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Chris Columbus

Chris Columbus

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Also Known As: Christopher Columbus Died:
Born: September 10, 1958 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Spangler, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, producer, aluminum factory worker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the more successful filmmakers to come from the Spielberg school of genre moviemaking, writer-director Chris Columbus emerged as a specialist in combining a sensitivity for young people's feelings with a rousing adventure yarn. Columbus entered Hollywood by way of screenwriting with his script for "Gremlins" (1984) being shepherded by Spielberg, who soon became a mentor to the young scribe. After writing the scripts for "The Goonies" (1985) and "Young Sherlock Holmes" (1985), he made his directing debut with the mild family comedy "Adventures in Babysitting" (1987). Columbus entered the realm of blockbuster filmmaker with "Home Alone" (1990), arguably one of the most successful film comedies of all time. Following the sequel "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" (1992), he had another hit with the Robin Williams vehicle "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993), which placed Columbus at the top of Hollywood's list of commercial hitmakers. Despite his overwhelming commercial success, Columbus struggled to earn the respect of critics, many of whom complained that he tended to overly sentimentalize his work by finding simple happy solutions to complicated problems. He typified such criticisms with "Bicentennial Man"...

One of the more successful filmmakers to come from the Spielberg school of genre moviemaking, writer-director Chris Columbus emerged as a specialist in combining a sensitivity for young people's feelings with a rousing adventure yarn. Columbus entered Hollywood by way of screenwriting with his script for "Gremlins" (1984) being shepherded by Spielberg, who soon became a mentor to the young scribe. After writing the scripts for "The Goonies" (1985) and "Young Sherlock Holmes" (1985), he made his directing debut with the mild family comedy "Adventures in Babysitting" (1987). Columbus entered the realm of blockbuster filmmaker with "Home Alone" (1990), arguably one of the most successful film comedies of all time. Following the sequel "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" (1992), he had another hit with the Robin Williams vehicle "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993), which placed Columbus at the top of Hollywood's list of commercial hitmakers. Despite his overwhelming commercial success, Columbus struggled to earn the respect of critics, many of whom complained that he tended to overly sentimentalize his work by finding simple happy solutions to complicated problems. He typified such criticisms with "Bicentennial Man" (1999), which descended into cheap sentiment after a promising start. Columbus next tackled the incredibly difficult task of bring "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001) to life on the big screen. Faithfully adapting that novel and the sequel "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002), Columbus helped launch what became one of the most commercially successful franchises in cinema history. Though he faded to the background with "Rent" (2005) and "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (2010), Columbus remained one of Hollywood's most bankable commercial directors.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Warren, Ohio
1973:
Inspired to become a filmmaker after seeing "The Godfather"
:
Began making short super-8 films in high school
:
Sold first screenplay "Jocks" for $5,000 while at NYU; never produced
:
Sold screenplay for "Gremlins" to producer Steven Spielberg (produced in 1984)
1984:
First produced screenplay, "Reckless"
1985:
Last collaboration with producer Spielberg, the screenplay for "Young Sherlock Holmes"; directed by Barry Levinson
1986:
Created and wrote the first episodes of the animated series "Galaxy High School" (CBS)
:
Fired as the screenwriter of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" by Spielberg and George Lucas
1987:
Formed production company, 1492 Productions
1987:
Feature directorial debut, "Adventures in Babysitting"
1988:
Wrote and directed the fictional film "Heartbreak Hotel"
1990:
Directed first successful film "Home Alone"; scripted and produced by John Hughes
1991:
Wrote and directed "Only the Lonely"; also produced by Hughes
1992:
Helmed sequel, "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York"; scripted and produced by Hughes
1993:
Directed the comedy hit "Mrs. Doubtfire," starring Robin Williams and Sally Field
1995:
Re-teamed with Robin Williams for the comedy film "Nine Months"
1996:
Produced "Jingle All the Way," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
1998:
Directed the drama "Stepmom," starring Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris
1999:
Re-teamed with Robin Williams as producer and director of "Bicentennial Man"
2001:
Directed the film version of popular children's book "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
2002:
Helmed the second installment in the series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
2004:
Wrote and produced "Christmas with the Kranks," starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis
2005:
Directed the film version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical, "Rent"
2006:
Produced "Night at the Museum," starring Ben Stiller
2009:
Produced the sequel, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian"
2009:
Directed and produced the comedy film "I Love You, Beth Cooper"
2010:
Directed the film adaptation of "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," the first novel in the series by Rick Riordan
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

New York University: New York , New York - 1980

Notes

When Chris Columbus met with Warner Bros. executives in order to "audition" for the the assignment of directing the Harry Potter movies, he brought along his annotated copy of Steve Kloves' screenplay. As Columbus told the Daily News (November 11, 2001): "I essentially put stuff back from the book and restructured [the script] to show them how I would make the movie, and I made the descriptions much more flowery so they would know what I was trying to do. I said, 'I'm actually so passionate about this that I've rewritten it to show you what I would do for free. I don't think anyone else in Hollywood would do that.'"

"There are a couple of things I WON'T do--you won't find me making a '9 1/2 Weeks', he says, smiling at the very idea. "I would start laughing if I was doing it. Movies like 'Basic Instinct'--I can understand the validity of showing people the ugliness of the world, but I also think there is a place for movies to leave people with a sense of hope for life. If your film isn't going to do that, then I just don't think it's worth making." --Chris Columbus, quoted in "Columbus' New Adventure" by Blaise Simpson, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1993.

As Spielberg's protege, Columbus had an office just down the hall from his mentor. He was welcome to interrupt whenever he pleased to discuss characters and to go over his pages. Their collaboration ended when Columbus was fired as the screenwriter of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989).

"The mistake I made was that Steven asked me to do 'Indiana Jones' and I was scheduled to go into meetings with Steven and George Lucas. Just the three of us in a room. Now if you want to talk about intimidating ... So I went into this room for about eight days in New York and I just took notes on every aspect of the story." Columbus was so awed at working with the two screen legends that he transcribed the notes almost word for word, adding nothing of himself--which resulted in what he calls a "very flat screenplay."

"They tossed me off the project, but I understood," he continues. "I learned a very valuable lesson, which is that if you're going to do something, you always have to do it from your own inspiration, even if you're rewriting someone else's work." He has remained close to Spielberg and says, "I still make my films hoping to please Steven." --quoted in "Columbus' New Adventure" by Blaise Simpson, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1993.

Actor Richard Harris on Columbus' technique on the set of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone": "Chris quite rightly concentrated on the kids. He said, 'You guys are pros, you can do it.' He was like the Pied Piper with them. They absolutely worshipped him. He never once lost his cool." --quoted in Daily News, November 11, 2001.

Columbus states that his father gave him Christopher as a first name because, "He thought people would remember it. He had a good sense of humor."

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Monica Devereux. Choreographer. Met at a Halloween party in 1980; Columbus proposed by their third date; married in 1983 in Chicago.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Irene Columbus. Died of cancer c. 1997.

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