Q&A: Robert Zemeckis
After a rough few years, the director is redeemed in "Flight's" success but isn't quite ready to sing the praises of a "terrified" Hollywood. "I'm not going to respond to anything a critic says."
At 61, Robert Zemeckis has a track record few directors can match: He has racked up nearly $4 billion in worldwide box office; his 1994 film, Forrest Gump, won six Oscars, including best picture and best director; and he has pioneered groundbreaking techniques in just about every movie he has made. He also has faced constant skepticism. When he invented a new way to meld live-action and cartoon characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the animation community predicted the picture would be "the Ishtar of animation." That technology now is standard. When he became enamored with motion capture for The Polar Express, some derided the "dead eye" look, but the film grossed more than $300 million worldwide, and the technique came into common use. Then the 2011 film Mars Needs Moms, produced by Zemeckis, reportedly inflicted a $125 million loss on Disney, which led to the shuttering of his San Rafael, Calif.-based ImageMovers Digital animation facility. It is easy to view Flight, with a budget of $31 million, as Zemeckis' contrite return to live action. But the director doesn't see it that way.
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