Chris Weitz

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Chris Weitz
Chris Weitz at the The Twilight Saga: New Moon photocall in Paris, France, on November 10, 2009
Weitz in November 2009
Born Christopher John Weitz
(1969-11-30) November 30, 1969 (age 48)
New York City, New York U.S.
Education St Paul's School
Alma mater Trinity College,
Cambridge University
Occupation Film director
Screenwriter
Film producer
Years active 1998–present
Known for American Pie
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Notable work About a Boy
Spouse(s)
Mercedes Martinez (m. 2006)
Children 2
Parent(s) Susan Kohner
John Weitz
Relatives Paul Weitz (brother)
Lupita Tovar (grandmother)
Paul Kohner (grandfather)

Christopher John Weitz (born November 30, 1969) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is best known for his work with his brother Paul Weitz on the comedy films American Pie and About a Boy; the latter earned the brothers a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[1] Among his other main works, Weitz directed the film adaptation of the novel The Golden Compass and the film adaptation of New Moon from the series of Twilight books, as well wrote the screenplay for Disney's 2015 live-action adaptation of Cinderella and co-wrote Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with Tony Gilroy.

Early life[edit]

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 (who represented Billy Wilder, William Wyler, Ingmar Bergman among others) 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] Weitz' paternal grandparents escaped Nazi Germany, before which his grandfather was a successful textile manufacturer, with the family being intimates of writer Christopher Isherwood and actress Marlene Dietrich.[4]

Weitz's father and maternal grandfather were Jewish,[7][8][9][10][11] and his maternal grandmother was Catholic; he was raised in a nonreligious household.[12][13] He has also described himself as a "lapsed Catholic crypto-Buddhist."[14]

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, which his father had attended.[1] He graduated with a degree in English from Trinity College, Cambridge.[12]

Career[edit]

Early career (1998–2006)[edit]

Weitz' early career involved many collaborations with his brother.[15][16][17] Some of the work they have done as screenwriters has been both credited and uncredited.[18]

Weitz began his film career as a co-writer on the animated film Antz (1998). He followed this with work on various sitcoms such as Off Centre and the 1998 revival of the 1977 TV series 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, along with his brother, he co-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.[19][20] 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)[edit]

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;[21] 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.[22] 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.[23]

The film was released in 2007 and was met with mixed reviews. Its U.S. grosses have been described as disappointing[24] 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.[25] 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..."[26] The second and third screenplays have been written but because of the economic recession and the protest by the Catholic Church, the two sequels never got made. Its worldwide box office gross stands at $372,234,864.[27]

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)[edit]

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.[28] Weitz said he felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to live up to the expectations of the passionate fan base.[29]

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.[30]

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.[31] 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,[30] $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.[32]

Other projects[edit]

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.[33] This film is unusual among Hollywood productions in that it is set in a Hispanic community and features an almost entirely Hispanic cast.[5][34] Weitz said that working on the film allowed him to explore his Hispanic heritage—his grandmother is from Mexico—and learn Spanish.[15] 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?,[35] about the effects of the state of Alabama's anti-immigration legislation, 2011's Alabama HB 56.[36][37][38] 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.[39]

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.[40]

Weitz scripted the first Star Wars stand-alone film, director Gareth Edwards' Rogue One (2016). Replacing Gary Whitta,[41][42] Weitz shares writing duties with acclaimed filmmaker Tony Gilroy. In 2017, Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe co-wrote the script for Fox 2000's The Mountain Between Us, a film adaptation of the novel of the same name, by Charles Martin.

Weitz will be writing the screen adaptation of 21 Years to Midnight, a movie about same-sex marriage documented in the legal case Obergefell v. Hodges.[43][44]

In February 2016, Weitz' name was attached to an MGM movie based on the Mossad and Shin Bet teams that captured Adolf Eichmann.[45]

The film Operation Finale, a historical drama thriller film directed by Weitz and written by Matthew Orton, will be released in the fall of 2018. Operation Finale stars Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, and Joe Alwyn.

Acting[edit]

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[edit]

Weitz has a production company with his brother Paul Weitz and producer Andrew Miano called Depth of Field. In March 2016, Weitz and his brother signed a two-year first look deal with Amazon Studios.[46]

Author[edit]

Weitz wrote a young adult novel trilogy series[52] that began with The Young World, in 2014,[53] 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.[54]

Personal life[edit]

Weitz is married to Mercedes Martinez, who is Cuban Mexican, and with whom he has one son, Sebastian Weitz[3] and a daughter, Athena Weitz.[55] Weitz said he met Martinez at the Burning Man festival.[54]

In 2004, Weitz was a co-investor with Paul Devitt in the Japanese restaurant and club called Tokio on N. Cahuenga in Los Angeles.[56][57]

