Steven Spielberg

  • Birth

    Birth
    Steven Allan Spielberg was born on December 18, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother, Leah, was a restaurateur and concert pianist, and his father, Arnold Spielberg (born 1917), was an electrical engineer involved in the development of computers.
  • His first films

    At age 12, he made his first home movie: a train wreck! 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". Years later, Spielberg recalled 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."
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    His first distinctions

    At age 13, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war film he titled "Escape to Nowhere"... That motivated him to make 15 more amateur 8 mm films. 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 was made for $500, most of which came from his father, and was shown in a local cinema for one evening, which earned back its cost.
  • University applying

    University applying
    His parents divorced while he was still in school, and soon after he graduated Spielberg moved to Los Angeles, staying initially with his father. His long-term goal was to become a film director. In Los Angeles, he applied to the University of Southern California's film school, but was turned down because of his "C" grade average. He then applied and was admitted to California State University, Long Beach, where he became a brother of Theta Chi Fraternity.
  • His first job

    His first job
    While still a student, he was offered an unpaid job at Universal Studios with the editing department. He was later given the opportunity to make a short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute Amblin'. Studio vice president Sidney Sheinberg was impressed by the film and offered Spielberg a seven-year directing contract. He subsequently dropped out of college to begin professionally directing TV productions with Universal. Spielberg returned to the University in 2002 and completed his degree.
  • His first collaboration

    His first collaboration
    His first professional TV job came when he was hired to direct one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery, written by Rod Serling and starring Joan Crawford. Crawford, however, was "speechless, and then horrified" at the thought of a twenty-one-year-old newcomer directing her, one of Hollywood's leading stars. "Why was this happening to me?" she asked the producer. Her attitude changed after they began working on her scenes.
  • His first hit

    His first hit
    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. 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 and grossing more than $470 million worldwide at the box office.
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941
    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). Close Encounters was a critical and box office hit, giving Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy. It won Oscars in two categories. His next film (1979), "1941",a World War II farce, was not nearly as successful and was seen as a disappointment.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    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. It became the biggest film at the box office in 1981, and the recipient of numerous Oscar nominations including Best Director and Best Picture. Raiders is still considered a landmark example of the action-adventure genre.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
    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. went on to become the top-grossing film of all time. It was also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director and it won 4 out of them.
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    Three hits in a row

    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).
  • The Temple of Doom and Gremlins

    The Temple of Doom and Gremlins
    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. It was the same year that Spielberg realeased his Christmas film: "Gremlins". 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.
  • The Last Crusade

    The Last Crusade
    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 Indiana's father. The film earned generally positive reviews and was another box office success, becoming the highest-grossing film worldwide that year.
  • Jurassic Park

    Jurassic Park
    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.
  • Schindler's List

    Schindler's List
    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. 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.
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    A tiny break

    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 1996, he directed the sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park with "The Lost World", which generated over $618 million worldwide despite mixed reviews, and was the second biggest film of 1997 behind James Cameron's Titanic (which topped the original Jurassic Park to become the new recordholder for box office receipts).
  • Saving Private Ryan

    Saving Private Ryan
    His 1998 theatrical release 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. 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.
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence

    A.I. Artificial Intelligence
    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.
  • War of the Worlds

    War of the Worlds
    Also in 2005, Spielberg directed a modern adaptation of "War of the Worlds", based on the H. G. Wells book of the same name. 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.
  • The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

    The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    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 was financially successful, grossing $786 million worldwide.
  • The Secret of the Unicorn

    The Secret of the Unicorn
    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. "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn", was not released until October 2011, due to the complexity of the computer animation involved. The film was released in North American theaters on December 21, 2011. It received generally positive reviews from critics, and grossed over $373 million worldwide.
  • Bridge of Spies

    Bridge of Spies
    Spielberg directed 2015's "Bridge of Spies", a Cold War thriller based on the 1960 U-2 incident, and focusing on James B. Donovan's negotiations with the Soviets for the release of pilot Gary Powers after his aircraft was shot down over Soviet territory. The film starred Tom Hanks as Donovan, as well as Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda, with a script by the Coen brothers. The film was shot from September to December 2014 and was released on October 16, 2015.
  • The Big Friendly Giant

    The Big Friendly Giant
    Spielberg's "The BFG" is an adaptation of Roald Dahl's celebrated children's story. DreamWorks bought the rights in 2010, originally intending John Madden to direct. It was co-produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures, marking the first Disney-branded film to be directed by Spielberg. The BFG premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2016 and received a wide release in the US on July 1, 2016.
  • Ready Player One

    Ready Player One
    Spielberg directed the film adaptation of the popular sci-fi novel "Ready Player One", by Ernest Cline. It began production in London in July 2016, a year before "The Post", which was filmed, edited and released during the lengthy, effects-heavy post-production period for "Ready Player One". "Ready Player One" was originally stated to be released on December 15, 2017 by Warner Bros., but was pushed back to March 29, 2018, to avoid competition with "Star Wars: The Last Jedi".