As kids in the 1980s, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Will Cooper (Kevin James), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), and Eddie “The Fire Blaster” Plant (Peter Dinklage) saved the world thousands of times – at 25 cents a game in the video arcades. Now, they’re going to have to do it for real. In Pixels, when intergalactic aliens discover video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth, using the video games as the models for their assaults — and now-U.S. President Cooper must call on his old-school arcade friends to save the world from being destroyed by PAC-MAN™, Donkey Kong™, Galaga™, Centipede®, and Space Invaders™. Joining them is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), a specialist supplying the arcaders with unique weapons to fight the aliens.
Columbia Pictures presents in association with LStar Capital and China Film Co., Ltd., a Happy Madison / 1492 Pictures production in association with Film Croppers Entertainment, Pixels. Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, and Brian Cox. Directed by Chris Columbus. Produced by Adam Sandler, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe, and Allen Covert. Screenplay by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling. Screen Story by Tim Herlihy. Based on the short film by Patrick Jean. Executive producers are Barry Bernardi, Michael Barnathan, Jack Giarraputo, Steve Koren, Heather Parry, Patrick Jean, Benjamin Darras, Johnny Alves, Matias Boucard, Seth Gordon, and Ben Waisbren. Director of Photography is Amir Mokri. Production Designer is Peter Wenham. Edited by Hughes Winborne, ACE. Costume Designer is Christine Wada. Music by Henry Jackman.
Pixels has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for Some Language and Suggestive Comments. The film will be released in theaters nationwide on July 24, 2015.
IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG
Pixels is the summer tentpole action comedy in which aliens attack the Earth, using 1980s videogames as the model for their attacks, produced by Happy Madison and 1492 Pictures. Taking the helm of Pixels, Chris Columbus helped define 1980s movies as the writer of Gremlins and The Goonies, then went on to direct beloved, classic comedies like Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, and help launch epic, special-effects blockbuster franchises like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Night at the Museum, Columbus says that Pixels appealed to him in myriad ways.
“Reading the Pixels script felt so original, so unique, that I just had to do it,” he says. “I loved the blend of comedy mixed with action, which gave me an opportunity to do something I hadn’t been able to do since Harry Potter. It enabled me to push the comedy as far as we could, but also create this very intense action adventure film. For me, it’s Gremlins meets Goonies meets Harry Potter – it gave me the opportunity to create something really fresh using the tools I had gathered over the years. It would be an original summer movie that took you back to the 80s in an evocative, nostalgic way.
The project stars Adam Sandler, who also serves as a producer of the film. Columbus says that being able to serve both roles benefits the project. “Adam has a great sense of comedy and is a very savvy producer,” says Columbus. “That’s a great combination, because – for example – he completely understands when something’s working and we can move on, or when something’s not working and needs a little more time to get it right.”
The list of the film’s pixelated co-stars reads like an all-star team of the 1980s: PAC-MAN™, Donkey Kong™, Centipede®, Galaga™, Frogger, Qbert™, and Space Invaders™, among many others. “These classic characters were part of the DNA of the project, so it was critical that we work together to bring them on board,” explains Allen Covert, one of the film’s producers. “Fortunately, they were all extremely receptive. We approached them with a deep love for their characters and a respect for the elements that make them unique and iconic, and we worked with the companies to incorporate those elements into the film.” Partners included Atari Interactive, Inc. (Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Missile Command); Konami Digital Entertainment (Frogger); Bandai Namco Entertainment (PAC-MAN, Galaga, Dig Dug); Nintendo (Donkey Kong, Duck Hunt); Sony Computer Entertainment (QBert); TAITO CORPORATION (Arkanoid, Space Invaders); and Warner Bros. Interactive (Paperboy, Joust, Defender, Robotron), G-MODE (BurgerTime), and TETRIS (Tetris).
Columbus adds, “There would be no way to make the movie without these legendary characters – they are as important to the film as the roles that the actors are playing. It was a real thrill to see everything come together exactly as we envisioned it.”
Executive Producer Michael Barnathan, who also serves as president of Columbus’ company, 1492 Pictures, adds that the filmmaking team also found 1980s inspiration in other ways. “I think everyone involved with this movie has a great love for the great summer action-comedies of the 1980s,” he says. “We definitely wanted a movie for today’s audiences, but our goal was also to capture something of the feel that made those movies so special – that mix of action and comedy that the movies of that era did so well.”
Columbus says that one other reason he felt attracted to the project was the chance to make a film that would truly appeal to audiences of all ages. “Of course, the parents out there are going to remember playing these games at a video arcade, and their kids will be just as amazed by the characters – there are a hundred jokes in the movie that work for parents, and a hundred that work for their kids,” he says. “But it’s more than that. I think there’s a lot of nostalgia for these games and about the 80s in particular. I certainly hear it all the time – I talk to college kids and their favorite movie is The Goonies. There’s a lot of love for that era right now.”
ABOUT THE CAST
To capture the comedy, the Happy Madison and 1492 filmmakers brought in an all-star cast of comedic film talent. Adam Sandler, who also produces the film, as well as Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, and Josh Gad make up the team of unlikely heroes who are called upon to save the world.
“The five of them together are just so wonderful,” says Columbus. “There’s a natural camaraderie and real charisma between the five of them. They truly create a team.”
Adam Sandler leads the way as Sam Brenner – once a video game world champion, and now a home theater installer. “Things haven’t quite gone his way over the past 30 years,” says Barnathan. “He’s gotten stuck in life. To be honest, it’s starting to seem like there’s only one thing he’s ever been really good at – playing videogames. Fortunately for us all, that one thing is about to come in really handy.”
Kevin James – who has starred opposite Sandler in several films – is called on to play Sandler’s best friend and the President of the United States of America.
“With Kevin, we were not only playing against type, we were playing against the comedy,” says Columbus. “Kevin had to have a really strong presence – he had to feel presidential. And he played that role beautifully – when he completed the first scene as President Cooper, I completely believed him. He’s a wonderful actor, and capable of going much deeper than he has in the past.”
In the film, James’ character, Will Cooper, has reached a political low. Everybody thinks all politicians are buffoonish oafs, but the American people really convinced of it with Cooper. “The general public is not a huge fan of my character,” James explains. “He’s not doing a lot of what he said he’d do, and he basically doesn’t care. When he sees that the world is being attacked and it looks like videogames, he brings in his friends – who happen to be the greatest videogame players ever.”
You might think it would be difficult for James to act opposite a CG character, but the comedian got a lot of practice. “I replaced my family at home with tennis balls to get used to it,” he says. “They moved out of the house for a month and I replaced them with tennis balls everywhere – one was a Slazenger, one was a Wilson, and one was a Penn. As a parent, you’re always yelling at your kids about something – to eat or wipe or clean up – so I’d just yell at the tennis balls. I got pretty good at it and accustomed to it really quick.”
As President Cooper calls on Sam Brenner to put together an expert team of Arcaders to help fight the aliens, Brenner tracks down the now-grown men who were the champions as kids.
Josh Gad joins the cast as Ludlow Lamonsoff, the youngest member of the Arcaders. “He’s a little younger than the other guys – he was kind of the Wonder Kid,” says Gad.
Once the child prodigy amongst the gamers, he’s now a conspiracy theorist who never quite got over his childhood crush on Lady Lisa, the cartoonish lead character in Dojo Quest, his favorite game from back in the day.
“Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling wrote a character that was really eccentric – and I’m no stranger to eccentric characters,” says the star of Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” and the voice of Olaf the snowman in Frozen. “This was a chance to sink my teeth into a guy who’s strangely off. But there’s also something wonderfully vulnerable about him. He’s chasing the love of his life, which is a videogame character – it makes him sound insane, but he believes in a world where he can co-exist with Lady Lisa and run away with her.”
Gad was excited to join the project not only because of the chance to work with Columbus and Sandler, but also because of the chance to play out the iconic games from his childhood on an epic scale. “I was born in ’81, right at the height of arcade fever,” he says. “I had two older brothers, so I remember going to the local arcade in South Florida – it was called Grand Prix – and we would just play nonstop on a Saturday or Sunday. To get the chance to chase these creatures that I remember playing against as a kid was like being a child all over again.”
In real life, Gad’s own favorite game wasn’t Dojo Quest. “I was always addicted to Galaga,” Gad continues. “It was one of those games that I was never quite great at, but for some reason, I loved it.”
Peter Dinklage rounds out the Arcaders as Eddie Plant, a/k/a The Fire Blaster. Though he has risen to fame with his dramatic role in “Game of Thrones,” Dinklage is equally adept at comedy, as he’s shown over the years from roles in Living in Oblivion to Death at a Funeral.
“Eddie was the other guys’ childhood nemesis,” says Dinklage. “He has quite a large ego, in terms of his championships, and he loves to remind everyone else how good he is. That’s the way he’s portrayed as a child – and when we jump to the present day, his attitude hasn’t changed all that much.”
Eddie Plant has a distinctive look in the movie, with his mullet and the arms ripped off of his uniform. “He’s definitely mentally and visually stuck in a certain time,” he says. “I’ve seen guys like that – they don’t realize that certain looks have gone out of style, but God bless ’em, they’re happy. Eddie has a giant mullet, he’s got tattoos – not the beautiful tattoos that are hip these days – and he has a habit of taking the sleeves off of everything he wears. I guess he’s insecure about the back of his neck, but not about his guns.”
Like his co-stars, Dinklage would habit the arcades of his childhood back in the day. “I feel sorry for the kids nowadays, playing on the consoles, because going to the arcade was so social,” he says. “You go to the arcade, hang out with your friends, check out the girls – or the one girl who might have been there that day. They played music. It was like being at the rollerskating rink, and it was so much more fun.”
The Arcaders would be nowhere without the help of Lt. Colonel Violet Van Patten, played by Michelle Monaghan. “She’s a very tough character – very brainy, very sassy,” says Monaghan.
“I’d definitely say she has a love-hate relationship with Brenner,” says Monaghan. “He’s the complete opposite of Violet – she finds him pretty repulsive. It’s only in attempting to save the world that he wins her over and convinces her that he’s more than meets the eye.”
Monaghan may have been the only female in a lead role, but she relished it. “Are you kidding me? I loved being the only female,” she says. “The guys are very inclusive, very sweet. Yeah, there was a lot of ribbing, but I’m really good at dishing it as well.”
Ashley Benson takes on the role of Lady Lisa, the film’s 1980s videogame icon, star of the fictional game Dojo Quest, and the object of Ludlow’s unrequited love. “I get to play a videogame hero – I have two swords and I get to be a badass,” Benson explains. “I’d never worked with swords before, so that was cool. Plus, punching and kicking and beating up Josh is always fun.”
“We wanted Ludlow (played by Josh Gad) to be in love with a female video game character from his childhood. We thought it was really sweet, but also showed that he’s a little pathetic,” says Covert “There weren’t a lot of game characters that fit that description so we came up with Dojo Quest and Lady Lisa. The best part was that we actually got to make it into a real game that you can play on your phone.”
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
After developing the project at Happy Madison, they began to seek a director who could shepherd it to the screen. “We thought Chris would be the perfect director for this movie,” says Covert. “He’s directed giant effects movies and some of our favorite comedies and Pixels was a combination of those two elements. He is so great at blending stunning visuals with outrageously funny actors and making it believable. ”
Executive producer Michael Barnathan agrees, adding another element: “Ultimately, movies are about story. One of Chris’s greatest talents as a director is making sure that these other elements – the comedy, the effects – are all working to move the story forward in a satisfying and emotional way. We all thought Pixels represented an opportunity to be a perfect match between the material and everything Chris does well as a director.”
ATTACK OF THE VIDEOGAMES: DESIGN AND EFFECTS
Not only does the unique plot and hilarious comedy of Pixels distinguish it from the crowd, but the film also looks different from other summer films. “Most visual effects movies – including movies I’ve been involved with – set out to create extraordinarily realistic visual effects. Even if you’re creating a dragon or a monster, you try to give it the texture and skin of a real creature,” Columbus explains. “On Pixels, we were aiming for something you’ve never seen before. When these videogame characters come to life, they take on this pixelated form with an aura lit from within, and constantly moving. It’s literally a three-dimensional version of the 8-bit games you used to see on your arcade screen.”
Production Designer Peter Wenham, who was responsible for the overall look of the film, was the initial player in orchestrating the ways that the look of the iconic videogame characters would transition from their classic 8-bit forms to fully realized 3D threats. “It was important to the different gaming companies – and to us as well – to stay as truthful as we possibly could, even as we made the characters 3D,” he says. “The fun comes in showing something we haven’t seen before – all of the everyday objects getting pixelated. We had to determine how that would work, what it would look like – when a Space Invaders bomb hits the asphalt, it blows a hole, but it also pixelates so that the asphalt turns into pixels. We had to determine how that would look.”
There was always a danger, Wenham says, of the 3D versions of the 8-bit characters looking too blocky or uninteresting. That’s when they hit on the idea of the characters containing a light aura – an idea that could be replicated as they pixelate the everyday objects on Earth. Not only would the characters themselves be flowing with interactive light, but so would the pixelated versions of the attack targets. The result was a visually compelling solution that also expressed the way that the aliens use videogames to attack the planet.
Once the characters had been designed, Columbus tapped Matthew Butler, the visual effects supervisor, to bring the classic 1980s videogames into our world. “Matt Butler is the mad genius who kept constantly pushing the envelope to make certain that these creatures not only feel like they exist in our world, but that the audience is seeing something they’ve never seen before. He pushed his team and all of us harder than ever,” says Columbus.
Butler explains that just as the filmmakers made extraordinary efforts to be honest with the look of the characters, it was equally necessary to make callbacks to the way those characters moved and interacted. “It was very important that we emulated these games as closely as possible,” says Butler. “If you look at PAC-MAN, he chomps at a certain rate and moves at a certain speed. Donkey Kong, too, has very specific motions, like his semi-step – we animated that in a continuous flow, but maintained the ‘sprite-based’ essence.”
Of course, the filmmakers did take some liberties with the real history. For example, the fictitious history of the Galaga game in the film – in which a “‘glitch” in the game is a key plot point – is a purely fictional element which was created for dramatic purpose.
If you want to get technical about it, Butler says, the title of the film isn’t quite right. “A 3D pixel is really called a ‘voxel,’” a cube in three-dimensional space, he says. “We took this notion of simplistic cubes and made it interesting and up-to-date by adding light energy to it, for example with PAC-MAN,” explains Butler. “As a round shape, his 2D image is flat, so we gave him the volume of a 3D sphere made up of voxels. Each voxel has its own light energy, based on geometric alien filaments, that can be controlled individually, so we used artistic license to fly energy around within PAC-MAN’s sphere.”
