James Wan in March 2013.
26 February 1977 |
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
|Occupation||Film director, film producer, screenwriter|
James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is a Malaysian Australian film producer, screenwriter and film director of Malaysian Chinese descent. He is widely known for directing the horror film Saw and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has also directed Dead Silence, Death Sentence, Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2, and The Conjuring. He is currently directing Fast & Furious 7, due for release in 2015.
Before his success in the mainstream film industry, he made his first feature length film, Stygian, with Shannon Young, which won "Best Guerrilla Film" at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) in 2000.
Since creating the franchise, Wan and Leigh Whannell have served as executive producers to the sequels Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, but was not involved with Saw V, Saw VI and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter — Wan had instead moved on to create other film works with partner, Whannel.
The release of Saw 3D, complete with its subtitle, was to signify the completion of the franchise; however, Costas Mandylor, an actor in the seventh instalment, revealed that multiple endings to the film had been shot and the series could continue depending on which was used. The sixth sequel continued the profit margin performance of the original film and earned USD136 million in the global market, based on a production budget of USD20 million, while all films in the series have grossed over USD100 million in the American market. In August, 2012, various online horror publications stated that a source at Lionsgate, the franchise's production company, had revealed intentions for an eighth Saw sequel, but it was at a "tinkering" stage at the time of the disclosure.
In 2007, Wan directed two feature films. The first of which was the horror film Dead Silence, a film that was the result of advice from Wan and Whannell's agent at the time; Whannell has since stated that the film was a negative experience for him:
It all started when James and I returned from the Sundance Film Festival, where we had screened ‘Saw’ to much success. Our ‘representatives’ promptly told us that we should get another deal for a film stitched up before it was released. It was presented as a kind of insurance - if ‘Saw’ was a flop, we had another film to fall back on. Seems logical. There was only one problem - I didn’t have any ideas for a new film. I had barely been able to catch my breath throughout the whole ‘Saw’ experience, let alone dream up another film idea. Instead of telling our representatives that they had to wait until I came up with an idea I really liked though, I locked myself in the bedroom of the crappy apartment we had rented in Hollywood and tried to force an idea out like a particularly stubborn hangover shit. It was creativity at gunpoint. If I could go back in time, I would politely tell everyone to go fuck themselves, but back then....no. I paced and paced and even took up smoking for a while, so stressed out was I.
Dead Silence featured Australian actor Ryan Kwanten (True Blood television series), and is based on the premise of a legend, whereby the ghost of a ventriloquist, Mary Shaw, removes the tongue of any person who screams in its presence. Rather than a gore movie, Wan described the film as "a creepy doll movie. It's in the spirit of those old Twilight Zone episodes or Hammer Horror Films. Very old-school."
Wan's second directorial film of 2007 was Death Sentence, a film adapted from the Brian Garfield novel of the same name that was written as the sequel to Death Wish. The film's protagonist is played by Kevin Bacon and has no connection to the horror genre—instead, Bacon stars as a father who seeks revenge for his murdered son, who is killed by a local gang. Whannell features as a minor character in the film, playing one of the gang members who is eventually killed by Bacon's character. Wan described the film as "a raw and gritty, 70s styled revenge thriller ... It's my arthouse movie with guns."
Having worked on his previous three films continuously, Wan told CraveOnline that he was ready for "a bit of time off just to chill... but at the same time I'm using this opportunity to write again" following the completion of Death Sentence.
Next, Wan directed the horror film Insidious, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the "Midnight Madness" programme and was sold to Sony Pictures Worldwide for a seven-figure sum within four hours of the premiere's conclusion. The film began its American theatrical release in the first weekend of April 2011 and achieved third place at the box office, with an estimated USD13.5 million in ticket sales.
Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey, the film was made independently, as Wan sought complete creative control and also wanted to make a film that was markedly different to the gore that he had become synonymous with due to Saw. Wan stated in an interview, "the fact that Insidious was not being run by a committee really afforded me the luxury to make a film with lots of creepy, bizarre moments that a studio might not 'get.'" Both Wan and Whannel stated that they wanted to use techniques such as restraint and silence to create a horror film, similar to The Sixth Sense, The Others and David Lynch's films.
