Producer: Wes Anderson (Born 1 may 1969)
Career to Date:
Bottle Rocket (1996) – Directorial debut for Wes Anderson and the acting debuts of Owen and Luke Wilson. The film focuses on a trio of friends and their elaborate plan to pull off a simple robbery and go on the run. The film grossed over a million dollars at the box office, but gathered mixed critical reception.
Rushmore (1998) – About an eccentric teenager named Max Fisher (played by Jason Schwartzman) his friendship with rich industrialist Herman Blume and their love for elementary school teacher Rosemary Cross. The cast includes Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, and Luke Wilson. For Anderson, Rushmore announced his arrival on the international film circuit. The film grossed 17 million dollars at the box office, just below its 20 million dollar budget. The film was well received by critics getting an 87 % fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – About a family of estranged child prodigies who reunite when the Father announces that he has a terminal illness. With a hefty 20 million dollar budget Anderson developed an ensemble cast comprised of Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Gene Hackman and Angelica Houston. It is predominately an absurdest text with touches of irony. Hugely successful and gained an academy award for its screenplay. Empire magazine ranked it as the 159th greatest film of all time.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) – Anderson s fourth feature length film comprises an ensemble cast of Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, and Willem Defoe. Its about an eccentric oceanographer who sets out to exact revenge on the “jaguar shark” The film had a budget of 50 million dollars and despite being recognised at many festivals the film failed to win over critics.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007) – A comedy-drama starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman about a group of Brothers who travel across India by train in an attempt to bond one another. The film had a budget of 17 million and grossed 35 million at the box office. The film received mainly positive reviews with 67 % of critics on Rotten Tomatoes giving it favorable reviews.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – A stop motion film based on Roald Dahl’s childrens novel of the same name. The film had a budget of 40 million and grossed 46 million at the box office. The film was a critical success with positive reviews from a vast majority of critics. The film currently has a 93 % fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – A romantic comedy drama starring an ensemble cast comprised of Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton. Moonrise Kingdom received vastly positive reviews and mostly favorable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The film had a budget of $16 million and grossed $59 million at the box office.
Successes, Challenges, and Key Relationships:
Wes Anderson has seen many highs and lows in a career that has spanned a decade and nine feature films. His quirky style has become a directorial signature and he has made combined the genres of comedy, romance, and drama to make his style unique in recent times. From relatively poor showings at the box office with films such as Bottle Rocket, Anderson has recently created cult hits with films such as Moonrise Kingdom. The challenge for Anderson has been to convince a mainstream audience to accept his quirky take on the world and his past few films cut out of this mould have proved successful at the box office. Wes Anderson continually produces, writes, and directs his own films in regular collaboration with his creative compatriots Owen and Luke Wilson, Brother Eric Anderson, Roman Copolla, and Composer Mark Mothersbaugh. Anderson rarely strays from these cast members and every actor for each new film he does has been in at least one other previously. The combination of these key collaborators has been a key cog in the Andersen machine.
Wes Anderson Amex commercial – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmXk4M-7tzs – Encapsulates a lot of who and what he makes films for.
The production teams of Andersen’s films remain tight-nit and have rarely alternated from the combination of American Empirical Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, and Indian paintbrush. This has allowed for Andersen to continue his projects with those who keep a similar mindset to himself. This production team distribute via independent film festivals to gather popular appeal and then sell their films to an international distributor. Touchstone pictures and Fox Searchlight have been regular distributors of Andersen’s films and recently Focus Films bought the rights to Andersen’s most recent film “Moonrise Kingdom”. Andersen’s films are appealing to the audiences because of their distinct style. There are strong central brand ideas and a consistently reappearing cast who each have their own distinctive reputations in the industry. What an Andersen film offers to its audience is an escape from the constrictions of modern society. In recent years Andersen’s films generate their own P.R through social media sites and spread through word of mouth. This means that there is not as much direct brand marketing that needs to be done. Andersen also creates fan bases for each film and offers artifacts from the set to be purchased. This is a way of generating hype for the films.
Wes Andersen receives worldwide praise and recognition for his films. He keeps them specific to a certain target market and rarely aims to surpass the 20 million dollars he makes at the box office. What the Anderson team gets back in their work that isn’t money is a cult following who remain loyal Anderson lovers.
Andersons Creative Process:
Wes Anderson goes through a number of processes in order to achieve his vision. His films are wildly imaginative worlds and they are created from a range of emotions. His latest film Moonrise Kingdom is based around a childhood romance. He states; “this is the only time I’ve been consciously trying to capture a sensation, which is that emotion of when you’re a 12-year-old and you fall in love….I remember that being such a powerful feeling, it was almost like going into a fantasy world. It’s stuck with me enough that I think about it still”. Many of Anderson’s films couple his fantastical imagination with emotions of childhood. The Royal Tenenbaums is also centered on grown adults who have left their prodigious childhood qualities behind them. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is another example of this duality Anderson infuses in his films of Childhood imaginations and Adult realities. He depicts the ‘adult’ world as one that is to be feared. In the Adult world failure will meet us all at one point of our lives, and the childhood world as one that is to be nurtured and valued, where the imagination is able to run freely without the fear of being caught. In Andersons films despair and desperation come through as well as a sense of dehumanisation. Anderson touches on suicide and mental illness and how those two are linked in every action the characters undertake. There is never any date or time mentioned and there is certain timeliness to the scenarios. In this way, post modernism plays a part in Anderson’s films. Anderson’s films also explore the parallel between the classes of the rich and the poor, and those who never work, but are rich through inheritance. His films showcase the relationships between those two classes and highlight the social problems inherent within the class without a class. His films also explore the artifice and materialism with a moody tempo that ranges from the humorous to the depressed to the dramatic and vice versa.
Anderson has extensive experience in advertising and this comes through in his films by having the character remain the same and the letting the world around them change.
- The Royal Tenenbaums – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pyBB7y8fDU
- Wes Anderson Amex commercial – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmXk4M-7tzs – Encapsulates a lot of who and what he makes films for.