Steven Allan Spielberg (born December 18, 1946) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as archetypes of modern Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking. In later years, his films began addressing such issues as the Holocaust, slavery, war and terrorism. He is considered one of the most popular and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. He is also one of the co-founders of DreamWorks movie studio.
Spielberg won the Academy Award for Best Director for Schindler's List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Three of Spielberg's films—Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993)—achieved box office records, each becoming the highest-grossing film made at the time. To date, the unadjusted gross of all Spielberg-directed films exceeds $8.5 billion worldwide. Forbes puts Spielberg's wealth at $3.0 billion.
Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a Jewish family. His mother, Leah Adler (née Posner), was a restaurateur and concert pianist, and his father, Arnold Spielberg, was an electrical engineer involved in the development of computers. He spent his childhood in Haddon Township, New Jersey, where he saw one of his first films in a theater, as well as in Scottsdale, Arizona. Throughout his early teens, Spielberg made amateur 8 mm "adventure" films with his friends, the first of which he shot at the Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant in Scottsdale. He charged admission (25 cents) to his home films (which involved the wrecks he staged with his Lionel train set) while his sister sold popcorn.
In 1958, he became a Boy Scout, and fulfilled a requirement for the photography merit badge by making a nine-minute 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. Spielberg recalled years later to a magazine interviewer, "My dad's still-camera was broken, so I asked the scoutmaster if I could tell a story with my father's movie camera. He said yes, and I got an idea to do a Western. I made it and got my merit badge. That was how it all started." At age 13, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war film he titled Escape to Nowhere which was based on a battle in east Africa. In 1963, at age 16, Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight (which would later inspire Close Encounters). The film, which had a budget of US$500, was shown in his local cinema and generated a profit of $1. He also made several WWII films inspired by his father's war stories.
After his parents divorced, he moved to Saratoga, California with his father. His three sisters and mother remained in Arizona. He attended Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona for three years; Spielberg graduated from Saratoga High School in 1965. It was during this time Spielberg attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
Spielberg attended Hebrew school from 1953 to 1957, in classes taught by Rabbi Albert L. Lewis, who would later be memorialized as the main character in Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith.
As a child, Spielberg faced difficulty reconciling being an Orthodox Jew with the perception of him by other children he played with. "It isn't something I enjoy admitting," he once said, "but when I was 7, 8, 9 years old, God forgive me, I was embarrassed because we were Orthodox Jews. I was embarrassed by the outward perception of my parents' Jewish practices. I was never really ashamed to be Jewish, but I was uneasy at times. My grandfather always wore a long black coat, black hat and long white beard. I was embarrassed to invite my friends over to the house, because he might be in a corner davening [praying], and I wouldn't know how to explain this to my WASP friends." Spielberg also said he suffered from acts of anti-Semitic prejudice in his early life: he later said, "In high school, I got smacked and kicked around. Two bloody noses. It was horrible."
After moving to California, he applied to attend the film school at University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television two separate times, but was unsuccessful. He subsequently became a student at California State University, Long Beach. While attending Long Beach State in the 1960s, Spielberg became a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. His actual career began when he returned to Universal Studios as an unpaid, seven-day-a-week intern and guest of the editing department (uncredited). After Spielberg became famous, USC awarded him an honorary degree in 1994, and in 1996 he became a trustee of the university. In 2002, thirty-five years after starting college, Spielberg finished his degree via independent projects at CSULB, and was awarded a B.A. in Film Production and Electronic Arts with an option in Film/Video Production.
As an intern and guest of Universal Studios, Spielberg made his first short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute Amblin' (1968), the title of which Spielberg later took as the name of his production company, Amblin Entertainment. After Sidney Sheinberg, then the vice-president of production for Universal's TV arm, saw the film, Spielberg became the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio (Universal). He dropped out of Long Beach State in 1969 to take up the television director contract at Universal Studios and began his career as a professional director. In 1969, Variety announced that Spielberg would direct his first full length film, Malcolm Winkler, written by Claudia Salter, produced by John Orland, with Frank Price being the executive producer. However, because of the difficulty in casting the key male role, the film was not made. Steven Spielberg also attended Brookdale Community College for undergrad.
Early career (1969–75)
His first professional TV job came when he was hired to do[clarification needed] one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery. The segment, "Eyes," starred Joan Crawford, and she and Spielberg were reportedly close friends until her death. The episode is unusual in his body of work, in that the camerawork is more highly stylized than his later, more "mature" films. After this, and an episode of Marcus Welby, M.D., Spielberg got his first feature-length assignment: an episode of The Name of the Game called "L.A. 2017". This futuristic science fiction episode impressed Universal Studios and they signed him to a short contract. He did another segment on Night Gallery and did some work for shows such as Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law and The Psychiatrist before landing the first series episode of Columbo (previous episodes were actually TV films).
Based on the strength of his work, Universal signed Spielberg to do four TV films. The first was a Richard Matheson adaptation called Duel. The film is about a psychotic Peterbilt 281 tanker truck driver who chases a terrified driver (Dennis Weaver) of a small Plymouth Valiant and tries to run him off the road. Special praise of this film by the influential British critic Dilys Powell was highly significant to Spielberg's career. Another TV film (Something Evil) was made and released to capitalize on the popularity of The Exorcist, then a major best-selling book which had not yet been released as a film. He fulfilled his contract by directing the TV film length pilot of a show called Savage, starring Martin Landau. Spielberg's debut feature film was The Sugarland Express, about a married couple who are chased by police as the couple tries to regain custody of their baby. Spielberg's cinematography for the police chase was praised by reviewers, and The Hollywood Reporter stated that "a major new director is on the horizon." However, the film fared poorly at the box office and received a limited release.
