Pirates of the Caribbean
First coming to prominence as the creator of the Budweiser frog commercials, American movie director Gore Verbinski made his movie debut with the box office hit “MouseHunt” (1997), which made $122 million worldwide against its $38 million budget. Following the moderate success of “The Mexican” (2001), the graduate of UCLA’s Film School enjoyed another financial victory with the American remake of “The Ring” (2002), which starred Naomi Watts. Commenting on Watts' performance in the film, he stated, “Naomi's great. She's completely dedicated to her performance and not to her image. That process allows her to become Rachel in this movie and go to some darker areas that I think a lot of actors wouldn't feel comfortable doing.”
However, Verbinski is perhaps best known for directing the blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003), “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” (2004) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End” (2007). He picked up a Hollywood Film Festival Award and nominations at the Saturn, Amanda, and Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for the first film. The winner of four Clio Awards and one Cannes advertising Silver Lion award, Verbinski began his career as a guitarist for bands as a teenager before directing music videos, commercials and movies.
Verbinski and his wife Clayton have two children together.
Childhood and Family:
On March 16, 1964, Gregor Verbinski, professionally known as Gore Verbinski, was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was raised the third of five children by Vic and Laurette Verbinski. His father, who was of Polish origin, worked as a nuclear physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. When Gore was three years old, his family moved to California and young Gore and his siblings (Janine, Claire, Diane and Steven) grew up in the town of La Jolla. As a child, he was a fan of “The Metamorphosis,” a short novel by Bohemian writer Franz Kafka, and “Master of Reality” (1971), a double platinum album from the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He actively participated in Boy Scouts and surfed regularly. He was educated at Torrey Pines Elementary, Muirlands Junior High, and La Jolla High School. A wannabe filmmaker, he sold his guitar for a Super 8mm camera and later pursued his ambition at the celebrated UCLA Film School. He received his BFA in film in 1987.
Gore is married to Clayton. The couple has two kids named Anton and Ivan.
As a teenager, Gore Verbinski began his career as a guitarist for punk rock bands, including The Daredevils, Bulldozer, and The Little Kings. He made his first movies with friends called “The Driver Files” around 1979. After building a love for filmmaking, he sold his guitar to purchase a Super 8mm camera and then studied professionally at the UCLA Film School.
With a BFA in film, Verbinski kicked off his professional directing career in the late 1980s by directing music videos for alternative bands, such as L7, Bad Religion, NOFX, and Monster Magnet. He went into commercial advertisements in 1993 and worked for such clients as Coca-Cola, United Airlines, Canon, Nike and Skittles. He, however, did not achieve early fame until he created the well known Budweiser campaign, which featured frogs in 1995. The commercials brought him four Clio Awards and a Cannes Advertising Silver Lion.
Following his success in commercials, Verbinski wrote and directed the short film “The Ritual” (1996). He made his feature film directing debut with “MouseHunt” (1997), a comedy starring Nathan Lane and Lee Evans. The movie opened at No. 4 and collected over $6 million in its opening weekend. The film went on to amass nearly $62 million domestically and over $60 million overseas. “MouseHunt” won the 1998 Key Art Award for Best of Show - Audiovisual and the 1998 World Animation Celebration (WAC) for Best Use of Computer Animation in a Traditional Film by a Professional.
Four years later, Verbinski returned to the director's chair when he helmed Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt in the movie “The Mexican” (2001), written by J. H. Wyman. Despite its star power, the film failed to charm critics and audiences.
The director quickly bounced back with the psychological horror film “The Ring,” a remake of the 1998 Japanese film “Ringu.” Starring Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson, the film received positive reviews from critics and was a financial success. The film spawned a sequel titled “The Ring Two” (2005), which was directed by Hideo Nakata who was the director of “Ringu.” The same year, Verbinski also helped to direct “The Time Machine,” a science fiction movie loosely adapted from the 1985 novel of the same name by H.G. Wells. He was brought in to take over the last 18 days of shooting when the original director Simon Wells suffered from exhaustion.
Verbinski gained even bigger victory the following year as the director of “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” Written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, the movie earned primarily favorable reviews from critics and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Depp), Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. For his effort, Verbinski received a Hollywood Film Festival for Hollywood Movie of the Year, a Saturn nomination for Best Director, an Amanda nomination for Best Foreign Feature Film, and a Phoenix Film Critics Society nomination for Best Director. The film was also a huge box office success with over $46 million in earnings during its opening weekend. “The Curse of the Black Pearl” opened at No.1 at the box office and grossed more than $305 million in the domestic market. It eventually collected $654 million worldwide, making it the fourth highest grossing film of 2003.
In 2005, Verbinski directed Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis and Michael Rispoli in “The Weather Man.” With a screenplay by Steven Conrad, the film was a flop at the box office.
Verbinski was put back in the limelight when he directed the sequel to the highly successful “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” (2006). Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the film earned Oscar nominations in the categories of Best Art Direction, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing, and won the Oscar for Visual Effects. Despite receiving a mixed reception, the film was another big success at the box office and emerged as the third film ever to gross over $1 billion in the worldwide box office. It remains the fourth highest grossing film of all time behind “Avatar” (2009), “Titanic” (1997) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003). It also became the most financially successful film in Disney's history.
Verbinski returned to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series to direct the third film “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.” The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Makeup and Best Achievement in Visual Effects, but received mixed reviews from critics. It was a hit at the box office and became the highest grossing film of 2007 and the seventh highest grossing film worldwide.
Verbinski's new film, “Rango,” an animation film he also produced, is scheduled to be released in the U.S. on March 18, 2011. It will star Johnny Depp as the voice of Rango. Other cast members include Abigail Breslin, Alanna Ubach, Beth Grant and Maile Flanagan.
Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood Movie of the Year: “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” 2003
Clio Awards: 4
Cannes: Silver Lion