In the first major game set piece in the film, the Arcaders take on Centipede. “The Centipede sequence in Hyde Park is psychedelic, frightening and hilarious at the same time,” says Columbus.
Butler says that the Centipede sequence shows the ways they tackled the greatest challenge in the visual effects: to get the tone right. There was a major effort to infuse some of the comedy of the film into the threat of the videogame characters. “These arcade characters are villains, so they had to be scary, but this is also a comedy so it had to be light,” says Butler. “For example, with Centipede, our first instinct was to make it a fear-inspiring creature, but under Chris’ direction, we made him more comical – like the scene where he is dancing behind an old lady as she watches TV. Then, through his actions, we understand how threatening he really is. Centipede interacts with the sheer mass of his body, causing chaos everywhere he goes. You don’t actually pixelate until he eats you.”
In the PAC-MAN set piece, the heroes are in multicolored Mini Cooper cars – “ghosts” – chasing a 30-foot-tall PAC-MAN as he chomps his way through the grid maze of Manhattan. “In the real game, PAC-MAN is the good guy and the ghosts are the enemy, but in the movie, you’ve got PAC-MAN flying around Manhattan and the only way for the Arcaders to beat him is with ghosts,” says Columbus. “We wrote in Mini Coopers as our ghosts, and they suited us so well in terms of size, speed and color. Mini Cooper was very generous with us because of all the modifications we had to make to equip them with weapons and a sense of light energy, but they really fit the part well.”
“Through the visual effects, we included cool things from the original arcade game, like PAC-MAN eating a power pellet, but then chose to deviate from the game and add exciting things like PAC-MAN chomping a firetruck, which pixelates,” says Butler. “At one point, a Mini Cooper is driving on its front two wheels, which is partly visual effects and partly a real Mini, with a cut-out rear, designed to break in real life.”
To defeat the threat, the Arcaders enlist the help of the creator of PAC-MAN, Professor Iwatani. Though the role of Professor Iwatani is played in the scene by actor Denis Akiyama, the real Professor Iwatani makes a cameo appearance as a video game repairman at 1982 arcade. “The interesting thing is,” says Columbus, “before the real Professor Iwatani invented PAC-MAN, he really used to repair video games.”
At the film’s climactic battle against the aliens, the arcaders take on Donkey Kong. “We built gigantic girders – basically replicating the entire look of the Donkey Kong video game,” says Columbus. “We had our heroes on life-sized platforms, literally having to play Donkey Kong.”
“It was a colossal set that we built on the Mega Stage at Pinewood Toronto Studios, which is the largest purpose-built sound stage in North America,” Wenham explains. In the end, Wenham’s set was a 70-foot-tall construction of girders and beams – in effect, recreating the Donkey Kong game in real life.
“I knew Donkey Kong well as a kid – it was one of my favorites to play – so that set was really awesome for me,” says Butler. “The combination of practical special effects and the CG visual effects ended up making a really, really fun battle sequence. That sequence has roughly 130 VFX shots. We were heavily dependent on sound effects, too, to capture the authentic tone of the games being played.”
“It was very challenging to film that scene,” says Michelle Monaghan. “They built a huge green screen set, where Donkey Kong was just a big X in the corner of the stage. We had to wear harnesses attached to pulleys and run and jump off platforms and get pushed and pulled in every direction. Chris would then shout direction to us – ‘jump!’ – and there was no barrel, but we were jumping anyway. You feel a bit silly, but it works in the end.”
Bringing Qbert to life represented another kind of challenge. “Like the other characters, he’s made up of sharp-edged cubes, but he had to be cute,” says Butler. “Sony Picture Imageworks came up with a great translucent solution that gives him almost a furry look, like you could cuddle him while still keeping him pixelated. He doesn’t have hands or a mouth, so it was a challenge to use just his eyes and body posture to bring Qbert’s character to life.”
In addition to designing the look of the characters, Peter Wenham was responsible for sets and locations – all aspects of the look of the film. “The movie is very much about a heightened reality – that comes out of the arcade games – so we tried to imbue this film with some real reality,” he says.
One highlight for Wenham was creating the light cannons that the Arcaders use to fight the alien videogame threats. “It’s always great to see a connection between the props and the actors. When Sandler picked it up, he started making firing noises. Those cannons made the kid come out in everyone,” says Wenham. “It was important to have something that was both fun and amusing but not conventional. If you look closely at the light cannons, they’ve got details on them – little joysticks or a finger ball – like you’d see on the old arcade games. On the longer cannon they have red buttons and LED screens. We wanted a clear link between the classic arcade games and the modern high-tech weapons.”
Wenham was also responsible for creating the film’s other sets, including the 1980s Electric Dreams Factory arcade – the site of the World Championships where Sam Brenner, Ludlow Lamonsoff, and Eddie Plant excel – and the DARPA set where Violet Van Patten creates the Arcaders’ special weapons.
As part of creating the arcade for the championship sequence, the production design team procured hundreds of original arcade game cabinets from all over the country. Each cabinet was completely refurbished, as many of them had three or four layers of screen printing that had to be removed. Property Master Timothy Wiles explains: “It was a coordinated effort to find these cabinets, then find the right graphics, redo the screen print, and equip them with new LCDs and game play. Every game and graphic had to meet the approval of each respective partner company, so it was a massive effort that turned out to be fun and fantastic.”
Costume designer Christine Wada took great care in dressing the scene’s 785 actors for the period. “In general, the ‘80s were extremely colorful,” she says. “Some of the fashion back then was over-the-top, but to keep with Chris’ vision, we kept the wardrobe from becoming too cartoony.”
For the Arcaders’ uniforms, Wada began a long process of finding just the right look. “We wanted something that would make them feel tough, but also give them each their own character. It had to be believable and memorable. So, we started researching all different jump suits, flight suits, one-piece and two-piece outfits.”
“We wanted them to feel original and unique,” says Columbus. “Christine designed hundreds and hundreds of possibilities: everything from spandex, which would have been ridiculous on the bodies of my three lead actors, to typical superhero suits with built-in muscles. We settled on a look based on motor racing suits, and that seemed to work for everyone. Particularly Peter Dinklage’s character – he still wears a mullet, seems trapped in the eighties, and has been in jail for several years. We cut the sleeves off of his Arcader costume, so his tattoos were visible, and suddenly, he became Eddie.”
Even once the suit had been settled, Wada’s work on the uniform was not done. “The Arcaders logo took me a couple of weeks,” she recalls. “I wanted it to be something iconic, but not distracting for the audience.”
The racing suits had one other advantage for a film that shot in the humid summertime. “This is one of the most high-tech fabrics out there. It’s developed to be in a Formula One car with no air conditioning, and they’re made so that the car racers don’t get overheated,” she says. “Those suits are actually as cool as it gets.”
Wada’s other great challenge was to create the look for Lady Lisa, the 1980s object of desire for the film’s fictional game, Dojo Quest. “In the end, there were 222 designs of her costume and hair,” Wada recalls. The reason it was such a great challenge was that Lady Lisa had to do so much: “She’s a character from the 80s, so the design has to feel backdated, but also work in a modern context. She had to be iconic, but the character would also have to handle stunts. And the design had to be able to handle visual effects, so there were certain boundaries that we had to work within.”