Studio producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg the director's chair for Jaws, a thriller-horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark. Spielberg has often referred to the gruelling shoot as his professional crucible. Despite the film's ultimate, enormous success, it was nearly shut down due to delays and budget over-runs.
But Spielberg persevered and finished the film. It was an enormous hit, winning three Academy Awards (for editing, original score and sound) and grossing more than $470 million worldwide at the box office. It also set the domestic record for box office gross, leading to what the press described as "Jawsmania." Jaws made him a household name, as well as one of America's youngest multi-millionaires, and allowed Spielberg a great deal of autonomy for his future projects. It was nominated for Best Picture and featured Spielberg's first of three collaborations with actor Richard Dreyfuss.
Mainstream breakthrough (1975–93)
Rejecting offers to direct Jaws 2, King Kong and Superman, Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a film about UFOs, which became Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). One of the rare films both written and directed by Spielberg, Close Encounters was a critical and box office hit, giving Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy as well as earning six other Academy Awards nominations. It won Oscars in two categories (Cinematography, Vilmos Zsigmond, and a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing, Frank E. Warner). This second blockbuster helped to secure Spielberg's rise. His next film, 1941, a big-budgeted World War II farce, was not nearly as successful and though it grossed over $92.4 million dollars worldwide (and did make a small profit for co-producing studios Columbia and Universal) it was seen as a disappointment, mainly with the critics.
Spielberg then revisited his Close Encounters project and, with financial backing from Columbia Pictures, released Close Encounters: The Special Edition in 1980. For this, Spielberg fixed some of the flaws he thought impeded the original 1977 version of the film and also, at the behest of Columbia, and as a condition of Spielberg revising the film, shot additional footage showing the audience the interior of the mothership seen at the end of the film (a decision Spielberg would later regret as he felt the interior of the mothership should have remained a mystery). Nevertheless, the re-release was a moderate success, while the 2001 DVD release of the film restored the original ending.
Next, Spielberg teamed with Star Wars creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of the Indiana Jones films. The archaeologist and adventurer hero Indiana Jones was played by Harrison Ford (whom Lucas had previously cast in his Star Wars films as Han Solo). The film was considered an homage to the cliffhanger serials of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It became the biggest film at the box office in 1981, and the recipient of numerous Oscar nominations including Best Director (Spielberg's second nomination) and Best Picture (the second Spielberg film to be nominated for Best Picture). Raiders is still considered a landmark example of the action-adventure genre. The film also led to Ford's casting in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.
Steven Spielberg with President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan after a showing of E.T. at the White House
A year later, Spielberg returned to the science fiction genre with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It was the story of a young boy and the alien he befriends, who was accidentally left behind by his companions and is attempting to return home. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial went on to become the top-grossing film of all time. E.T. was also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.
Between 1982 and 1985, Spielberg produced three high-grossing films: Poltergeist (for which he also co-wrote the screenplay), a big-screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone (for which he directed the segment "Kick The Can"), and The Goonies (Spielberg, executive producer, also wrote the story on which the screenplay was based).
His next directorial feature was the Raiders prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Teaming up once again with Lucas and Ford, the film was plagued with uncertainty for the material and script. This film and the Spielberg-produced Gremlins led to the creation of the PG-13 rating due to the high level of violence in films targeted at younger audiences. In spite of this, Temple of Doom is rated PG by the MPAA, even though it is the darkest and, possibly, most violent Indy film. Nonetheless, the film was still a huge blockbuster hit in 1984. It was on this project that Spielberg also met his future wife, actress Kate Capshaw.
In 1985, Spielberg released The Color Purple, an adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, about a generation of empowered African-American women during depression-era America. Starring Whoopi Goldberg and future talk-show superstar Oprah Winfrey, the film was a box office smash and critics hailed Spielberg's successful foray into the dramatic genre. Roger Ebert proclaimed it the best film of the year and later entered it into his Great Films archive. The film received eleven Academy Award nominations, including two for Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. However, much to the surprise of many, Spielberg did not get a Best Director nomination. The Color Purple is the second of two Spielberg films not to be scored by John Williams, the first being Duel.
In 1987, as China began opening to Western capital investment, Spielberg shot the first American film in Shanghai since the 1930s, an adaptation of J. G. Ballard's autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun, starring John Malkovich and a young Christian Bale. The film garnered much praise from critics and was nominated for several Oscars, but did not yield substantial box office revenues. Reviewer Andrew Sarris called it the best film of the year and later included it among the best films of the decade. Spielberg was also a co-producer of the 1987 film *batteries not included.
After two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Once again teaming up with Lucas and Ford, Spielberg also cast actor Sean Connery in a supporting role as Indy's father. The film earned generally positive reviews and was another box office success, becoming the highest grossing film worldwide that year; its total box office receipts even topped those of Tim Burton's much-anticipated film Batman, which had been the bigger hit domestically. Also in 1989, he re-united with actor Richard Dreyfuss for the romantic comedy-drama Always, about a daredevil pilot who extinguishes forest fires. Spielberg's first romantic film, Always was only a moderate success and had mixed reviews.
