RAMPAGE Production Notes and High-Res Photos
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from an upcoming movie.
In 1993, a breakthrough new technology, known as CRISPR, gave scientists a path to treat incurable diseases through genetic editing.
In 2016, due to its potential for misuse, the U.S. Intelligence Community designated genetic editing a “Weapon of Mass Destruction and Proliferation.”
Global icon Dwayne Johnson headlines the action adventure RAMPAGE, directed by Brad Peyton.
Johnson stars as primatologist Davis Okoye, a man who keeps people at a distance but shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, incredibly rare albino silverback gorilla who has been in his care since he rescued the young orphan from poachers. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size.
To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals. As these newly created alpha predators tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with discredited geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.
RAMPAGE also stars Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (MOONLIGHT), Malin Akerman (TV’s BILLIONS), Jake Lacy (TV’s GIRLS), Joe Manganiello (TV’s TRUE BLOOD), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (TV’s THE WALKING DEAD); as well as P.J. Byrne (THE WOLF OF WALL STREET), Marley Shelton (TV’s RISE), Breanne Hill (TV’s FRONTIER), Jack Quaid (THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE), Matt Gerald (TV’s DAREDEVIL), Jason Liles (DEATH NOTE), Demetrius Grosse (TV’s THE BRAVE), and Will Yun Lee (TV’s HAWAII FIVE-O).
Peyton directed from a screenplay by Ryan Engle and Carlton Cuse & Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel, story by Ryan Engle.
RAMPAGE was produced by Beau Flynn, John Rickard, Brad Peyton and Hiram Garcia.
It marks the third collaboration between Johnson, Peyton, Flynn and Garcia, following the international blockbuster hit SAN ANDREAS, Warner Bros.’ highest grossing film of 2015, as well as 2012’s global smash JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. Executive producers were Marcus Viscidi, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Jeff Fierson, Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener and Michael Disco. The creative team includes director of photography Jaron Presant, production designer Barry Chusid, editors Jim May and Bob Ducsay, and costume designer Melissa Bruning. The music is composed by Andrew Lockington, who created the scores for SAN ANDREAS and JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. Serving as co-producers were Wendy Jacobson, Josh Mack and Dana Robin. The RAMPAGE creatures were brought to life by acclaimed VFX supervisor Colin Strause, with five-time Academy Award-winning visual effects company Weta Digital.
A New Line Cinema presentation, in association with ASAP Entertainment, a Wrigley Pictures / F.P.C. / 7 Bucks Entertainment production, a Brad Peyton Film, RAMPAGE will be distributed in 2D and 3D in select theaters, and IMAX, by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. This film has been rated PG-13.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
■ BIG MEETS BIGGER
“Last night, George was 7 feet and weighed 500 pounds. This morning he’s 9 feet and pushing 1000.” – Davis
Like movie fans around the world, RAMPAGE director/producer Brad Peyton loves to see Dwayne Johnson in terrifying, larger-than-life scenarios that require all his skill and strength, humor and charm, to overcome. Peyton has already placed his intrepid star under a volcano on a sinking island, and dropped him into the epicenter of a magnitude-9 earthquake. Now, in their third big-screen adventure — a movie that’s massive on every level—scale, scope, action and visual impact — Peyton ups the ante again by pitting Johnson against something he has never faced before: an antagonist even bigger than he is.
And not just one, but three — gargantuan, genetically mutating creatures, completely out of control, on a collision course with civilization.
Johnson is up for the challenge. “Brad and I are like a couple of kids when we get together on a project like this,” he says. “Art always reflects the artist, so I think fans can count on great action and great fun, and a fair amount of destruction. We always want to push things farther than we did before and to constantly raise that bar. Or possibly go over it.
“For me,” he adds, “just stepping on the set every day was like, okay, it’s 7 AM and my intensity level goes up to fifteen on a scale of one-to-ten, and it stays that way until the end of the day.”
“There were lots of ‘wow’ moments, and so many sets that just blew my mind,” adds Naomie Harris, who stars opposite Johnson as Dr. Kate Caldwell. “I’d never been in a helicopter or a plane that’s been recreated with hydraulic effects to tilt so that I’m hanging from a wire and flying around. That’s the wonderful thing about Brad and Dwayne, and the whole producing team. At the center of everything they want to make you feel that it’s all happening right here, right now, and that you’re really in the heart of the action. And that’s what the audience will see.”