Wada’s design melds numerous influences: the layered designs of 1980s swimsuits, crossed with Asian inspirations. “It’s a costume Ashley can actually move and fight in, but it’s also one that makes her look like a character that a teenage boy would fall in love with,” she says.
“I love the costume so much,” says Benson. “It would be cool to see girls being Lady Lisa for Halloween.”
ABOUT THE CAST
ADAM SANDLER (Brenner / producer) has enjoyed phenomenal success as an actor, writer, producer and musician.
Sandler’s films have grossed over $3 billion worldwide and include the box office smashes Grown Ups 2, Just Go With It, Grown Ups, Bedtime Stories for Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures’ You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, and Universal’s comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.
Most recently, Sandler was seen in the Jason Reitman film Men Women and Children and the Independent film The Cobbler starring with Steve Buscemi and Dustin Hoffman. He also reteamed with Drew Barrymore for their third collaboration on the film Blended.
This year, in addition to Pixels, Sandler will once again lend his voice to Dracula in Hotel Transylvania 2.
Sandler has completed production on The Ridiculous 6 for Netflix. The film, directed by Frank Coraci and written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy also stars Will Forte, Taylor Lautner, Steve Buscemi, Danny Trejo, Terry Crews and Jorge Garcia.
Sandler was also recently seen reprising his role as Lenny Feder in the comedy Grown Ups 2 and That’s My Boy opposite Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester. He also lent his voice to the lead role of Dracula in Hotel Transylvania, which his production company, Happy Madison, also produced.
Previously, Sandler has been seen as the title roles of Jack and Jill alongside Katie Holmes and Al Pacino; Just Go With It, opposite Jennifer Aniston, and lent his voice to Sony’s comedy Zookeeper alongside Kevin James, Jon Favreau, Sylvester Stallone, and Rosario Dawson. He also starred in Sony Pictures’ Grown Ups for director Dennis Dugan, Universal’s Funny People, written and directed by Judd Apatow starring with Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Erica Bana, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman; the starring role opposite Don Cheadle in Sony’s Reign O’er Me for director Mike Binder, the box-office hits Click, starring with Kate Beckinsale, and The Longest Yard, starring with Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds. His other credits include James L. Brooks’ Spanglish, opposite Tea Leoni; the romantic comedy 50 First Dates, with Drew Barrymore; Anger Management, with Jack Nicholson; and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, Sandler’s first brush with comedy came at age 17, with a performance at a Boston comedy club. From then on he was hooked, performing regularly in comedy clubs throughout the state, while earning a degree in Fine Arts from New York University. While performing stand up, he was spotted by Dennis Miller and recruited to join the “Saturday Night Live” team where he was a regular for five seasons.
Sandler’s production company Happy Madison Productions was co-founded by Jack Giarraputo and Sandler and has gone on to become an almost self-contained mini studio, being involved in all aspects of film production. Amongst its many films, Happy Madison has produced Blended, That’s My Boy, Jack and Jill, Just Go With It, Click, The Benchwarmers, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, The House Bunny, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2, Zookeeper, and, most recently, Pixels.
Sandler has also collaborated with writer Tim Herlihy on the screenplays for Happy Gilmore, Little Nicky, Billy Madison, Big Daddy, The Waterboy, and Grown Ups 2, and executive produced Hotel Transylvania, The Longest Yard, Grandma’s Boy, The Animal, Joe Dirt, The Master of Disguise, The Hot Chick, and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, among others.
Happy Madison Productions also has a deal with Columbia Tri-Star Domestic Television to develop shows for the studio including “Rules of Engagement” starring David Spade and Oliver Hudson, which recently ended a successful six year run and the hit ABC series “The Goldbergs.”
Sandler’s comedy albums on Warner Bros Records have gone multi-platinum. Collectively, they have sold more than six million copies to date. Several years ago, Sandler launched AdamSandler.com. This site is updated weekly with mini-movies featuring Sandler and the staff of Happy Madison in their daily routines.
KEVIN JAMES (Cooper), star of the hit comedies Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper, was most recently seen in the hit comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.
James began his career as a stand-up on the Long Island comedy scene. After being discovered at the 1996 Montreal Comedy Festival, he signed a network development deal to create his own sitcom.
“The King of Queens,” which premiered in 1998, ran for nine seasons on CBS with James starring and executive producing, and it garnered him an Emmy nomination in 2006 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. The show concluded its run in 2007 but continues to air daily in syndication across the country and around the world.
In 2001, James brought his stand-up act to TV with “Sweat the Small Stuff,” a one-hour special for Comedy Central. In 2005, James and Ray Romano executive produced and starred in the HBO Sports Special “Making the Cut: The Road to Pebble Beach”, a documentary about the Pebble Beach Pro Am Golf Tournament that was nominated for a Sports Emmy.
James made his feature film debut in 2005, starring opposite Will Smith in Columbia Pictures’ Hitch. Since, James headlined Here Comes the Boom, and starred alongside Adam Sandler in Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
In addition to his on-camera work, James’s voice has been featured in the animated films Barnyard for Nick Movies, as well as Monster House and Hotel Transylvania, and its upcoming sequel for Sony Pictures Animation.
With a slate of roles that reflect her strength, charm and beauty, MICHELLE MONAGHAN (Violet) lights up every film with performances rooted in depth and humanity.
This year, Monaghan will film Baran bo Odar’s Sleepless Night opposite Jamie Foxx. Based on the 2011 French film Nuit Blanche, the film follows an undercover police officer who scours the criminal underworld in search of his kidnapped son. Open Road will release the film in 2016.
Monaghan can currently be seen in Justin Reardon’s Playing It Cool opposite Chris Evans, and was most recently seen in the Michael Hoffman drama The Best of Me based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks. Prior to that, Monaghan was seen in Claudia Myers’ Fort Bliss which tells the story of a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who once stateside, struggles to rebuild her relationship with her young son.
Also last year, Monaghan starred in the HBO drama “True Detective” opposite Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The debut series follows detectives working to solve the case of a serial killer in Louisiana that has been open for 17 years. Monaghan starred as Harrelson’s wife who makes a hard decision that has long-reaching and devastating consequences. The eight-episode anthology was penned by novelist and former “The Killing” scribe Nic Pizzolatto, and directed by Cary Fukunaga. Monaghan was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Maggie Hart.
Monaghan previously won critical acclaim for her performance in the 2008 independent feature Trucker, which she also executive produced. She starred as Diane Ford – a vivacious young truck driver who leads a carefree life of long-haul trucking, one night stands, and all-night drinking until her estranged 11-year-old son shows up at her door. She has also been seen starring in films such as Marc Foster’s Machine Gun Preacher opposite Gerard Butler and the well-received sci-fi thriller Source Code directed by Duncan Jones co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
For her breakout role in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Monaghan starred opposite Robert Downey Jr. and won rave reviews for her performance in the action adventure. Her other screen credits include the box-office hit, Eagle Eye co-starring Shia LaBeouf; Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere; Niki Caro’s North Country opposite Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand; Gone Baby Gone opposite Casey Affleck and Morgan Freeman; and J.J. Abrams’ Mission Impossible III opposite Tom Cruise. She has also starred in the hit comedies Made of Honor opposite Patrick Dempsey, The Heartbreak Kid opposite Ben Stiller, and Due Date, which had her reteaming with Robert Downey Jr.