In 1991, Spielberg directed Hook, about a middle-aged Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, who returns to Neverland. Despite innumerable rewrites and creative changes coupled with mixed reviews, the film proved popular with audiences, making over $300 million worldwide (from a $70 million budget).
In 1993, Spielberg returned to the adventure genre with the film version of Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park, about a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. With revolutionary special effects provided by friend George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic company, the film would eventually become the highest grossing film of all time (at the worldwide box office) with $914.7 million. This would be the third time that one of Spielberg's films became the highest grossing film ever.
Spielberg's next film, Schindler's List, was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust. Schindler's List earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture). With the film a huge success at the box office, Spielberg used the profits to set up the Shoah Foundation, a non-profit organization that archives filmed testimony of Holocaust survivors. In 1997, the American Film Institute listed it among the 10 Greatest American Films ever Made (#9) which moved up to (#8) when the list was remade in 2007.
Spielberg in 1990
In 1994, Spielberg took a hiatus from directing to spend more time with his family and build his new studio, DreamWorks, with partners Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. In 1997, he helmed the sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park with The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which generated over $618 million worldwide despite mixed reviews, and was the second biggest hit of 1997 behind James Cameron's Titanic (which topped the original Jurassic Park to become the new recordholder for box office receipts).
His next film, Amistad, was based on a true story (like Schindler's List), specifically about an African slave rebellion. Despite decent reviews from critics, it did not do well at the box office. Spielberg released Amistad under DreamWorks Pictures, which issued all of his films from Amistad until Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in May 2008 (see below).
In 1998, Spielberg re-visited Close Encounters yet again, this time for a more definitive 137-minute "Collector's Edition" that puts more emphasis on the original 1977 release, while adding some elements of the previous 1980 "Special Edition," but deleting the latter version's "Mothership Finale," which Spielberg regretted shooting in the first place, feeling it should have remained ambiguous in the minds of viewers.
His next theatrical release in that same year was the World War II film Saving Private Ryan, about a group of U.S. soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) sent to bring home a paratrooper whose three older brothers were killed in the last twenty four hours of action in France. The film was a huge box office success, grossing over $481 million worldwide and was the biggest film of the year at the North American box office (worldwide it made second place after Michael Bay's Armageddon). Spielberg won his second Academy Award for his direction. The film's graphic, realistic depiction of combat violence influenced later war films such as Black Hawk Down and Enemy at the Gates. The film was also the first major hit for DreamWorks, which co-produced the film with Paramount Pictures (as such, it was Spielberg's first release from the latter that was not part of the Indiana Jones series). Later, Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced a TV mini-series based on Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers. The ten-part HBO mini-series follows Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division's 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The series won a number of awards at the Golden Globes and the Emmys.
In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick's final project, A.I. Artificial Intelligence which Kubrick was unable to begin during his lifetime. A futuristic film about a humanoid android longing for love, A.I. featured groundbreaking visual effects and a multi-layered, allegorical storyline, adapted by Spielberg himself. Though the film's reception in the US was relatively muted, it performed better overseas for a worldwide total box office gross of $236 million.
Spielberg and actor Tom Cruise collaborated for the first time for the futuristic neo-noir Minority Report, based upon the science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick about a Washington D.C. police captain in the year 2054 who has been foreseen to murder a man he has not yet met. The film received strong reviews with the review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 92% approval rating, reporting that 206 out of the 225 reviews they tallied were positive. The film earned over $358 million worldwide. Roger Ebert, who named it the best film of 2002, praised its breathtaking vision of the future as well as for the way Spielberg blended CGI with live-action.
Spielberg's 2002 film Catch Me If You Can is about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It earned Christopher Walken an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film is known for John Williams' score and its unique title sequence. It was a hit both commercially and critically.
Spielberg collaborated again with Tom Hanks along with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in 2004's The Terminal, a warm-hearted comedy about a man of Eastern European descent who is stranded in an airport. It received mixed reviews but performed relatively well at the box office. In 2005, Empire magazine ranked Spielberg number one on a list of the greatest film directors of all time.
Also in 2005, Spielberg directed a modern adaptation of War of the Worlds (a co-production of Paramount and DreamWorks), based on the H. G. Wells book of the same name (Spielberg had been a huge fan of the book and the original 1953 film). It starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, and, as with past Spielberg films, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) provided the visual effects. Unlike E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which depicted friendly alien visitors, War of the Worlds featured violent invaders. The film was another huge box office smash, grossing over $591 million worldwide.
Spielberg in 2011, at the Paris premiere of The Adventures of Tintin.
Spielberg's film Munich, about the events following the 1972 Munich Massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games, was his second film essaying Jewish relations in the world (the first being Schindler's List). The film is based on Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, a book by Canadian journalist George Jonas. It was previously adapted into the 1986 made-for-TV film Sword of Gideon. The film received strong critical praise, but underperformed at the U.S. and world box-office; it remains one of Spielberg's most controversial films to date. Munich received five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, Film Editing, Original Music Score (by John Williams), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for Spielberg. It was Spielberg's sixth Best Director nomination and fifth Best Picture nomination.
Spielberg directed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which wrapped filming in October 2007 and was released on May 22, 2008. This was his first film not to be released by DreamWorks since 1997. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, and has performed very well in theaters. As of May 10, 2010, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has grossed $317 million domestically, and over $786 million worldwide.