Following the release of Insidious, Wan revealed in an interview, in regard to his career beyond the film: "I definitely do want to experiment in other genres, or make films in other genres because I love, Leigh and I have, we’re not just horror fans. We’re film fans. I love action films. I want to do action films. I want to do romantic comedies. I love all this stuff. So, if I find the good material, I’ll do it."
The horror film news website Bloody Disgusting confirmed Wan's directorial involvement with a film entitled The Warren Files. The film, later retitled The Conjuring, centred on the real life exploits of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a married couple that investigated paranormal events. The film focused on the couple's most famous case second to the Amityville haunting, in which they investigated a witch's curse on a Rhode Island family farm. In his second collaboration with the pair, Patrick Wilson featured in the film, and he and actress Vera Farmiga played paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, respectively. Filming commenced in North Carolina, United States, in late February 2012, and New Line Cinema, together with Warner Bros. Pictures, had initially slated the film for a release on 25 January 2013. A test screening of the film occurred in October 2012 at the New York Comic Con event, where it screened in the IGN Theater, and the audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive. At that stage, Wan had several more weeks before the film was completed. The film was released in July 2013, and has received acclaim from critics and audiences alike.
Insidious: Chapter 2
After work on The Conjuring was complete, Wan directed a sequel to 2010's Insidious. The film was once again written by Wan's longtime collaborator and close friend, Whannel, and the cast of the original film returned. Filming for the sequel commenced in January 2013, and the film was released on September 13, 2013. The budget for the film had been described as "shoestring" by one media outlet. Oren Peli, the creator of the Paranormal Activity franchise, returned as an executive producer. Film District distributed Insidious: Chapter 2.
Wan stated in an interview following a test screening of The Conjuring:
I think the sequel to ‘Insidious’ is kind of my reaction to Saw, where for my own reason I wasn’t as involved in the sequels, and so I felt with Insidious, I think it would be good to shepherd it and keep it more in track to the version I had when I made the first film so that it doesn’t detour too far. So yeah, I’m kind of working with Leigh [Whannel] on the story and the script.I never set out to make sequels to any of my films I direct,” Wan further explained. "If they happen, that’s great because that means people out there love it and they want more of it, but I always felt with Insidious we created this really interesting world that we can explore more, and so even though we didn’t set out to make a sequel, I felt that there are stories still out there that could be told.
Fast & Furious 7
As of 11 April 2013, Wan entered into negotiations with Universal Pictures to direct the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious action franchise after Justin Lin, who directed the previous four sequels, confirmed that he would not continue as director in January 2013. Wan was an inclusion on a directorial shortlist alongside Jeff Wadlow, Baltasar Kormákur and Harald Zwart. A final confirmation of Wan's directorial role was revealed in an article published on 17 April 2013, while Lin was quoted in an article that was published on 10 April 2013: "It’s time for me to move on to other things and I’m thrilled that Universal and Neal have selected James Wan to lead the franchise into its new chapter.”
It was announced that an adaptation of the graphic novel Nightfall was to be Wan's next film after Death Sentence. The plot involves the events that take place after a criminal is sent to a Texas prison run by vampires. However, as of December 2012, the director's IMDB page does not list the film, nor is the project classified as a film in "pre-production" or a project in the "filming" stage.
In 2009, a Whannel–Wan collaborative project, called "X Ray", was announced and was described as a new "film noir/action project", with producer Robbie Brenner also attached to the project; however, as of December 2012, no further developments were reported.
On 13 November 2012, news emerged of Wan's ongoing negotiations to direct an adaption of the 1980s television series MacGyver. Wan posted on his Twitter account: “People are surprised?? You guys never saw shades of MacG in Jigsaw??", in response to public comments regarding the news. The screenplay is complete and the series creator, Lee Zlotof, is also involved.
|2003||Saw (short film)||Yes||Yes|
|Insidious: Chapter 2||Yes||Yes|
|2015||Fast & Furious 7||Yes|
|Conjuring 2 ||Yes|
Wan has cast certain actors in more than one of his films.
|Judith Anna Roberts||Yes||Yes|
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