Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Spielberg right-hand Frank Marshall on his best year yet

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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Frank Marshall PHOTO: AFP/getty image

Veteran producer Frank Marshall says 2016 is shaping up to be his biggest year — quite a claim for the man who, alongside Steven Spielberg, gave the world “Indiana Jones” and “Back to the Future.”

The five-time Oscar nominee defined the blockbuster for a generation of cinemagoers alongside the legendary director and their artistic partner Kathleen Kennedy — whom Marshall went on to marry.

As the founders of Amblin Entertainment, the trio reigned supreme from 1982’s “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial” through a string of milestones including “Gremlins,” “The Goonies” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

He’d be forgiven for resting on his laurels at age 70, but Marshall revealed he is busier than ever as AFP caught up with him to discuss the release of “Jason Bourne” on DVD and Blu-ray.

“We’re just finishing ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and we’re talking about how we’re going to sell the movie and the publicity campaign,” he responded when asked about his schedule for the day.

“And we’re working on ‘Sully’ for the awards season so I’m pretty busy. The other thing: ‘Jurassic World II’ is in pre-production so I work on that early in the morning because they are in London.”

Add Spielberg’s “The BFG” to all that work and it’s been a packed year for the father of two.

Film finance website Box Office Mojo attributes worldwide ticket receipts of just under $10 billion for Marshall’s body of work, which includes directing stints, most notably on “Arachnophobia” and “Congo.”

– Sportsman –
“When I direct, it’s a 24/7 focus and I have a couple of projects that I’m considering directing, but I love producing,” he tells AFP.

“This is really my biggest year with four movies out so that’s been exciting and very satisfying.”

Born in Los Angeles, Marshall excelled in both music and sport, running track and cross-country for UCLA before entering his film career as an assistant to director Peter Bogdanovich.

His 1980s output alongside Spielberg and Kennedy include critical hits such as “The Color Purple,” “Empire of the Sun” and “Always,” which featured a cameo by Audrey Hepburn in her last role.

In 1991, Kennedy and Marshall branched out to form the prosaically-titled Kennedy/Marshall Company, producing 35 movies including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense” and the “Bourne” franchise.

Among the extras for “Jason Bourne,” released on DVD and Blu-ray next week, is a behind-the-scenes featurette about filming a car chase on the Las Vegas Strip that Marshall describes as among his most challenging.

“For 12 nights in a row we had two crews working 24 hours a day,” he told AFP.

“It actually took four hours just to close down the Strip before we could even shoot. It was quite a large undertaking.”

Marshall became sole head of the couple’s company when Kennedy was made chairwoman of Lucasfilm in 2012, taking on responsibility for the “Star Wars” sequels and spin-offs.

– ‘Comfortable’ –
The couple — who have 13 Oscar nominations between them and yet no statuettes — live in a $10 million beachfront pad in Malibu, in what Marshall describes as a “very comfortable home life.”

His next big project — perhaps his biggest ever — will be “Jurassic World II,” which begins shooting in London in February.

Co-written by Colin Trevorrow — who helmed “Jurassic World” and is slated to direct 2019’s “Star Wars IX” — the film carries a weight of expectation after its predecessor made an astonishing $1.7 billion.

The internet has been abuzz with rumors of a darker episode than previous movies in the “Jurassic” stable, featuring weaponized dinosaurs.

“Nothing to report,” was Marshall’s judicious response to questions about the direction of the new movie, although he revealed a “Jurassic World III” was already “at the ideas stage.”

Marshall will also be producing as Harrison Ford picks up the famous fedora and bullwhip for “Indiana Jones V” in 2019.

Whatever the filmmaker goes on to do after that, he intends to remain faithful to his formula for blockbuster success.

“It sounds really simple but you have to have a good story, one that people want to continue to see… Certainly that’s the case with both Indiana Jones and Jason Bourne,” he says.

“They love these characters and they want to see what they are going to do next. For me that’s the key — the story.”

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