In early 2009, Spielberg shot the first film in a planned trilogy of motion capture films based on The Adventures of Tintin, written by Belgian artist Hergé, with Peter Jackson. The Adventures of Tintin, was not released until October 2011, due to the complexity of the computer animation involved. The world premiere took place on October 22, 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. The film was released in North American theaters on December 21, 2011, in Digital 3D and IMAX. It received generally positive reviews from critics, and grossed over $373 million worldwide. The Adventures of Tintin won the award for Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globe Awards that year. It is the first non-Pixar film to win the award since the category was first introduced. Jackson has been announced to direct the second film, which Spielberg will produce.
Spielberg followed that with War Horse, shot in England in the summer of 2010. It was released just four days after The Adventures of Tintin, on December 25, 2011. The film, based on the novel of the same name written by Michael Morpurgo and published in 1982, follows the long friendship between a British boy and his horse Joey before and during World War I — the novel was also adapted into a hit play in London which is still running there, as well as on Broadway. The film was released and distributed by Disney, with whom DreamWorks has made a 30-picture deal. War Horse received generally positive reviews from critics, and was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Since the mid-1980s, Spielberg has increased his role as a film producer. He headed up the production team for several cartoons, including the Warner Brothers hits Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Toonsylvania, and Freakazoid!, for which he collaborated with Jean MacCurdy and Tom Ruegger. Due to his work on these series, in the official titles, most of them say, "Steven Spielberg presents" as well as making numerous cameos on the shows. Spielberg also produced the Don Bluth animated features, An American Tail and The Land Before Time, which were released by Universal Studios. He also served as one of the executive producers of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and its three related shorts (Tummy Trouble, Roller Coaster Rabbit, Trail Mix-Up), which were all released by Disney, under both the Walt Disney Pictures and the Touchstone Pictures banners. He was furthermore, for a short time, the executive producer of the long-running medical drama ER. In 1989, he brought the concept of The Dig to LucasArts. He contributed to the project from that time until 1995 when the game was released. He also collaborated with software publishers Knowledge Adventure on the multimedia game Steven Spielberg's Director's Chair, which was released in 1996. Spielberg appears, as himself, in the game to direct the player. The Spielberg name provided branding for a Lego Moviemaker kit, the proceeds of which went to the Starbright Foundation.
Spielberg at The Pentagon (1999)
In 1993, Spielberg acted as executive producer for the highly anticipated television series seaQuest DSV; a science fiction series set "in the near future" starring Roy Scheider (who Spielberg had directed in Jaws) and Jonathan Brandis akin to Star Trek: The Next Generation that aired on Sundays at 8:00 pm. on NBC. While the first season was moderately successful, the second season did less well. Spielberg's name no longer appeared in the third season and the show was cancelled mid way through it.
Spielberg served as an uncredited executive producer on The Haunting, The Prince of Egypt, Just Like Heaven, Shrek, Road to Perdition, and Evolution. He served as an executive producer for the 1998 film Men in Black, and its sequels, Men in Black II and Men in Black III. In 2005, he served as a producer of Memoirs of a Geisha, an adaptation of the novel by Arthur Golden, a film he was previously attached to as director. In 2006, Spielberg co-executive produced with famed filmmaker Robert Zemeckis a CGI children's film called Monster House, marking their eighth collaboration since 1990's Back to the Future Part III. He also teamed with Clint Eastwood for the first time in their careers, co-producing Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima with Robert Lorenz and Eastwood himself. He earned his twelfth Academy Award nomination for the latter film as it was nominated for Best Picture. Spielberg served as executive producer for Disturbia and the Transformers live action film with Brian Goldner, an employee of Hasbro. The film was directed by Michael Bay and written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and Spielberg continued to collaborate on the sequels, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. In 2011, he produced the J. J. Abrams science fiction thriller film Super 8 for Paramount Pictures.
Other major television series Spielberg produced were Band of Brothers, Taken and The Pacific. He was an executive producer on the critically acclaimed 2005 TV miniseries Into the West which won two Emmy awards, including one for Geoff Zanelli's score. For his 2010 miniseries The Pacific he teamed up once again with co-producer Tom Hanks, with Gary Goetzman also co-producing'. The miniseries is believed to have cost $250 million and is a 10-part war miniseries centered on the battles in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Writer Bruce McKenna, who penned several installments of (Band of Brothers), was the head writer.
In 2007, Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett co-produced On the Lot a short-lived TV reality show about filmmaking. Despite this, he never gave up working on television. He currently serves as one of the executive producers on United States of Tara, a show created by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody which they developed together (Spielberg is uncredited as creator).
In 2011, Spielberg launched Falling Skies, a science fiction television series, on the TNT network. He developed the series with Robert Rodat and is credited as an executive producer. Spielberg is also producing the Fox TV series Terra Nova. Terra Nova begins in the year 2149 when all life on the planet Earth is threatened with extinction resulting in scientists opening a door that allows people to travel back 85 million years to prehistoric times. Spielberg also produced The River and Smash.
Steven Spielberg had cameo roles in The Blues Brothers, Gremlins, Vanilla Sky, and Austin Powers in Goldmember, as well as small uncredited cameos in a handful of other films, such as a life-station worker in Jaws. He also made numerous cameo roles in the Warner Brothers cartoons he produced, such as Animaniacs, and even made reference to some of his films. Spielberg voiced himself in the film Paul, and in one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures titled Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian.
