Lin on the Fast & Furious 6 set, Canary Islands, 2012
|Pinyin||Lín Yìbīn (Mandarin)|
|Origin||Cypress, California, U.S.|
11 October 1971 |
Justin Lin (traditional Chinese: 林詣彬; simplified Chinese: 林诣彬; pinyin: Lín Yìbīn) is a Taiwanese American film director whose films have grossed $2 billion worldwide. He is best known for his work on Better Luck Tomorrow, The Fast and the Furious 3–6 and Star Trek Beyond. He is also known for his work on television shows like Community and the second season of True Detective.
Lin was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Cypress, California, in Orange County. He attended Cypress High School and University of California, San Diego for two years before transferring to UCLA, where he earned a BA in Film & Television and a MFA in Film Directing and Production from the UCLA Film School.
Shopping for Fangs was Justin Lin's first feature film, which he co-directed with fellow UCLA Film School alumnus, Quentin Lee when they were still at UCLA. The film stars John Cho and is considered to be a "cult classic" amongst independent Asian American films.
In 2000, Lin wrote and directed a documentary, Crossover, which focused on the 70-year-old phenomenon of the Japanese American Basketball Leagues, which were established in the 1930s. He also directed a short film that also premiered at the Sundance Global Short Film Project, La Revolución de Iguodala! (2007), about one individual's message as that individual travels through time and becomes embodied in different races.
Better Luck Tomorrow, Annapolis
Lin's solo directorial debut was Better Luck Tomorrow. The film focuses on a circle of high-school-age Asian-Americans who become caught up in a cascading series of petty and then serious crimes. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. In a question and answer session following a festival screening, and in response to an audience member who asked director Lin if he thought it was irresponsible to portray Asian-Americans in such a negative light, Roger Ebert stood up and said, angrily, "You wouldn't say that to a white filmmaker." Ebert's approval of the film drew the attention of major studios, leading eventually to MTV Films buying the film for distribution, making it MTV Films' very first acquisition. The film was also an official selection of the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival, and was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at 2002 Sundance and the John Cassavetes Award at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards. The film arguably launched Lin's career into directing larger budget films, and Variety magazine also named him one of the "Top 10 Directors to Watch" in 2002.
His second feature film (and first film to be produced and distributed by a large studio, Touchstone Pictures) was Annapolis, which starred James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Donnie Wahlberg and Jordana Brewster. The film cost $26 million to make, but it only ended up grossing $17 million worldwide.[better source needed]
The Fast and the Furious franchise
His third feature film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, was released in North American cinemas on June 16, 2006. Despite mixed reviews, Tokyo Drift brought in over $24 million on its opening weekend. As of January 28, 2007, the domestic box office take has totalled $62,514,415 with another $95,953,877 from the foreign box office, resulting in total receipts of $158,468,292. With Tokyo Drift, Lin would establish his reputation as the director of the next three The Fast and the Furious films in the franchise. He was initially approached to direct the film after the success of Better Luck Tomorrow at Sundance and after wrapping his first studio film Annapolis, but merely wanted some "conditions", as the script was about "cars drifting around Buddhist statues and geisha girls." Instead, Lin wanted to make a film about Japan, which was "much more postmodern" as he mentioned, and intended to do a film on a more global scale that went against preconceived stereotypes.
After Tokyo Drift, Lin went on to do an independent film, Finishing the Game, which is a comedic interpretation of the events surrounding the production of Bruce Lee's final film, Game of Death. It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and was also selected as the opening night film at the 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, the 23rd Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the 30th Asian American International Film Festival in New York, the DisOrient Film Festival of Oregon, the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, the 2007 DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, and the 11th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival.
Lin returned to direct Fast & Furious, the fourth in the film series, which opened on April 3, 2009. On its first day of release the movie grossed $30.5 million, and peaked at the top spot of the weekend box office with $70,950,500. It held the title for the highest-grossing opening weekend ever in April at that time. As of May 24, 2009 the film has grossed a total of US$345,755,411 worldwide. Lin directed and released the follow-up film Fast Five in 2011, which holds the title for the highest-grossing opening weekend ever in April, with an estimated $83.6 million, and of any car-oriented film. The prior record was held by Cars, which grossed $60.1 million. Fast Five also broke box office records for being the second highest spring opening weekend, and surpassed Fast & Furious (2009) to become the highest-grossing film in the franchise. Fast Five has grossed over $625 million worldwide, making it number 63 on the all-time worldwide list of highest-grossing films (in unadjusted dollars), and the seventh highest-grossing film of 2011.
Lin continued to direct the films of the series with its sixth installment, Fast & Furious 6. It became the largest Memorial Day Weekend gross for a Universal movie ever (a record $120 million for a worldwide total of $317 million), also nearly doubling the gross of The Hangover Part III. It also became the highest grossing Universal Pictures movie in the UK. The film's opening weekend gross in the UK was the largest out of any other of the series. Specifically in the UK, the film took $4.4 million during its opening day from 462 screens, the biggest opening day for both The Fast and the Furious franchise and Universal in that market, the second-highest opening of 2013 behind Iron Man 3 ($4.7 million), and the number 1 film of the day with 54% of the market. In the UK, the film also finished as the number one film of the weekend, taking a total of $13.8 million; this figure made it the biggest opening for the franchise, Universal, a Vin Diesel or Dwayne Johnson film, and the second-biggest opening of 2013 again behind Iron Man 3 ($17.6 million). The film has also performed relatively well critically: for instance, on Metacritic, it has "generally favorable reviews" and on Rotten Tomatoes the film scores higher than a 73% with a 95% audience approval rating.
Star Trek franchise
Justin Lin has also directed several episodes of the NBC comedy series Community, including "Modern Warfare", which aired on May 6, 2010, as well as "Interpretive Dance", and "Introduction to Statistics".
Also in October 2013, Lin was announced to be directing the pilot of Scorpion, a CBS drama produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. The pilot would be based on the real life of Walter O'Brien. In addition to directing the first episode, Lin serves as one of the series Executive Producers, along with Nick Santora. The series is about an eccentric genius who leads an international team of super-intelligent experts tasked with guarding against complex threats of the modern age.
Lin directed two episodes in the second season of True Detective.
In October 2013, it was announced that Lin would be directing the pilot episode of an untitled TV crime series created by Shawn Ryan and Davey Holmes (Shameless) set in the Territory of Hawaii during the year 1957, which is on path to becoming the 50th state in the union two years later. A synopsis of the show describes it as "statehood and tourism are about to make a few men very rich, and when the brother of a small-time Hawaiian hustler is murdered, he resolves to wage war on the most powerful man on the island."
In July of 2016, Lin mentioned that he was re-attached as the director for a live-action modern-day adaptation of the manga Lone Wolf and Cub, where he also said he plans to have a predominantly Asian cast, saying “five-to-ten years ago, they would have wanted Keanu Reeves to play the dad. I think the cool thing about it is that filmmaking has gone global. There’s many ways to make a movie and I think Hollywood has to evolve.”
Lin has been attached to helm Times Square, based on The Black List script by Taylor Materne and Jacob Rubin, a crime thriller about "set in the last days of the old Times Square, when it was transitioning from a seedy lawless Midtown Manhattan dump to a family-friendly corporate mecca; in that backdrop, when a secret from his past is unearthed, a young man’s loyalties are divided between his neighborhood boss who raised him and the grizzled ex-cop who swore to protect him."
He plans to helm a 3D remake of The Shaolin Temple (1982) under his banner Perfect Storm Entertainment, which focuses more on projects in China. At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Lin acquired the narrative remake rights to the documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, the adaptation of which he plans to self-finance and produce through his Perfect Storm banner. Lin co-produced the China-U.S. co-production Hollywood Adventures, starring Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Zhao Wei. He also co-wrote the action-comedy.
In November 2012, it was announced that Lin planned to direct a sci-fi film entitled Hibernation. In February 2013, it was announced that Lin would helm a film adaptation of a thriller novel entitled The Breach by Patrick Lee.
Lin was also in talks to direct a reboot of the 1986 film Highlander, but exited the project due to scheduling conflicts with Fast & Furious 6. However, Lin will remain as an Executive Producer on the film. He has also been in talks to direct the feature film adaptation of David Henry Hwang's play, Chinglish.
In March 2012, it was announced that Lin was attached to possibly direct the live-action Hollywood remake of Lone Wolf and Cub. In August 2012, it was announced that Lin may possibly direct a film based on the 1992 Los Angeles riots entitled L.A. Riots for Universal Studios, with Brian Grazer producing. In November 2014, Deadline reported that Lin and Universal are discussing a return to direct the eighth Fast and Furious film with a multi-picture deal and an additional installment which will then close out the franchise.
Recurring film collaborators
Lin has collaborated with several of the actors he has worked with in his first film, Better Luck Tomorrow in his later films, including movies in both the Fast and Furious and Star Trek film franchises, as well as his later independent film, Finishing The Game. Within the four films he has directed in the Fast and Furious franchise, he has also collaborated with the same core group of actors, with Vin Diesel and Sung Kang appearing in all four Fast and Furious films that he directed. From Star Trek Beyond's cast, he previously collaborated with John Cho in both Better Luck Tomorrow and Shopping for Fangs. Lin's most frequent collaborator is Sung Kang, who has appeared in a total of six of Lin's films.
Other collaborations with actors also come from Lin's previous works on TV shows. Both Danny Pudi, who Lin directed on some episodes of Community, and Shohreh Aghdashloo, who was featured on an episode of Lin's produced show Scorpion, have roles in Star Trek Beyond.
Feature films directed:
TV shows directed:
Short films directed:
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- Blair Marnell, Nerdist, Justin Lin Still Attached to Lne Wolf and Cub Movie, http://nerdist.com/justin-lin-is-still-attached-to-the-lone-wolf-and-cub-movie/
- The Hollywood Reporter, Space Jam Sequel Finds Director, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/space-jam-sequel-finds-director-834978
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- Christian, Aymar Jean (December 26, 2012). "Squad 85, Internet Icon: YOMYOMF is the Web's most diverse TV channel.". Slate Magazine. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
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