On November 11, 2016, after Donald Trump won the presidential election, Weitz tweeted, "Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization."[58] Although he had apologized and deleted the tweet,[59] several Trump supporters have used the hashtag #DumpStarWars and claimed that Rogue One contained an anti-Trump scene.[60]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1998 Antz No Yes No Co-wrote with his brother, Paul Weitz, and Todd Alcott
1999 American Pie Uncredited No Yes Co-directed with his brother, Paul Weitz
2000 Nutty Professor II: The Klumps No Yes No Co-wrote the with Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, and Paul Weitz
2001 American Pie 2 No No Executive
Down to Earth Yes No No Co-director with his brother, Paul Weitz
2002 About a Boy Yes Yes No Co-wrote with Peter Hedges and Paul Weitz; co-director with his brother, Paul Weitz
2003 American Wedding No No Executive
2004 See This Movie No No Executive
In Good Company No No Yes
2006 Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas No No Yes
American Dreamz No No Executive
2007 The Golden Compass Yes Yes No
2008 Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist No No Yes
2009 A Single Man No No Yes
The Twilight Saga: New Moon Yes No No
2011 A Better Life Yes No Yes
2012 American Reunion No No Executive
2015 Cinderella No Yes No
2016 Good Kids No No Yes
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story No Yes No Co-screenwriter with Tony Gilroy
2017 Columbus No No Yes
A Happening of Monumental Proportions No No Yes Co-producer with his brother, Paul Weitz
The Mountain Between Us No Yes No Co-wrote with J. Mills Goodloe
2018 Operation Finale Yes No No

Television[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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[edit]