Involvement in video games
Apart from being an ardent gamer Spielberg has had a long history of involvement in video games. In 2005 the director signed with Electronic Arts to collaborate on three games including an action game and an award winning puzzle game for the Wii called Boom Blox (and its 2009 sequel: Boom Blox Bash Party). Previously, he was involved in creating the scenario for the adventure game The Dig. In 1996, Spielberg worked on and shot original footage for a movie-making simulation game called Steven Spielberg's Director's Chair. He is the creator of the Medal of Honor series by Electronic Arts. He is credited in the special thanks section of the 1998 video game Trespasser.
Upcoming and announced projects
Spielberg is currently in post-production on Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's bestseller Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film follows Lincoln's leadership during the final portion of the American Civil War. Written by Tony Kushner, the film was shot in Richmond, Virginia in late 2011 and will be released at Christmas of 2012 by Disney's Touchstone Pictures division in the United States and Twentieth Century Fox overseas.
From July–September 2012 Spielberg is scheduled to shoot a $200 million adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson's novel Robopocalypse, adapted for the screen by Drew Goddard. The film follows a global human war against a robot uprising about 15–20 years in the future and will be shot in Montreal. Like Lincoln, it will be released by Disney in the United States and Fox overseas., on April 25, 2014.
In 2009, Spielberg reportedly tried to obtain the screen rights to make a film based on Microsoft's Halo series. In September 2008, Steven Spielberg bought film rights for John Wyndham's novel Chocky and is interested in directing it. He is also interested in making an adaptation of A Steady Rain, Pirate Latitudes, The 39 Clues, and Under the Dome, along with a remake of When Worlds Collide.
In May 2009, Steven Spielberg bought the rights to the life story of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Spielberg will be involved not only as producer but also as a director. However, the purchase was made from the King estate, led by son Dexter, while the two other surviving children, the Reverend Bernice and Martin III, immediately threatened to sue, not having given their approvals to the project.
In June 2006, Steven Spielberg announced he would direct a scientifically accurate film about "a group of explorers who travel through a worm hole and into another dimension", from a treatment by Kip Thorne and producer Lynda Obst. In January 2007, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan met with them to discuss adapting Obst and Thorne's treatment into a narrative screenplay. The screenwriter suggested the addition of a "time element" to the treatment's basic idea, which was welcomed by Obst and Thorne. In March of that year, Paramount hired Nolan as well as scientists from Caltech, forming a workshop who will begin adapting the treatment after completing the script for Warner Bros.' The Chicago Fire. The following July, Kip Thorne said there was a push by people for him to portray himself in the film Interstellar.
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Spielberg's films often deal with several recurring themes. Most of his films deal with ordinary characters searching for or coming in contact with extraordinary beings or finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. In an AFI interview in August 2000 Spielberg commented on his interest in the possibility of extra terrestrial life and how it has influenced some of his films. Spielberg described himself as feeling like an alien during childhood, and his interest came from his father, a science fiction fan, and his opinion that aliens would not travel light years for conquest, but instead curiosity and sharing of knowledge.
A strong consistent theme in his family-friendly work is a childlike, even naïve, sense of wonder and faith, as attested by works such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hook, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence. According to Warren Buckland, these themes are portrayed through the use of low height camera tracking shots, which have become one of Spielberg's directing trademarks. In the cases when his films include children (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Empire of the Sun, Jurassic Park, etc.), this type of shot is more apparent, but it is also used in films like Munich, Saving Private Ryan, The Terminal, Minority Report, and Amistad. If one views each of his films, one will see this shot utilized by the director, notably the water scenes in Jaws are filmed from the low-angle perspective of someone swimming. Another child oriented theme in Spielberg's films is that of loss of innocence and coming-of-age. In Empire of the Sun, Jim, a well-groomed and spoiled English youth, loses his innocence as he suffers through World War II China. Similarly, in Catch Me If You Can, Frank naively and foolishly believes that he can reclaim his shattered family if he accumulates enough money to support them.
The most persistent theme throughout his films is tension in parent-child relationships. Parents (often fathers) are reluctant, absent or ignorant. Peter Banning in Hook starts off in the beginning of the film as a reluctant married-to-his-work parent who through the course of his film regains the respect of his children. The notable absence of Elliott's father in E.T., is the most famous example of this theme. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, it is revealed that Indy has always had a very strained relationship with his father, who is a professor of medieval literature, as his father always seemed more interested in his work, specifically in his studies of the Holy Grail, than in his own son, although his father does not seem to realize or understand the negative effect that his aloof nature had on Indy (he even believes he was a good father in the sense that he taught his son "self reliance," which is not how Indy saw it). Even Oskar Schindler, from Schindler's List, is reluctant to have a child with his wife. Munich depicts Avner as a man away from his wife and newborn daughter. There are of course exceptions; Brody in Jaws is a committed family man, while John Anderton in Minority Report is a shattered man after the disappearance of his son. This theme is arguably the most autobiographical aspect of Spielberg's films, since Spielberg himself was affected by his parents' divorce as a child and by the absence of his father. Furthermore to this theme, protagonists in his films often come from families with divorced parents, most notably E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (protagonist Elliot's mother is divorced) and Catch Me If You Can (Frank Abagnale's mother and father split early on in the film). Little known also is Tim in Jurassic Park (early in the film, another secondary character mentions Tim and Lex's parents' divorce). The family often shown divided is often resolved in the ending as well. Following this theme of reluctant fathers and father figures, Tim looks to Dr. Alan Grant as a father figure. Initially, Dr. Grant is reluctant to return those paternal feelings to Tim. However, by the end of the film, he has changed, and the kids even fall asleep with their heads on his shoulders.