Originally from Iowa, Monaghan currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter and son.
PETER DINKLAGE (Eddie) got his shot at redefining the concept of a leading man with his starring role in the Sundance Audience Award winner The Station Agent, which drew standing ovations at the Sundance Film Festival and was immediately bought and released by Miramax.
After the Dramatic Audience Award, Dinklage went on to receive the SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor, the Independent Spirit Award Nominee for Best Actor and was also named one of the top 5 Breakout Stars of the Year by Entertainment Weekly. He has been extremely busy ever since.
On the film side, Dinklage’s credits include Fox’s recent blockbuster X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Sony’s Death at a Funeral with Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. Dinklage will next be seen in Universal’s Michelle Darnell opposite Melissa McCarthy.
Getting back to his theatre roots, Dinklage starred in the title role of The Public Theatre’s critically acclaimed Richard III; Charlie Kaufman’s Theatre of the New Ear co-starring Meryl Streep and Hope Davis; and Knickerbocker at Williamstown.
Rounding out the triple threat, Dinklage’s television credits include working with networks like HBO, CBS, and ABC. Dinklage is currently starring in HBO’s smash hit event series “Game of Thrones,” for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Emmy and Golden Globe.
JOSH GAD (Ludlow) brings incredible wit, humor and depth to all of his roles from a summer- loving snowman to a wacky Mormon missionary.
Gad can currently be seen in the new FX show “The Comedians” about a veteran comedian who is reluctantly paired with a younger, edgier comedian for a late-night comedy sketch show. Gad stars alongside Billy Crystal, who is also a writer on the show.
He most recently starred opposite Kevin Hart in the comedy The Wedding Ringer and in the Zach Braff indie project Wish I Was Here, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. He also starred as the loveable sidekick Olaf in Disney’s award-nominated animated film Frozen.
Gad will soon begin production on the live-action Disney film Beauty and the Beast in the role of Le Fou, Gaston’s side-kick. The film is set to release on March 17, 2017. He will also lend his voice to Sony’s Angry Birds, an animated film adaptation of the popular game, and has signed on to star in the Warner Bros. movie Gilligan’s Island. Gad will also write the script with Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez.
Additional film credits include the Steve Job’s biopic Jobs; Thanks for Sharing with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins; Shawn Levy’s The Internship, opposite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson; Ed Zwick’s Love & Other Drugs, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Hank Azaria; Shawn Levy’s The Rocker, alongside Rainn Wilson; 21, opposite Kate Bosworth, Lawrence Fishburne and Kevin Spacey; and Crossing Over, with Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd. Other voice credits include Ice Age: Continental Drift, alongside Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez and John Leguizamo.
Gad served as an executive producer, co-creator and star on NBC’s family comedy “1600 Penn.” He played Skip Gilchrist, the clumsy eldest son of the President (Bill Pullman), whose sincere attempts to do the right thing often go awry. Gad has also lent his voice to Woodie on MTV’s animated series “Good Vibes” and played the title role on BBC Worldwide’s “Gigi: Almost American.” He has guest-starred on hit series such as “New Girl” and “Modern Family.”
Gad took Broadway by storm starring as Elder Cunningham in the Tony Award-winning comedy musical “The Book of Mormon.” Gad was nominated for Tony, Drama League and Astaire awards, winning the Outer Critics Circle Award. He made his Broadway debut in a Tony-winning production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
After graduating from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, Gad began his career in the theater. He then turned his sights to comedy, co-founding his own company, The Lost Nomads Comedy Troupe.
BRIAN COX (Admiral Porter) is an award-winning actor of the stage, screen and television. He has appeared in dozens of plays on the stages of London, New York and Scotland. Cox earned AFI and Independent Spirit Award nominations for his work in the critically hailed independent film L.I.E. and also shared a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination as part of the ensemble cast of Spike Jonze’s Adaptation. His most recent film credits include roles in The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Red 2, Coriolanus, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Campaign, and Blood. Additionally, he has appeared in The Good Heart, Tell-Tale, The Escapist, Troy, X2, Zodiac, 25th Hour, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Ring, Red, The Rookie, The Affair of the Necklace, For the Love of the Game, Rushmore, Desperate Measures, The Boxer, Kiss the Girls, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Manhunter, Hidden Agenda, and Nicholas and Alexandra.
In Fall 2015, he will star in a new production of “Waiting for Godot,” for the 50th Anniversary of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre. Cox was one of the original performers in the Lyceum’s first ever production in 1965, “The Servant o’ ‘Twa Maisters.” He was only 19.
Cox has collaborated with award-winning playwright Conor McPherson on several productions, most recently “The Weir,” which Cox starred in at the Donmar Warehouse. They also collaborated on “Dublin Carol,” in which Cox starred as grim alcoholic undertaker John Plunkett.
Repeatedly honored for his work in the theatre, Cox won two Olivier Awards for his performances in “Rat in the Skull” and “Titus Andronicus”; British Theatre Association Drama Awards for Best Actor for his work in “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Strange Interlude”; and the Lucille Lortel Award, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations, for “St. Nicholas.” He spent eight months in London’s West End, starring as Max in Tom Stoppard’s “Rock ‘n Roll,” a role he reprised on Broadway. Cox was also seen on Broadway in “The Championship Season.” Cox has also helmed stage productions of “I Love My Life,” “Mrs. Warren’s Profession,” “The Philanderer,” “The Master Builder” and “Richard III.”
Cox recently finished shooting a BBC production of “War and Peace.” His recent television credits include NBC’s “The Slap” and BBC America’s “The Game,” as well as “Bob Servant,” the British miniseries “The Sinking of the Laconia,” “The Day of the Triffids” and “The Take,” and a guest-starring role on Showtime’s “The Big C.” He received a 2001 Emmy Award for his performance as Hermann Goering in the miniseries “Nuremberg,” and was also nominated for Golden Globe and SAG Awards. He also earned an Emmy Award nomination for his guest appearance on the comedy series “Frasier,” and co-starred in the third season of HBO’s acclaimed original series “Deadwood.”
Cox made his television directorial debut for the hit HBO prison drama “Oz.”
He is the author of two books, Salem to Moscow: An Actors Odyssey and The Lear Diaries.
In 2003, Cox’s contributions to the arts were honored by Queen Elizabeth II, who named him a Commander of the British Empire. In 2006, Empire Magazine honored his film achievements with the Empire Icon Award and, in 2007, the UK Film Council named him one of the Top 10 powerful British film stars in Hollywood today.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
For over twenty-five years, Academy Award® nominated filmmaker CHRIS COLUMBUS (Director / Producer) has written, directed and produced some of the most successful box-office hits, establishing him as a major force in contemporary Hollywood. Along with being a prominent figure in the film industry, Columbus is also a New York Times best-selling author. His novel, House of Secrets, the first iteration of an epic new fantasy series, was published in April 2013 to rave reviews and quickly rose to the top of the charts.
Columbus is the masterful filmmaker behind several of the most revered and successful literary adaptations of the Harry Potter series, as the director and producer of the first three blockbuster films. As the director of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first film based on J.K. Rowling’s monumentally successful book series, Columbus delivered a film that was equally satiating to both readers and fans, while capturing the essence of the beloved characters. He cast newcomers Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in the leading roles, demonstrating his facility for nurturing and cultivating young talent. The film triumphed at the box office and Columbus followed the film as director and producer of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002, and as producer of the third film of the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in 2005. All three films went on to collectively gross over $2.6 billion worldwide.