Among the interests Peyton and Johnson share that factored into RAMPAGE are an affinity for movies about ferocious giant creatures and an affection for the classic video arcade game Rampage, featuring a trio of supersized creatures knocking down cities and running wild over the landscape. Also, the commitment to anchor this kind of outsized cinematic spectacle with a genuine story and characters.
Though the arcade game was the original spark of inspiration, it didn’t provide a lot beyond its pure and simple premise, which suited Peyton perfectly. “I was interested in the challenges and opportunities that came from the game,” he says, “but the fact that it had so little narrative allowed us to make our own movie, create our own monsters and explore our own themes. We paid homage to it in a fun and respectful way by utilizing its creatures and planting some Easter eggs for fans.”
In the film, what triggers the rampage is a secret bio-genetic experiment that goes off the rails, unleashing a gene-altering substance that causes animals to grow not only in strength and aggression, but in more frightening and unpredictable ways as they absorb volatile DNA from other species. The first casualty of this substance is George, an albino silverback gorilla housed at a California wildlife sanctuary. George is very special to Johnson’s character, Davis, a primatologist who rescued him from poachers, raised him, taught him to sign, and shares with him an unbreakable bond of friendship. So, when George turns overnight from a normal-sized, peaceful ape to a roaring, destructive colossus, Davis is determined to do whatever he has to do to keep George safe, while trying to figure out what is happening to him.
To accomplish that, he reluctantly accepts the help of Kate Caldwell, who knows more about what’s happening than she cares to reveal.
Johnson and Harris lead a strong ensemble cast, including Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a cagey government agent shadowing Davis and Kate’s progress throughout the crisis; Joe Manganiello as the leader of a top-notch mercenary unit who meet their unfathomable match in a Wyoming woods; and Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy as the billionaire siblings behind the rogue experiments, who are still intent on using this pathogen for their own ends.
Producer Beau Flynn, who has successfully teamed with Johnson on numerous projects, cites one of the ways in which he feels RAMPAGE stands apart from its genre: “Ordinarily, in this kind of movie you have a hero who is trying to stop the monstrous creatures at any cost and fight to the death to save the planet. I’ve rarely seen one where the hero is not only trying to save the world but, at the same time, trying to help and protect one of the combatants. In short, in most movies the hero is trying to destroy the creature; in ours, he’s trying to save it. Davis knows George never signed up for this. And not only does Davis want to keep him alive but, he might ultimately need George’s help in an epic monster battle yet to come — and that, to me, is fresh and exciting.”
The panic over George is further escalated by the appearance of two other shockingly transformed animals — first, a mammoth wolf that not only leaps great heights but is somehow able to fly, and, later, a crocodile the length of a football field and moving like a cruiser. Having had more exposure to the pathogen, they are exponentially larger and fiercer. Not only growing, but continuing to evolve, all three set off on a path of destruction toward Chicago.
Even so, the filmmakers sought to keep a fun and lighthearted tone in play, allowing ample opportunity for humor alongside the movie’s thrills and Kaiju-style battles, with plenty of one-liners delivered with Dwayne Johnson’s inimitable style.
Ryan Engle, who developed the story, and shares screenplay credit with Adam Sztykiel and SAN ANDREAS writers Carlton Cuse and Ryan J. Condal, says, “The challenge was how to tell a story about mutated animals that’s emotional, action-oriented, scary, and fun, and how to create a different kind of scenario. Rather than relying on size and scale, we wanted to include elements of speed and agility, and see these monstrous beings do things we haven’t seen before.”
Incorporating the idea of a plot to weaponize DNA — for which these three hapless beasts are the prototypes — introduces human villains behind the mayhem, and amplifies the danger to a global priority. Sztykiel, who also makes a cameo as a C-17 pilot, says, “There’s the immediate threat of more infected creatures on the loose. Were there other canisters not accounted for, and where did they land?”