Most of his films are generally optimistic in nature. Critics frequently accuse his films of being overly sentimental, though Spielberg feels it is fine as long as it is disguised. The influence comes from directors Frank Capra and John Ford.
In terms of casting and production itself, Spielberg has a known penchant for working with actors and production members from his previous films. For instance, he has cast Richard Dreyfuss in several films: Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Always. Aside from his role as Indiana Jones, Spielberg also cast Harrison Ford as a headteacher in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (though the scene was ultimately cut). Although Spielberg directed him only once (in Raiders of the Lost Ark, for which he voiced many of the animals), veteran voice actor Frank Welker has lent his voice in a number of productions Spielberg has executively produced from Gremlins to its sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch, as well as The Land Before Time (and lending his voice to its sequels which Spielberg had no involvement in), Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and television shows such as Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and SeaQuest DSV. Recently Spielberg has used Tom Hanks on several occasions and has cast him in Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal. Spielberg also has collaborated with Tom Cruise twice on Minority Report and War of the Worlds. Spielberg has also cast Shia LaBeouf in five films: Transformers, Eagle Eye, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Spielberg prefers working with production members with whom he has developed an existing working relationship. An example of this is his production relationship with Kathleen Kennedy who has served as producer on all his major films from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to the recent Munich. Other working relationships include Allen Daviau, a childhood friend and cinematographer who shot the early Spielberg film Amblin and most of his films up to Empire of the Sun; Janusz Kamiński who has shot every Spielberg film since Schindler's List (see List of film director and cinematographer collaborations); and the film editor Michael Kahn who has edited every film directed by Spielberg from Close Encounters to Munich (except E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). Most of the DVDs of Spielberg's films have documentaries by Laurent Bouzereau.
A famous example of Spielberg working with the same professionals is his long time collaboration with John Williams and the use of his musical scores in all of his films since The Sugarland Express (except The Color Purple and Twilight Zone: The Movie). One of Spielberg's trademarks is his use of music by John Williams to add to the visual impact of his scenes and to try and create a lasting picture and sound of the film in the memories of the film audience. These visual scenes often uses images of the sun (e.g. Empire of the Sun, Saving Private Ryan, the final scene of Jurassic Park, and the end credits of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (where they ride into the sunset), of which the last two feature a Williams score at that end scene. Spielberg is a contemporary of filmmakers George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, John Milius, and Brian De Palma, collectively known as the "Movie Brats". Aside from his principal role as a director, Spielberg has acted as a producer for a considerable number of films, including early hits for Joe Dante and Robert Zemeckis.
Marriages and children
From 1985 to 1989 Spielberg was married to actress Amy Irving. In their 1989 divorce settlement, she received $100 million from Spielberg after a judge controversially vacated a prenuptial agreement written on a napkin. Their divorce was recorded as the third most costly celebrity divorce in history. Following the divorce, Spielberg and Irving shared custody of their son, Max Samuel.
Spielberg subsequently developed a relationship with actress Kate Capshaw, whom he met when he cast her in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They married on October 12, 1991. Capshaw is a convert to Judaism. They currently move among their four homes in Pacific Palisades, California; New York City; Quelle Farm, Georgica Pond in East Hampton, NY; and Naples, Florida.
There are seven children in the Spielberg-Capshaw family:
Jessica Capshaw (born August 9, 1976) – daughter from Kate Capshaw's previous marriage to Robert Capshaw
Max Samuel Spielberg (born June 13, 1985) – son from Spielberg's previous marriage to actress Amy Irving
Theo Spielberg (born 1988) – son adopted by Capshaw before her marriage to Spielberg, who later also adopted him
Sasha Rebecca Spielberg (born May 14, 1990, Los Angeles)
Sawyer Avery Spielberg (born March 10, 1992, Los Angeles)
Mikaela George (born February 28, 1996) – adopted with Kate Capshaw
Destry Allyn Spielberg (born December 1, 1996)
Genealogy (adoptions in Italics)[show]
Forbes magazine places Spielberg's personal net worth at $3.0 billion.
In 2002, Spielberg was one of eight flagbearers who carried the Olympic Flag into Rice-Eccles Stadium at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. In 2006, Premiere listed him as the most powerful and influential figure in the motion picture industry. Time listed him as one of the 100 Most Important People of the Century. At the end of the 20th century, Life named him the most influential person of his generation.
In 1991 Steven Spielberg co-founded Starbright with Randy Aduana—a foundation dedicated to improving sick children's lives through technology-based programs focusing on entertainment and education. In 2002 Starbright merged with the Starlight Foundation forming what is now today the Starlight Children's Foundation.
Spielberg usually supports U.S. Democratic Party candidates. He has donated over $800,000 to the Democratic party and its nominees. He has been a close friend of former President Bill Clinton and worked with the President for the USA Millennium celebrations. He directed an 18-minute film for the project, scored by John Williams and entitled The American Journey. It was shown at America's Millennium Gala on December 31, 1999, in the National Mall at the Reflecting Pool at the base of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen escorts Steven Spielberg through a military honor cordon into the Pentagon.
Spielberg resigned as a member of the national advisory board of the Boy Scouts of America in 2001 because of his disapproval of the organization's anti-homosexuality stance.
Spielberg joined Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban in endorsing the re-election of Hollywood friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican Governor of California, on August 7, 2006.