Columbus produced the highly successful family/adventure comedy Night at the Museum, and its two sequels, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Other film credits include: the 2005 screen adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical, RENT; Stepmom, starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon; Nine Months with Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore; Mrs. Doubtfire, starring Robin Williams and Sally Field; Only the Lonely based on his original screenplay; as well as the hits Home Alone, and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.
In Hollywood, Columbus first gained prominence by writing several original scripts produced by Steven Spielberg including the back-to-back hits Gremlins and The Goonies which became decade-defining films that intertwined high notes of offbeat, edgy, often outrageous humor against more classic adventure-thriller backdrops. These screenwriting achievements led Columbus to directing his first feature, Adventures in Babysitting, starring Elisabeth Shue.
Growing up outside Youngstown, Ohio, Columbus originally aspired to be a commercial artist—spending years studying art and interested in drawing for comics. He eventually made the connection between comic books and movie storyboards and graduated from NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts where he sold his first script, Jocks.
In 2011, Columbus released his latest blockbuster hit, The Help, starring Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Jessica Chastain and Viola Davis under his 1492 Pictures banner. The drama takes a look at what happens when a southern town’s unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship. At the 84th Academy Awards®, The Help garnered four nominations, including two for Best Supporting Actress and one for Best Picture. Octavia Spencer won the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of the character Minny Jackson, one of the three main heroines in the film. To date, the film has grossed over $212 million worldwide.
TIM HERLIHY (Screenplay by / Story by) has written or co-written the films Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, Bedtime Stories. He served as executive producer on the films Grown Ups, Click, Anger Management, The Longest Yard, Just Go With It, Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy, and Grown Ups 2.
From 1994 to 1999, Herlihy served as writer, head writer and ultimately producer of the television variety series “Saturday Night Live,” for which he received an Emmy Award® nomination.
In 2006, Herlihy, a former attorney, was nominated for a Tony Award® for the Broadway musical version of “The Wedding Singer,” which he co-wrote.
TIMOTHY DOWLING (Screenplay by) was born and raised in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts and is a graduate of the School of Theatre at the University of Southern California. As an actor, he was in the films The Beautician and the Beast, Dr. Benny, and Terminator 3. As a screenwriter, he is currently one of the top comedy writers in the business. In 2009, he was named one of Variety’s Ten Writers to Watch and last year listed in Fade In’s Top 100 People in Hollywood. He has written two scripts that were sited on the prestigious Blacklist. He co-wrote the short film George Lucas in Love, which received numerous awards at film festivals around the globe and is still the best selling short film of all time. He has written the hit films Role Models starring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott; Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Anniston and Nicole Kidman; and This Means War, starring Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon. Some of Dowling’s upcoming projects include a sequel to the 80s classic Midnight Run entitled Another Midnight Run, and an untitled project for Pixels director Chris Columbus and DreamWorks.
PATRICK JEAN (Based on the Short Film by / Executive Producer) first made his debut as a graphic designer for French TV, creating credit sequences for television shows, and allowing him to develop his skills in graphic design and discover his penchant for direction. In 2010, he directed his first short film Pixels, inspired by video games he used to play in his childhood. Pixels was seen 1 million times in just 24 hours after its release, creating a massive buzz on the internet, and won around 30 awards, including the prestigious Annecy Crystal in 2011. Following the phenomenal success of Pixels, Jean also directed music videos, short films and commercials for brands like Audi, Hermès or Eurostar. He is also preparing his first feature film: Omni Visibilis, adapted from a French comic book of the same name, which is currently being developed at Chapter 2.
MARK RADCLIFFE (Producer) continues his long association with director Chris Columbus and 1492 Pictures, which dates back to 1988.
Since the birth of their partnership, Radcliffe has served as executive producer on the Oscar®-nominated 2011 hit The Help, and the first two of the Harry Potter franchise Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
He also produced the third installment in the Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (sharing a BAFTA Award as Best Children’s Film and a second nomination as Best British Film). Radcliffe also shared awards for the People’s Choice Award and the Golden Globe for Producing Mrs. Doubtfire.
He produced Christ the Lord, Mrs. Doubtfire, Stepmom, Rent, Bicentennial Man, Nine Months, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, I Love You Beth Cooper, Christmas with the Kranks, Jingle All the Way, and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.
Working together in their 1492 Pictures production entity, Radcliffe also served as Executive Producer on Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Fantastic Four and the sequel, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
His producing duties began on three early Columbus triumphs – Home Alone (on which he doubled as assistant director and associate producer), Only the Lonely (as co-producer and assistant director), and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (executive producer).
A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Radcliffe began his film career as assistant director on the Francis Ford Coppola production The Escape Artist, reteaming with Coppola on Rumble Fish and Peggy Sue Got Married. Other assistant director credits include John Hughes’ She’s Having a Baby and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Jerry Zucker’s Oscar®-nominated 1990 hit, Ghost, Donald Petrie’s Mystic Pizza” and Paul Schrader’s Light of Day. He also served as production manager on the 1979 film “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.
For nearly two decades, ALLEN COVERT (Producer) has built a multi-hyphenate career as an actor, producer, writer, and songwriter. It was all put into motion years earlier with a seemingly fated seating assignment in a “History of Comedy” class at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. His friendship with fellow student Adam Sandler quickly gelled, in part due to Covert’s proclivity for supplying Sandler with free food from the Italian restaurant where he worked as night manager.
Covert has co-written, co-produced, and/or starred in a number of the Happy Madison films over the years, including Happy Gilmore, Bulletproof, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Big Daddy (as actor, associate producer and writer of “The Kangaroo Song”), Little Nicky (actor, associate producer), Mr. Deeds, Eight Crazy Nights (actor, producer, soundtrack writer/producer), Anger Management (actor, executive producer), 50 First Dates (actor, songwriter), The Longest Yard (actor, executive producer), I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (actor, co-producer), Grown Ups (executive producer), Just Go With It (executive producer), Jack and Jill (executive producer), That’s My Boy (producer), Grown Ups 2 (actor, producer), Blended (actor, executive producer), and The Ridiculous 6 (producer).
He also co-scripted Sony’s hit comedy The Benchwarmers (starring David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Jon Heder). He co-wrote, produced, and starred in the cult comedy hit Grandma’s Boy with Nick Swardson, produced and starred in the comedy Strange Wilderness, and produced the comedies The House Bunny and Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. He has also written, produced, and performed on five comedy albums with Adam Sandler, which have collectively sold nearly 10 million copies, including Adam Sandler’s “What’s Your Name,” “They’re All Gonna Laugh at You,” and “What the Hell Happened to Me!”
Covert currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Kathryn, their young daughters; Hannah, Abigail, Rebecca, and their son Hank.
BARRY BERNARDI (Executive Producer) is now executive producing The Do Over, an original movie for Netflix starring Adam Sandler and David Spade. Previously he has executive produced The Ridiculous Six, for Netflix starring Adam Sandler, Taylor Lautner, Nick Nolte, Harvey Keitel, Luke Wilson, Terry Crews, Will Forte, Blended, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, Grown Ups 2, starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, That’s My Boy, starring Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg, Jack and Jill, starring Sandler and Katie Holmes, Zookeeper, starring Kevin James and Rosario Dawson, and Just Go With It, starring Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.
