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Who's who in the new wave of directors hitting Hollywood

01:00 Thu 21st Feb 2002 |

A.� LA executives admit they are all searching for the next Steven Spielberg - many would be happy to find the next Steven Soderbergh, who has notched up recent hits, including Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Out of Sight and Ocean's Eleven. He is the latest example of a director with an arthouse background who has refreshed commercial movies. The studios are now putting their faith in directors such as David O. Russell, who did Three Rings, Kimberly Peirce, of Boys Don't Cry, and Spike Jonze, who directed Being John Malkovich.

Other new talent includes Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) who came up with X-Men. New Line Cinema had faith in New Zealand director Peter Jackson for the epic trilogy Lord Of The Rings. Arthouse veteran Darren Aranofsky - who directed Requiem For A Dream - has been working on the novels Watchmen and Batman: Year One, and Ang Lee, who directed last year's hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is bringing the green giant Hulk to the big screen.

Q.� Is Hollywood turning to a new direction

A.� The big box office hits of 2001 were mostly event movies, remakes and sequels, Pearl Harbor, Planet of the Apes, but there were several failures like Town and Country and Swordfish. The incredible success of Easy Rider in 1969 promoted Hollywood to turn to young directors like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola to revitalise the industry. Now Tinseltown is trying to find new talent to refresh movies in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11.

The studios have offered young directors relatively low-risk budgets of around $20 million a movie in the hope they will attract the cream of LA talent. Wes Anderson has come up with a dysfunctional family saga, The Royal Tenenbaums, which stars Gene Hackman and Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexander Payne has cast Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt, and Nicolas Cage will star in Adaptations, a story about a screenwriter by Spike Jonze.

Insiders say today's indie film-makers will become tomorrow's mainstream directors. The Wachowswski brothers reinvented the big budget movie by stealing from everything from the Bible to King Kong movies in The Matrix, but didn't go to film school. They are being heralded - along with Jonze - as the new wave of freedom thinking in the Hollywood Hills.

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By Katharine MacColl

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