In 2007 the Arab League voted to boycott Spielberg's movies after he donated $1 million for relief efforts in Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War.
On February 20, 2007, Spielberg, Katzenberg, and David Geffen invited Democrats to a fundraiser for Barack Obama. However, on June 14, 2007, Spielberg endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for President. While Geffen and Katzenberg supported Obama, Spielberg was always a supporter of Hillary Clinton. However Spielberg directed a video for Obama at the DNC in August 2008 and attended Obama's inauguration.
In February 2008, Spielberg pulled out of his role as advisor to the 2008 Summer Olympics in response to the Chinese government's inaction over the War in Darfur. Spielberg said in a statement that "I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual." It also said that "Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes, but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more.." The International Olympic Committee respected Spielberg's decision, but IOC president Jacques Rogge admitted in an interview that "[Spielberg] certainly would have brought a lot to the opening ceremony in terms of creativity." Spielberg's statement drew criticism from Chinese officials and state-run media calling his criticism "unfair".
In September 2008, Spielberg and his wife offered their support to same-sex marriage, by issuing a statement following their donation of $100,000 to the "No on Proposition 8" campaign fund, a figure equal to the amount of money Brad Pitt donated to the same campaign less than a week prior.
One of the three balsa sleds used in Citizen Kane, purchased at auction in 1982 by Steven Spielberg
In June 1982 Steven Spielberg spent $60,500 to buy a Rosebud sled from the 1941 film Citizen Kane — one of three balsa sleds used in the closing scenes and the only one that was not burned. Spielberg had paid homage to the Orson Welles classic in the final shot of the government warehouse in his 1981 film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. "When you look at Rosebud, you don't think of fast dollars, fast sequels and remakes," Spielberg said. "This to me says that movies of my generation had better be good." In 1994 Spielberg also purchased an original script for Welles's 1938 radio broadcast The War of the Worlds — Welles's own directorial copy and one of only two radioscripts known to survive. Spielberg adapted The War of the Worlds for a feature film in 2005.
Spielberg is an avid film buff, and, when not shooting a picture, he will indulge in "movie orgies" (watching many over a single weekend). He sees almost every major summer blockbuster in theaters if not preoccupied and enjoys most of them; "If I get pleasure from anything, I can't think of it as dumb or myself as shallow [...] I'll probably go late to that movie and go, 'What the dickens was everybody complaining about, that wasn't so bad!'".
Since playing Pong while filming Jaws in 1974, Spielberg has been an avid video gamer. He owns a Wii, a PlayStation 3, a PSP, and Xbox 360, and enjoys playing first-person shooters such as the Medal of Honor series and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. He has also criticized the use of cut scenes in games, calling them intrusive, and feels making story flow naturally into the gameplay is a challenge for future game developers.
In 2001, Spielberg was stalked by conspiracy theorist and former social worker Diana Napolis. She accused him, along with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, of controlling her thoughts through "cybertronic" technology and being part of a satanic conspiracy against her. Napolis was committed for life in a mental institution before pleading guilty to stalking and released on probation with a condition that she have no contact with either Spielberg or Hewitt.
Spielberg was a target of the 2002 white supremacist terror plot.
Jonathan Norman was arrested after making two attempts to enter Spielberg's Pacific Palisades home in June and July 1997. Norman was jailed for 25 years in California. Spielberg told the court: "Had Jonathan Norman actually confronted me, I genuinely, in my heart of hearts, believe that I would have been raped or maimed or killed."
Spielberg with a public service award presented by United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen, 1999.
Steven Spielberg's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Footprints and handprints of Steven Spielberg in front of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Former President Clinton with Spielberg as he accepts the 2009 Liberty Award
Spielberg has won three Academy Awards. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards for the category of Best Director, winning two of them (Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan), and seven of the films he directed were up for the Best Picture Oscar (Schindler's List won). In 1987 he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his work as a creative producer.
Drawing from his own experiences in Scouting, Spielberg helped the Boy Scouts of America develop a merit badge in cinematography. The badge was launched at the 1989 National Scout Jamboree, which Spielberg attended, and where he personally counseled many boys in their work on requirements.
That same year, 1989, saw the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The opening scene shows a teenage Indiana Jones in scout uniform bearing the rank of a Life Scout. Spielberg stated he made Indiana Jones a Boy Scout in honor of his experience in Scouting. For his career accomplishments and service to others, Spielberg was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.
Steven Spielberg received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1995.
In 1998 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit with Ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Award was presented to him by President Roman Herzog in recognition of his film Schindler's List and his Shoa-Foundation.
In 1999, Spielberg received an honorary degree from Brown University. Spielberg was also awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service by Secretary of Defense William Cohen at the Pentagon on August 11, 1999; Cohen presented the award in recognition of Spielberg's film Saving Private Ryan.
In 2001, he was honored as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
In 2004 he was admitted as knight of the Légion d'honneur by president Jacques Chirac. On July 15, 2006, Spielberg was also awarded the Gold Hugo Lifetime Achievement Award at the Summer Gala of the Chicago International Film Festival, and also was awarded a Kennedy Center honour on December 3. The tribute to Spielberg featured a short, filmed biography narrated by Tom Hanks and included thank-yous from World War II veterans for Saving Private Ryan, as well as a performance of the finale to Leonard Bernstein's Candide, conducted by John Williams (Spielberg's frequent composer).