He served as executive producer on the films Grown Ups, starring Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and David Spade; You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, starring Adam Sandler, John Turturro and Emmanuelle Chriqui; I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Jessica Biel; Click, starring Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale and Christopher Walken; The Benchwarmers, starring Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder; and the box-office hit The Longest Yard, starring Sandler, Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds.
Other films he produced include the blockbuster hit Paul Blart Mall Cop starring Kevin James, Anger Management, starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson; Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo; The Master of Disguise; and The Animal. As executive producer, Bernardi has worked on the features The Haunted Mansion, Double Take, Inspector Gadget, My Favorite Martian, Deep Rising, Tom and Huck, Cabin Boy, The Adventures of Huck Finn and Devil’s Advocate. His other producer credits include Poltergeist III and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves.
After attending the California Institute of the Arts, Bernardi began his career as a story editor and producer’s assistant. In 1979, he teamed with director John Carpenter to be an associate producer on The Fog and Escape From New York. He remained with Carpenter to co-produce Halloween II, Halloween III, Christine and Starman.
From 1987-89, Bernardi served as senior vice president of production at New World Pictures, where he oversaw the development, production and release of such films as Heathers, Meet the Applegates and Warlock. Bernardi went on to co-found Steve White Productions. With White, he produced more than 25 telefilms. Among their credits are Amityville, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, She Said No, The Carolyn Warmus Story, She Stood Alone and A Mom for Christmas.
MICHAEL BARNATHAN (Executive Producer) is an Academy Award®-nominated producer and President of 1492 Pictures, in which he is a producing partner with Chris Columbus and Mark Radcliffe. The company was formed in May 1994.
Recently Barnathan produced Christ the Lord, based on the best-selling novel from Anne Rice. This faith-affirming fictional story follows young Jesus as he comes to discover his real identity and the truth surrounding his birth. Focus Features will release Easter 2016.
Barnathan has served as producer on such Columbus-directed projects as Nine Months, Rent, Stepmom, I Love You, Beth Cooper, and Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief . For 1492, he also produced The Help (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award®), Jingle All the Way, Cheaper by the Dozen, Christmas with the Kranks, Night at the Museum and the sequel, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
He served as executive producer on the first three installments of the Harry Potter franchise – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (both directed by Columbus) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (which earned a BAFTA Award as Best Children’s Film and a second nomination as Best British Film), as well as Fantastic Four, the sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb.
Next up, Barnathan will produce an adaptation of the graphic novel I Kill Giants, to be directed by Academy Award® winner Anders Walter.
Prior to joining 1492 Pictures, Barnathan was Senior Vice President of Production at Largo Entertainment for four years. His responsibilities included supervision of both development and production of Largo’s feature slate. The N.Y.U. grad (where he first met aspiring filmmaker Columbus his freshman year) served as executive producer on Used People and supervised such productions as Point Break, Dr. Giggles, Judgment Night and The Getaway.
Before joining Largo, Barnathan spent seven years working for Edgar J. Scherick Associates. During his last two years with Scherick, he served as Executive Vice President of Production, producing and executive producing numerous cable movies, telefilms and miniseries, including “The Kennedys of Massachusetts,” which received eight Emmy nominations and three Golden Globe nods, including Best Miniseries for each.
JACK GIARRAPUTO (Executive Producer) is one of Hollywood’s most successful producers. His films have grossed more than $2 billion domestically and over $3 billion worldwide, with 13 films topping the $100-million mark domestically. These films include Grown Ups 2, Just Go With It, Grown Ups, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Bedtime Stories, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Click, The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates, Anger Management, Mr. Deeds, Big Daddy and The Waterboy.
STEVE KOREN (Executive Producer) began his career writing monologue jokes for comedians such as David Letterman, Dennis Miller, and Kevin Nealon. This led to “Saturday Night Live,” where he earned several Emmy nominations creating sketches for Will Ferrell, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Molly Shannon.
Koren left late night TV to become a writer/producer on “Seinfeld.” Among his well-known episodes are “The Serenity Now,” “The English Patient,” and “The Abstinence.”
Following “Seinfeld,” Koren spent several years as a writer/producer creating television sitcoms for actors such as Steve Carrell, Valerie Harper and Ron Liebman.
In the feature world, Koren’s best known for co-writing the screenplays for hit movies such as Bruce Almighty and Click, as well as “SNL” cult films like Night at the Roxbury and Superstar.
In recent years, he has worked as a producer/writer for Adam Sandler on films such as Grown Ups, Just Go With It, and Blended amongst many others. Currently, he’s working as a writer/producer on the hit HBO series “Veep.”
HEATHER PARRY (Executive Producer) is Head of Film at Happy Madison, overseeing development and production for the company.
Parry first teamed with Happy Madison while working for MTV Films as co-producer of The Longest Yard, in which Sandler starred. Since joining Happy Madison, Parry has produced The House Bunny, the company’s first female-driven comedy. The film, a box office hit, starred Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Katharine McPhee, Rumer Willis, and Colin Hanks. Parry also produced Just Go With It, starring Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, and Brooklyn Decker, and That’s My Boy, starring Sandler and Andy Samberg.
Prior to joining Happy Madison, Parry served MTV for 12 years. Parry quickly rose to the position of West Coast Bureau Chief and then segued into development, where she oversaw series development as well as special movie programming and marketing specials. Parry worked on such projects as the iconic MTV show “The Week in Rock,” the highly-rated movie news program “MTV Movie House,” and the political show “Choose or Lose.” Parry then joined MTV Films, where, in addition to The Longest Yard, she co-produced Get Rich or Die Tryin’, directed by Oscar® nominee Jim Sheridan.
Currently, Parry is serving as an executive producer on Ridiculous Six for Netflix, and will be moving into production on the upcoming projects Golddiggers, First Man, and BFF, with many more projects in development. Parry is also an animal advocate and works with several dog rescue groups.
MATIAS BOUCARD (Executive Producer) was born on March 13, 1977 in France.
He created One More Production in 2007, with Benjamin Darras and Johnny Alves, and produced the short film Pixels (2010). In 2014, the trio created Film Croppers Entertainment, one of the production companies producing Pixels (2015), to develop new feature film projects.
Matias Boucard has also an international career, working as a director of photography on Features film and TV series for over 10 years.
JOHNNY ALVES (Executive Producer) was born on November 9, 1975 in France.
He supervised many blockbusters for post house BUF, including 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), 2046 (2004), and Spider-Man 3 (2007) and worked as digital artist on Panic Room (2002), Neverland (2004), and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). In 2007, he joined Benjamin Darras and Matias Boucard in One More Production, where he produced the short film Pixels (2010). In 2014, the trio created Film Croppers Entertainment, one of the production companies producing Pixels (2015), to develop new feature film projects.
Johnny Alves is currently the Artistic Director of the post house ONE MORE.
BENJAMIN DARRAS (Executive Producer) was born on May 26, 1980 in France. He has been involved in the post production of several blockbusters such as Alexander the Great (2004), Batman Begins (2005) and Pixels (2015). He was the founder of One More Production in 2007, with Matias Boucard and Johnny Alves, and produced the short film Pixels (2010). In 2014, the trio created Film Croppers Entertainment, one of the production companies producing Pixels (2015), to develop new feature film projects.
Benjamin Darras is currently CEO of the post house ONE MORE.