As producer Hiram Garcia suggests, “What makes these creatures so interesting is that they’re hybrids, combining their own genetic makeup with traits of other animals to make them tougher and more dangerous fighters — for example, a gorilla that can regenerate tissue at the rate of a spiny mouse, or a wolf that develops webbing to allow it to soar through the air. Once you ground that premise, you say, okay, now what would happen if this technology gets into the wrong hands?”
While taking great liberties with the science, the CRISPR gene-editing program the film cites is, in fact, real. Originated in 1993, its goal is curing cancer and other diseases through modifications to an organism’s genetic code.
Johnson, also an executive producer on the film, concedes, “The science is fascinating. But we had to maintain that balance between delivering on a scientific perspective that makes sense and making sure we’re right around the next corner winking at the audience and letting them know we’re all in on this: hey, we’re making a big, fun movie about a crocodile with 1118 giant teeth, and a gorilla the size of a house, who likes to flip me off.”
Focusing on those stunning visuals, the filmmakers enlisted preeminent visual effects company Weta Digital to create the non-human RAMPAGE cast. Their input, Peyton attests, “was absolutely essential. We couldn’t have pulled off such an ambitious project without storytellers of their caliber. They are true artists. It was vital that we not only nail the design, but also the emotion and intent that comes through these creatures.”
The wolf and croc, born entirely of groundbreaking visual effects, take center stage without compromise. Says Flynn, “It was very important to us not to hide the creatures with scenes that take place at night, or in rain or under overcast skies. We wanted to show them in broad daylight, mutating and rampaging over the course of the film, and to juxtapose blue skies with the kind of havoc they’re causing.”
With George, they took a different approach. The great ape is an amalgam of Weta’s digital artistry and performance capture, with actor Jason Liles contributing the personality and humanity that will allow audiences to embrace George as a sentient being, and to ensure the credibility of his bond with Davis — who realizes he is as much a victim of his outrageous metamorphosis as the people now fleeing from him in fear. And even as the animal grows and changes, George remains the heart of the story.
“Right away, I knew the emotional core and through-line of the story was going to be their connection,” Peyton relates, “Because we place so much emphasis on it, all the other elements — the plane crashes and explosions and battles — have more value because now you care if someone is going to live or die, you care if Davis and George are going to be reunited. I always want to make things as exciting as possible, but, I feel, if you have the fun without the underpinning of real emotion and real stakes, it doesn’t have the same impact. You want to feel something; you want the full experience.
“The main themes of the movie are trust, and friendship,” he sums up, “and the lengths you would go to save your friend.” As the story unfolds, that turns out to be a formidable distance for them both.
Framing it in a way anyone can relate to, producer John Rickard observes, “Davis doesn’t understand why George is becoming more dangerous, to himself and the world around him. So, what’s he going to do? What would anyone do? I have a dog, myself, and if that dog got sick or lost, you couldn’t stop me from trying to find him and make it better, because he’s my family. That’s how Davis feels about George, and that’s the emotional factor that really grounds the story in a way that should ring true for a lot of people.”
Overall, in the story’s reach, in the sheer size and scope of the action and visual feast, the massive sets, massive creatures, everything about RAMPAGE echoes the idea of “big meets bigger.” It was the director’s intention, he says, “to imbed the audience in the events, as opposed to having them witness something that’s happening ‘over there.’ With this, I wanted people to feel that these scary things that are so big and move so quickly are all around them, all the time. I want to put them right into the action as much as possible.”
“What got me excited about RAMPAGE was the opportunity to create something epic,” adds Johnson. “What I mean by that is, we have not just one gigantic, amazing gorilla, we have an immense crocodile that comes out of the swamps of Florida, and an insanely big wolf from the Northwest…and then this big, bald, brown, tattooed guy running around with them,” he laughs. “The game was built on playing and tearing things up, and I think this pays homage to that idea. We set up the story and then suddenly, bang, you’re off; you’re on this ride and it’s all adrenaline.”
■ CAST AND CHARACTERS
“It’s weird that you like to hang with animals more than people.” – Nelson
“Yeah, well, animals get me.” – Davis
We meet Davis Okoye as a respected primatologist overseeing the ape habitat at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary. Although devoted to his work, generally easy to get along with and happy to share his knowledge with aspiring students, Davis makes no excuses for the fact that he prefers the company of animals to humans. He particularly abhors the self-serving deceptions with which he feels most people conduct themselves.