In November 2007, he was chosen for a Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented at the sixth annual Visual Effects Society Awards in February 2009. He was set to be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the January 2008 Golden Globes; however, the new, watered-down format of the ceremony resulting from conflicts in the 2007–08 writers strike, the HFPA postponed his honor to the 2009 ceremony. In 2008, Spielberg was awarded the Légion d'honneur.
In June 2008, Spielberg received Arizona State University's Hugh Downs Award for Communication Excellence.
Spielberg received an honorary degree at Boston University's 136th Annual Commencement on May 17, 2009. In October 2009 Steven Spielberg received the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; presenting him with the medal was former US president and Liberty Medal recipient Bill Clinton. Special guests included Whoopi Goldberg, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
On the 22th of October 2011 he was admitted as a Commander of the Belgian Order of the Crown. He was given the badge on a red neck ribbon by the Belgian Federal Minister of Finance Didier Reynders. The Commander is the third highest rank of the Order of the Crown.
U.S. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, with the Kennedy Center honorees in the Blue Room of the White House during a 2006 reception. From left: singer/songwriter William "Smokey" Robinson; composer Andrew Lloyd Webber; singer Dolly Parton; Steven Spielberg; and conductor Zubin Mehta.
Steven Spielberg with Chandran Rutnam, in the Gala Dinner held on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, honoring Steven Spielberg.
Praise and criticism
In 2005, Steven Spielberg was rated the greatest film director of all time by Empire Magazine.
After watching the unconventional, off-center camera techniques of Jaws, Alfred Hitchcock praised "young Spielberg," saying "He's the first one of us who doesn't see the proscenium arch." Or, to paraphrase, he was the first mainstream director to think outside the visual dynamics of the theater, although that didn't stop Hitchcock from removing Spielberg from the set of Family Plot, his last film.
Some of Spielberg's most famous fans include film legends Robert Aldrich, Ingmar Bergman, Werner Herzog, Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, Sidney Lumet, Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, Francois Truffaut, David Lynch and Zhang Yimou.
Subsequently, Spielberg's movies have also influenced many directors that followed, including Adam Green, J.J Abrams, Paul Thomas Anderson, Neill Blomkamp, James Cameron, Guillermo del Toro, Roland Emmerich, David Fincher, Peter Jackson, Kal Ng, Robert Rodriguez, John Sayles, Ridley Scott, John Singleton, Kevin Smith, Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino.
British film critic Tom Shone has said of Spielberg, "If you have to point to any one director of the last twenty-five years in whose work the medium of film was most fully itself – where we found out what it does best when left to its own devices, it has to be that guy." Jess Cagle, the managing editor of Entertainment Weekly, called Spielberg "...arguably (well, who would argue?) the greatest filmmaker in history."
However, Spielberg is not without his critics—many of whom complain that his films are overly sentimental and tritely moralistic. In his book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex 'n' Drugs 'n' Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, Peter Biskind summarized the views of Spielberg's detractors, accusing the director of "infantilizing the audience, reconstituting the spectator as child, then overwhelming him and her with sound and spectacle, obliterating irony, aesthetic self-consciousness, and critical reflection."
Critics of mainstream film such as Ray Carney and American artist and actor Crispin Glover (who starred in the Spielberg-produced Back to the Future and also sued Spielberg for using Glover's likeness in Back to the Future Part II) claim that Spielberg's films lack depth and do not take risks.
French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard stated that he holds Spielberg partly responsible for the lack of artistic merit in mainstream cinema and accused Spielberg of using his film Schindler's List to make a profit of tragedy while Schindler's wife, Emilie Schindler, lived in poverty in Argentina. In defense of Spielberg, critic Roger Ebert said "Has Godard or any other director living or dead done more than Spielberg, with his Holocaust Project, to honor and preserve the memories of the survivors?" Author Thomas Keneally has also disputed claims that Emilie Schindler was never paid for her contributions to the film, "not least because I had recently sent Emilie a check myself."
The late film critic, Pauline Kael, who had championed Spielberg's films in the 1970s, expressed disappointment in his later development, stating that "he's become, I think, a very bad director.... And I'm a little ashamed for him, because I loved his early work.... [H]e turned to virtuous movies. And he's become so uninteresting now.... I think that he had it in him to become more of a fluid, far-out director. But, instead, he's become a melodramatist."
Imre Kertész, Hungarian Jewish author, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, criticized Spielberg's depiction of the Holocaust in Schindler's List as kitsch, saying "I regard as kitsch any representation of the Holocaust that is incapable of understanding or unwilling to understand the organic connection between our own deformed mode of life and the very possibility of the Holocaust." Veteran documentary filmmaker and professor Claude Lanzmann also labeled Schindler's List "pernicious in its impact and influence" and "very sentimental".
Stephen Rowley wrote an extensive essay about Spielberg and his career in Senses of Cinema. In it he discussed Spielberg's strengths as a film maker, saying "there is a welcome complexity of tone and approach in these later films that defies the lazy stereotypes often bandied about his films" and that "Spielberg continues to take risks, with his body of work continuing to grow more impressive and ambitious", concluding that he has only received "limited, begrudging recognition" from critics.
In 1999, Spielberg, then a co-owner of DreamWorks, was involved in a heated debate in which the studio proposed building on wetlands near Los Angeles, California, though development was later dropped for economic reasons.
In August 2007, Ai Weiwei, artistic designer for the Beijing Olympic Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest", accused those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony, including Spielberg, of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists. Ai said, "It's disgusting. I don't like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment.