From indie to Indominus Rex: Directors who made the blockbuster leap

  • Rohan Naahar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 16, 2015 01:23 IST

Jurassic World has scored the biggest opening of all time, raking in a global total of $524 million.

With all the records, director Colin Trevorrow has earned some serious clout. The director only had one tiny indie movie to his name before Steven Spielberg picked him to continue the widely-loved dinosaur franchise. And the director rose to the occasion: He brought back the same innocent sense of adventure to the film that made Spielberg's originals so memorable.

Trevorrow isn't the only director in recent times who's been picked from relative obscurity to helm huge studio tentpoles. Many young auteurs with micro-budget credits to their name have been spotted for their talents and have made the switch to studio movie-making.

Here is our list of directors who've made the jump from shoe-string budgets (in some cases even less) to having hundreds of millions at their disposal.

Colin Trevorrow

Director of the quirky indie gem Safety Not Guranteed, Trevorrow was rumoured to be directing Star Wars before he was confirmed as the man who would take us back to Isla Nublar. Trevorrow brought along with him from his first film a keen sense of humour, a knack for big ideas and Jake Johnson. Unfortunately, however, he recently announced that he wouldn't be returning for the sequel.

The Budgets -

Safety Not Guaranteed - $750,000

Jurassic World - $150,000,000

Gareth Evans

Gareth Edwards' Monsters was one of the best films of 2010. It essentially had just two characters, stunning special effects (that Edwards worked on himself), and a chilling tone. Edwards announced himself as a uniquely talented director after fooling us all into thinking Monsters was more expensive than it actually was. His Godzilla was no pushover either.

The Budgets -

Monsters - less than $500,000

Godzilla - $160,000,000

Marc Webb

500 Days of Summer is the Annie Hall of his day, which makes Marc Webb at least part Woody Allen. So after the initial, obligatory puns on his name, Webb's Spider-Man was acclaimed for its deftly-handled romantic plot, stylish action and indie inspired soundtrack (who else would think of putting Song for Zula in a superhero movie).

The Budgets -

500 Days of Summer - $7,500,000

The Amazing Spider-Man - $230,000,000
Josh Trank

Josh Trank and Max Landis made the most unique superhero film since Shyamalan's Unbreakable in Chronicle. Trank was immediately offered the Fantastic Four reboot, and the second Star Wars spinoff. But news of on-set troubles soured the anticipation of the superhero film and reportedly lost him the Star Wars movie, a fact that he denied.

The Budgets -

Chronicle - $12,000,000

Fantastic Four - $122,000,000

James Gunn

James Gunn's filmography is one that deserves note. He directed genre oddities like Slither and Super and also wrote Scooby Doo movies. And then, left his stamp all over Marvel's surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Budgets -

Super - $2,500,000

Guardians of the Galaxy - $195,000,000

Rupert Wyatt

Wyatt broke out on the festival circuit with The Escapist, a tiny existential prison-break movie that demanded immediate attention. And that is exactly what he got. His Planet of the Apes film kick-started the new series with great success and acclaim, and also boasted the first time an actor was seriously considered as an awards contender for a motion-capture performance.

The Budgets -

The Escapist - $3,900,000

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $93,000,000

Shane Black

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of the most criminally underseen movies of the last decade. Black's films are all plastered with his trademark style: The quick banter, meta humour, noir tendencies, and Christmas. And he pulled off the most remarkable feat of all with Iron Man 3. He made it a Shane Black movie, and it remains, to this day, the most unique of all the Marvel films.

The Budgets -

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - $15,000,000

Iron Man 3 - $200,000,000

Jose Padilha

Who does Hollywood call for a Robocop reboot? Why, of course the guy who made those fantastic cop movies in Brazil. Padilha later claimed that his Robocop experience was the worst of his life and for every 10 ideas he had, 9 were cut. 'It's hell here', he said.

The Budgets -

Elite Squad - $3,540,000

Robocop - $110,000,000

The Russo Brothers

The Russos stunned the whole world with the exceptionally competent job they did with the Captain America sequel. Perhaps, it was because of the complete lack of expectations, but the veterans of sitcoms like Arrested Development and Community made an excellent conspiracy-thriller, with great practical effects and timely thematic content. Move over paintball episodes.

The Budgets -

Community - It's a TV sitcom for God's sake

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $170,000,000

Alfonso Cuaron

Cuaron is of course an Academy Award winner now for the stunning Gravity. But a couple of decades ago, he was just a young Mexican director with serious art-house credibility. His Harry Potter film was the first in the series to significantly deviate from the others in terms of style and tone. Many still call it their favourite of the lot and it's hard not to see why: Azkaban was a great movie.

The Budgets -

Y tu Mama Tambien - $5,000,000

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - $130,000,000

Big Debuts

Some directors go a step further. While many hope for an opportunity to get to direct features for years, sometimes decades, these film-makers' first movies had some of the biggest budgets ever. All of them brought with themselves a specific talent: Joseph Kosinski's eye for architecture and stunning visuals, Rupert Sanders' work in television commercials and Carl Rinsch's special effects experience (not that it saved him from basically being fired from the movie and blocked from the editing room).

Joseph Kosinski

Tron Legacy - $170,000,000

Rupert Sanders

Snow White and the Hunstsman - $170,000,000

Carl Rinsch

47 Ronin - $225,000,000

Read further:

Jurassic World review: This is the best Jurassic Park sequel ever

Colour me shocked: Notorious cases of whitewashing in Hollywood

To hell and back: Movies that survived chaotic productions

The writer tweets as @NaaharRohan

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