Much to the dismay of Trekkers everywhere, Roberto Orci will be making his directorial debut with Star Trek 3. According to Variety, Orci, who wrote and produced the first two installments of the franchise with his business partner Alex Kurtzman, has been the frontrunner for some time now, although the names of the other directors being considered haven't been revealed. Orci's name has been in contention for the job since he and Kurtzman announced their split, so the news doesn't come as too much of a surprise. He's also been working on the script with J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, while J.J. Abrams will serve as producer.
Star Trek is just the latest franchise to take a chance on a new director, as studios have recently made it a habit of picking independent or first-timer directors to helm blockbusters like The Amazing Spider Man 2 or Godzilla. In fact, many of the most expensive films ever made were headed by directors making their feature film debut. Considering Star Trek Into Darkness had a budget of $185 million, it seems as if Orci will soon join the ranks of first-time directors taking on a big-budget franchise. In honor of the major challenge that Orci has ahead of him, we've rounded up the six most expensive directorial debuts and how those directors handled them. That way, Trekkies can try and manage their expectations.
Robert Stromberg, Maleficent - $180 millionWalt Disney Studios
Though fantasy fixtures like David Yates and Tim Burton were rumored to helm the Disney prequel, the studio instead handed the reins to Stromberg, an Oscar-winning production designer. We'll have to wait until the film's May 30 release in order to see how well he handled the material, but from the trailers it's clear that the director's previous experience has resulted in visually stunning movie.
Bob Peterson, Up - $175 millionWalt Disney Co. via Everett Collection
Before he took the helm for Up, Peterson was best known for providing voices for some of Pixar's most icoinc characters. However, his directorial debut blew his other projects away, earning five Academy Award nominations — including Best Picture, making it only the second animated film to be nominated in that category — a win for Best Animated Feature, and opening the Cannes Film Festival. Oh, and it grossed over $700 million at the box office.
Carl Erik Rinsch, 47 Ronin - $175 millionUniversal Pictures via Everett Collection
Loosely based on the fictional account of 47 samurai who avenged their master's death, the big budget film was entrusted to Rinsch by Universal, despite his lack of feature film experience. Unfortunately for the studio, it wasn't a gamble that paid off, as the film's release date was pushed back several times, it received largely negative reviews and it failed to break even at the box office. Hopefully Paramount won't find themselves in the same situation with Star Trek.
Rupert Sanders, Snow White and the Huntsman - $170 millionUniversal Pictures via Everett Collection
Prior to Snow White and the Hunstman, Sanders had primarily directed commercials, although that didn't stop Universal from trusting him with this fantasy epic. The resulting film did well at the box office even though it received mostly mixed reviews, and was rumored to be getting a sequel, with Sanders taking the helm once again. However, both films were overshadowed by the tabloid frenzy that resulted from Sanders' affair with his leading lady, Kristen Stewart, so it doesn't look like that will be happening any time soon.
Joseph Kosinski, Tron: Legacy - $170 million Walt Disney Studios via Everett Collection
When Disney decided to make a sequel to Tron almost thirty years after the first film was released, they turned to Kosinski, who had become known for his work with computer generated effects in the commercials he directed. Though Tron: Legacy received mixed reviews, choosing Kosinski turned out to be a smart choice in the long run, as the film grossed over $400 million during its run in theaters.
Rich Moore, Wreck-It Ralph - $165 million Walt Disney Studios via Everett Collection
Before taking on Wreck-It Ralph, Moore made his name directing episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama, which made him a perfect fit for the goofy, self-referential film. It was a major hit for Disney, grossing over $400 million at the box office, winning the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature and earning an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Picture. Unfortunately, it lost the award to Brave, because nobody loves a Pixar movie more than the Academy.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
Actor Gordon Jump, who played dimwitted radio station manager Mr. Carlson on the '70's sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, died Monday at the age of 71.
Jump had been under hospice care at his home southeast of Los Angeles. His cousin, Katherine Jump Wagner, told The Associated Press that Jump suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, which causes scarring of the air sacs of the lungs that leads to heart and respiratory failure.
Jump, a native of Dayton, Ohio, began his career working at radio and TV stations in the Midwest. In 1963, he moved to Los Angeles and launched his acting career, appearing in the television series Daniel Boone, Get Smart and The Partridge Family.
His most popular role, however, was that of Arthur Carlson on the CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. The series, which ran from 1978 through 1982, focused on the antics of the staff and management of WKRP, a rock 'n' roll format AM radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio.
One of WKRP's most famous and still talked-about shows is a Thanksgiving episode where Mr. Carlson arranges to have live turkeys dropped from a helicopter as an advertising stunt for the station. The turkeys, of course, plunge to their death to reporter Les Nessman's (played by Richard Sanders) blow-by-blow account of the event:
"It's a helicopter, and it's coming this way. It's flying something behind it, I can't quite make it out, it's a large banner and it says, uh - Happy... Thaaanksss... giving! ... From ... W ... K ... R... P! ... I can't tell just yet what they are, but - Oh my God, Johnny, they're turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, the humanity! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Not since the Hindenberg tragedy has there been anything like this!"
The miscalculation is hysterically summed up at the end of the episode by Jump's immortalized line: "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"
In the late '80s, Jump became a well-recognized talisman for Maytag as "Ol' Lonely," the repairman.
"Gordon was an incredibly talented actor and a remarkable human being," Maytag Corp chairman and chief executive officer Ralph Hake said.
Jump is survived by his wife, Anna, four daughters and a son.