BEN WAISBREN (Executive Producer) is Chairman and President of LSC Film Corporation, which co-finances major motion pictures with Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. He is also an attorney with the international law firm of Winston & Strawn, where he advises clients in the U.S. and Europe in the media & entertainment and finance sectors. His clients include independent production and distribution companies, private equity firms, hedge funds, investment banks and commercial banks.
Earlier in his career, Waisbren was a managing director and head of investment banking restructuring at Salomon Brothers in New York, following a legal career at a large Chicago law firm, Lord, Bissell & Brook, where he led a national bankruptcy litigation practice.
Prior to joining Winston & Strawn in early 2013, Mr. Waisbren was the President of Continental Entertainment Capital LP, a direct subsidiary of Citigroup, with operations in New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Before that, he was a managing director of a global hedge fund company, Stark Investments, where he was a co-portfolio manager in the fixed income and private equity areas, and responsible for investments in the feature film industry, and the formation of the firm’s structured finance fund and a related, branded middle market leveraged lender, Freeport Financial.
Waisbren served as a member of the Board of Directors of France’s Wild Bunch, S.A., a pan-European motion picture production, distribution and sales company, from 2005 until 2009, in connection with private equity investments that he managed.
He was Executive Producer of Warner Bros. Pictures’ 300; Blood Diamond; V for Vendetta; Nancy Drew; The Good German; Poseidon; and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. In addition, he was Executive Producer of the following independent studio releases: Cassandra’s Dream; First Born; Next; Bangkok Dangerous; and Gardener of Eden. For Sony Pictures Entertainment, he served as an executive producer of Columbia Pictures’ 22 Jump Street, Sex Tape, The Equalizer, Fury, Chappie, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, and Aloha, and Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer.
AMIR MOKRI (Director of Photography) attended Emerson College in Boston, where he majored in Mass Communication and Film. Upon graduation, he was accepted as a fellow into the highly-competitive Cinematography program at the American Film Institute. Shortly thereafter, he met director Wayne Wang and the duo has since collaborated on many films including The Joy Luck Club, Life is Cheap, Eat a Bowl of Tea and Slamdance, which was Mokri’s feature film debut.
Mokri’s filmography exhibits his incredible versatility and experience as a cinematographer and an artist – from shooting smaller independent films like Good Kill (directed by Andrew Niccol), which premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, to big budget tent poles such as Transformers: Age of Extinction, Man of Steel, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Fast & Furious. Other credits include Season of the Witch, Vantage Point, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Lord of War, Taking Lives, Bad Boys 2, Don’t Say a Word, Salton Sea, Coyote Ugly, An Eye for an Eye, Freejack, Pacific Heights, Whore, Blue Steel and Queens Logic. Mokri also has extensive credits in both commercials and short films.
PETER WENHAM (Production Designer) began his career in the entertainment business in 1987 working at the BBC, after studying interior design and architecture at De Monfort University. He moved onto building his foundation of experience by working at Independent Television (ITV) and London Weekend Television (LWT) in the United Kingdom as an Art Director for a range of successful television programs including “Poirot” (1989-1996), among many others. He then ventured into film and television movies and received Emmy Award Nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special for both “Hornblower: Mutiny” (2001) and “Hornblower: Duty” (2003).
Wenham’s success in television and television movies led to his career working as a Supervising Art Director in feature films in the United Kingdom. His Supervising Art Director credits include The Bourne Supremacy (2004), Kinky Boots (2005), The Queen (2006), which was nominated for an ADG Award for Excellence in Production Design, and Blood Diamond (2006). His work on The Bourne Supremacy led to becoming the Production Designer for The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), which he was nominated for an ADG Award for Excellence in Production Design. After Bourne, Wenham’s career took him to the United States as he Production Designed films such as Columbia Pictures’ Battle: Los Angeles (2011), Universal Pictures’ Fast Five (2011), Sony Pictures’ 21 Jump Street (2012), and Summit Entertainment’s Now You See Me (2013). Wenham also worked on Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier which was released in April 2014 and he was again nominated again for a ADG Award for his work. He is currently filming Inferno in Europe with Ron Howard directing .
HUGHES WINBORNE, ACE (Editor) grew up in Raleigh, N.C., and attended the University of North Carolina, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history. Winborne began his editing career with Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade. In 2006, he edited Gabriele Muccino’s The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith and again worked with Muccino in 2008 on Seven Pounds.
Other notable credits include Toni Kalem’s A Slipping-Down Life and the Oscar®-winning film, Tate Taylor’s The Help. In 2004, Winborne cut for the critically acclaimed film Crash, for which he won an Academy Award® for Best Achievement in Film Editing. He most recently edited Guardians of the Galaxy.
CHRISTINE WADA (Costume Designer) is an established Costume Designer, working all over the world. Prior to Pixels, she worked in South Africa on the Sandler-and-Barrymore combo Blended.
Wada began training to become a designer on Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can and the Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou. It was the 2011 hit Bridesmaids, which she co-designed with Leesa Evans, that pushed her career to the next level – and earned her a CDG nomination.
She has completed several more comedies, including Get a Job and 21 and Over.
Classically trained from an early age, HENRY JACKMAN (Music by) is a revolutionary film composer, ingeniously marrying his expertise in classical music with his experience in dance/club music and his innovative production of Electronica. For each film he scores, Henry combines a unique range of skills, which include classical composition, orchestral arrangement, beat programming, sound design, production and mixing.
Jackman’s recent film scores show this immense versatility, paralleled by few other composers. He is able to easily span across a wide range of genres, from action films to period dramas to family films, including: Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Captain Phillips, X-Men: First Class, Henri 4, Wreck-It Ralph, Puss In Boots, Kick Ass, Turbo, This is the End, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Man On A Ledge, Winnie The Pooh, Gulliver’s Travels, Monsters and Aliens, and the Oscar® winning Big Hero 6.
Henry Jackman, born in Hillingdon, Middlesex, UK, began composing his first symphony at age six, and was an accomplished composer by age nine. He went on to study classical music at St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir School, Eton College and Oxford University. As a teenager, he became heavily influenced by the underground rave scene, and he began producing chart-topping dance remixes, electronica and club music soon afterwards.
Over the next few years, Jackman built a successful career in the recording industry, not only releasing 3 acclaimed solo albums, but also co-writing, mixing, producing, and programming with a host of outstanding artists. Jackman wrote, mixed and produced albums and songs for Seal and Art of Noise. He co-wrote songs for the films The Family Man and Anastasia. He produced songs with Gary Barlow from Take That (which reached no. 3 in the UK Charts) and Justin. He programmed for artists Mike Oldfield, Marc Almond, Coolio and Kirsty McColl. He even collaborated with Andy Gardner (of Plump DJ’s fame) to produce a series of Dance Remixes that topped the dance charts and were selected for Pete Tong’s Essential selection.
In 2006, Jackman’s accomplishments garnered the attention of Hans Zimmer and John Powell, who soon hired Jackman to compose additional music on such films as The Dark Knight, The Da Vinci Code, Kung Fu Panda and the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Jackman’s first major solo scoring gig was Monsters and Aliens in 2009, a family movie with a heavy action score, and began his fruitful career as one of the most sought after composers today.
Henry Jackman is currently scoring Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, in theaters in May 2016.
Pixels releases in SA on 24 July in Imax and 3D as well as 2D.