Works and publications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Holson, Laura M. (6 August 2015). "The Weitz Brothers Help Each Other Through Hollywood Hits and Misses". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Kelley, Tina (4 October 2002). "John Weitz, 79, Fashion Designer Turned Historian, Dies". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b Horn, John (21 June 2011). "Chris Weitz's 'Better Life' shines light on illegal immigrant issues". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ a b Horyn, Cathy (20 February 2000). "Legacy; Growing up Weitz". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b Cieply, Michael (1 June 2010). "Another Los Angeles in 'Gardener'". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ a b Gross, Terry (5 June 2002). "Directors Chris and Paul Weitz". Fresh Air. NPR. 
  7. ^ Laura M, Holson (June 6, 2015). "The Weitz Brothers Help Each Other Through Hollywood Hits and Misses". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Paula, Chin (October 26, 1992). "John Weitz". People Magazine. 
  9. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (June 1, 2011). "An Immigrant Struggles for a 'Better Life' for His Son". Jewish Journal. 
  10. ^ Pauley, Gay (January 4, 1983). "Many facets of John Weitz". United Press International. 
  11. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (March 5, 2012). "Paul Weitz on dads, De Niro and "Being Flynn"". Jewish Journal. 
  12. ^ a b Pfefferman, Naomi (13 March 2003). "About Two Boys: Late fashion designer John Weitz inspires his Academy Award-nominated sons, Paul and Chris". Jewish Journal. 
  13. ^ Bloom, Nate (1 September 2009). "Interfaith Celebrities: Inglourious Basterds' Surprises and Connections". Interfaith family.com. 
  14. ^ Segal, David (8 December 2007). "'Compass' director 'flying blind' with film". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. 
  15. ^ a b Weitz, Chris; Weitz, Paul (12 July 2011). "The WGAW Latino Writers Committee present Chris & Paul Weitz: Chris & Paul Weitz on their career choices and how they got started - 1 of 3". WGA West. 
  16. ^ Weitz, Chris; Weitz, Paul (12 July 2011). "The WGAW Latino Writers Committee present Chris & Paul Weitz: Chris & Paul Weitz on Twilight, A Better Life and Suck City - 2 of 3". WGA West. 
  17. ^ Weitz, Chris; Weitz, Paul (12 July 2011). "The WGAW Latino Writers Committee present Chris & Paul Weitz: Chris & Paul Weitz offer advice for surviving the film industry - 3 of 3". WGA West. 
  18. ^ Tobias, Scott (15 May 2002). "The Weitz Brothers". The A.V. Club. 
  19. ^ Malanowski, Jamie (19 May 2002). "Film; Filmmaking as a Family Affair". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ Leibowitz, Ed (May 2002). "Book Fellows: In the Stacks with Filmmakers Chris and Paul Weitz". Los Angeles. 
  21. ^ Gordon, Devin (24 November 2007). "A Director Confronts Some Dark Material". Newsweek. 
  22. ^ "Chris Weitz Interview". BridgeToTheStars.net. 8 December 2004. Archived from the original on 8 December 2004. 
  23. ^ Riefe, Jordan (18 November 2009). "'New Moon's' Chris Weitz: Grilled". The Wrap. 
  24. ^ Goodman, Dean (9 December 2007). "'Golden Compass' loses its way at U.S. box office". Reuters. 
  25. ^ McNary, Dave (1 January 2008). "Foreign box office hits record levels". Variety. 
  26. ^ Sanders, Peter (19 December 2007). "New Line and Director Settle 'Rings' Suit, Look to 'Hobbit'". Wall Street Journal. 
  27. ^ "The Golden Compass (2007)". Box Office Mojo. 
  28. ^ McNary, Dave (13 December 2008). "Chris Weitz to direct 'Twilight' sequel". Variety. 
  29. ^ Ellwood, Gregory (16 July 2009). "Exclusive: 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' Director Chris Weitz reveals all". HitFix. 
  30. ^ a b Gray, Brandon (23 November 2009). "Weekend Report: 'New Moon' Opens with Deafening Howl". Box Office Mojo. 
  31. ^ "All Time Box Office - Worldwide Openings #17". Box Office Mojo. 
  32. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (5 March 2010). "'New Moon' Director Chris Weitz Doesn't Want To Helm 'Breaking Dawn': 'I just don't believe I have it in me,' Weitz said of helming last 'Twilight' movie". MTV News. 
  33. ^ Montagne, Renee (20 June 2011). "Weitz Recruits Ex-Gang Members For 'A Better Life'". Morning Edition. NPR. 
  34. ^ Gross, Terry (16 June 2011). "Chris Weitz: From 'New Moon' To 'A Better Life'". Fresh Air. NPR. 
  35. ^ "Is This Alabama". Is This Alabama. 
  36. ^ Brookes, Julian (24 February 2012). "Oscars: How A Better Life's Chris Weitz and Demian Bichir Got Political". Rolling Stone. 
  37. ^ "Is This Alabama?" Hollywood Turns the Camera on Alabama". Center for American Progress. 15 February 2012. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. 
  38. ^ Pilkington, Ed (15 February 2012). "Hollywood director steps into row over Alabama's tough immigration law". The Guardian. 
  39. ^ Orndorff Troyan, Mary (16 February 2012). "Debate over Alabama's immigration law gets a taste of Hollywood politics (video)". The Birmingham News. 
  40. ^ "Cinderella Interview - Chris Weitz, Allison Shearmur and David Barron". Laughing Place. 11 March 2015. 
  41. ^ Kit, Borys; Siegemund-Broka, Austin (26 January 2015). "'Star Wars' Stand-alone Movie Hiring Oscar-Nominated Writer (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  42. ^ Kroll, Justin (26 January 2015). "Chris Weitz Joins Gareth Edwards' 'Star Wars' Standalone Pic as Writer". Variety. 
  43. ^ Siegel, Tatiana; Kit, Borys (10 February 2016). "'Rogue One' Writer Chris Weitz to Adapt Same-Sex Marriage Drama '21 Years to Midnight' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  44. ^ Siegel, Tatiana; Kit, Borys (10 December 2015). "'Rogue One' Writer Chris Weitz to Tackle 'Mountain Between Us' for Fox 2000 (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  45. ^ McNary, Dave (24 February 2016). "'Rogue One' Writer Chris Weitz in Talks to Direct Movie on Nazi War Criminal". Variety. 
  46. ^ Nakamura, Reid (29 March 2016). "Paul and Chris Weitz Sign First-Look Deal With Amazon Studios TV". TheWrap. 
  47. ^ "Exclusive: Weitz Brothers Making Elric - Paul to direct fantasy adaptation?". Empire. 29 May 2007. 
  48. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (25 August 2015). "'Shield of Straw' English-Language Remake in the Works With Chris Weitz". Variety. 
  49. ^ Hipes, Patrick (25 August 2015). "Takashi Miike's Cannes Pic 'Shield Of Straw' Getting English-Language Redo". Deadline Hollywood. 
  50. ^ Schilling, Mark (12 December 2014). "Chris and Paul Weitz to Remake Japan's 'Birthright' with ANEW". Variety. 
  51. ^ Kit, Borys (22 July 2016). "Comic-Con: Chris and Paul Weitz Team With Grant Morrison for 'Sinatoro' TV Series (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  52. ^ Kushigemachi, Todd (9 April 2012). "Chris Weitz in deal to pen novels". Variety. 
  53. ^ Anderson, Beck (28 August 2014). "Chris Weitz - The Young World". Naperville Community TV (NCTV17): Authors Revealed. 
  54. ^ a b Kellogg, Carolyn. "Chris Weitz talks about his YA novel, 'The Young World'". Los Angeles Times. 
  55. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bookish-with-sonya-walger/id1288877883?mt=2
  56. ^ "Top Pick: Tokio". Los Angeles. December 2004. 
  57. ^ Corcoran, Monica (21 March 2004). "BOÎTE; Actress Walks Into a Bar". The New York Times. 
  58. ^ Pallotta, Frank (November 11, 2016). "'Rogue One' writers take political jab at Trump with 'Star Wars against hate'". CNNMoney. 
  59. ^ Sims, David (November 21, 2015). "A Deleted Tweet Won't Hurt 'Rogue One'". The Atlantic. 
  60. ^ Lee, Tse Yin (December 9, 2016). "Love for Louis Tomlinson and Trump supporters say dump Star Wars". BBC News. 

External links[edit]