boy (With Peter Hedges, and Paul Weitz)
- 2007: The Golden Compass
- 2015: Cinderella
- 2016: Star Wars: Rogue One
- The most accurate source of Weitz's birth date is the 1969 given in the production notes on the DVD for "Chuck & Buck." A check of the database at ancestry.com will give greater detail.
- Chris Weitz to Direct Two-Part 'Breaking Dawn' Finale?
- Kelley, Tim (October 4, 2002). "John Weitz, 79, Fashion Designer Turned Historian, Dies". New York Times.
- Horn, John (21 June 2011). "Chris Weitz's 'Better Life' shines light on illegal immigrant issues". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
- IMDB.com (2009-02-06). "Chris Weitz - Biography". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
- Notable Biographies (2009-02-06). "Rachel Weisz Biography". Notable Biographies. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
- Devin Gordon (2007-11-27). "A Director Confronts Some Dark Material". Newsweek. Retrieved 2007-11-28.
- Jordan Riefe (2009-11-18). "‘New Moon’s’ Chris Weitz: Grilled". The Wrap. Retrieved 2015-03-08.
- Dean Goodman (2007-12-09). "'Golden Compass' loses its way at U.S. box office". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
- Dave McNary (2008-01-01). "Foreign box office hits record levels". Variety. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
- Peter Sanders (2007-12-19). "New Line and Director Settle 'Rings' Suit, Look to 'Hobbit'". Wall Street Journal.
- IMDB (18 July 2008). "The Golden Compass Sequel axed?".
- "Chris Weitz to helm 'Twilight' Sequel". omg! news on Yahoo! (Yahoo!). 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- Chris Weitz Not Keen on Returning to The Twilight Saga for Breaking Dawn
- Empire: Movie News - Exclusive: Weitz Brothers Making Elric
- Cieply, Michael (2010-06-01). "Another Los Angeles in 'Gardener'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Brookes, Julian (February 24, 2012). "Oscars: How A Better Life's Chris Weitz and Demian Bichir Got Political". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chris Weitz.|
- Chris Weitz at the Internet Movie Database
- His Dark Materials Interview
- Times story on His Dark Materials film 'controversy'