Johnson describes Davis as “a phenomenal character I loved playing. His history is that he led an anti-poaching unit of the United Nations, and that was after years of serving in multiple conflicts around the world as part of the Army Special Forces. So, considering all the things he’s seen in his life, he’s lost a lot of faith in mankind.”
Davis’s singular bond with George began when he found the baby gorilla hiding from poachers who had just killed his mother. As George was too vulnerable to survive in the wild, Davis brought the youngster to a new home in the sanctuary, where he has grown to maturity — a magnificent and stately ape with a deep well of compassion, a playful, communicative nature… and a wicked sense of humor.
“They’re a lot alike,” Peyton says, “They’re both funny, they’re both alpha males, and they’re both the biggest guy in every room.”
Knowing Johnson was cast as the hero was a boon to the screenwriters as they developed both characters, especially Cuse and Condal, having written for him on SAN ANDREAS. Condal relates, “We had his voice pretty well dialed in. He literally has an aura of charm around him and can do anything, so that gave us a lot of freedom. Dwayne brings incredible warmth to the relationship and helps make George a sympathetic character, which is so important.” As for George, he was never treated as anything less than a living being. Says Cuse, “Knowing that he was going to be a combination of CG and performance capture liberated us to go all out, to give George a really big, complex personality and actions.”
“I love working with Dwayne,” the director states. “He’s one of the best creative partners I’ve ever had; endlessly enthusiastic and inspiring. He’s always looking for ways to take a more active role and challenge himself, always looking to give his fans something more than they’re used to seeing. This time, he said, ‘I want to be more scared and beat-up than I’ve ever been in any other movie,’ which is not easy, considering the kinds of movies he makes.”
When his best friend is in trouble, Davis doesn’t enter the fray with a plan or even any confidence that he will prevail. Quite the contrary. He has no idea what he’s up against or how he’s going to do it. He just knows that George needs him, and it’s a call he can’t ignore. “Davis will go to any lengths to save George,” states Garcia. “It’s a journey that might ultimately bring him some redemption, too, as far as being able to trust people again, and that journey begins with his meeting Dr. Kate Caldwell.
“Kate has had her own tough experiences,” Garcia continues. “A brilliant scientist who tried unsuccessfully to save her brother’s life through genetic editing, she has seen her research applied in a way that has created monsters, so her emotional ties to this situation run parallel to Davis’s. They’re both trying to do the right thing, but taking different paths to get there.”
At first, though, Kate is the perfect example of what Davis means when he tells her that people will do anything to get what they want. She misleads him about the extent of her involvement, and her true interest in tracing this pathogen to its source. “He values honesty above all, and trust, so as soon as he discovers she’s been lying to him, he completely shuts her down and doesn’t want to have anything to do with her,” Harris says. “But then she tells him the awful story of what happened to her, and why she’s here, and it touches something deep inside him. That’s why he agrees to help.”
As an idealistic young scientist, Kate was courted by a bioengineering company called Energyne. Her employers, however, were secretly diverting her results into their own program of weaponizing DNA, the results of which have come to horrifying fruition. Kate is now convinced there must be a way to control these creatures, a kind of “off” switch, that she might find it if she can reach her former lab in time. For that, she needs Davis.
Says Rickard, “Casting the Kate role was crucial in many ways. We needed someone who could really step up and be a strong and able partner for Davis, someone who could bring a depth of compassion and understanding, and, most of all, someone who had the natural gravitas so that when she talked about the scientific and technical aspects of the story, you immediately believe her. Naomie brought all of that and more. She and Dwayne made a great team.”
“Her performance is really the glue that holds everything together,” Peyton adds. “She did a phenomenal job of leaping into the action showing equal parts fear and determination in the face of each new obstacle.”
For Harris, it was partly Peyton’s enthusiasm for the project that convinced her to take a role unlike anything she’s ever done. “I didn’t know what to expect, but the first time we talked about it, by the time I got off the phone I felt like I could rule the world,” she says. “And it was like that every single day on the set. I absolutely loved the script. I think part of it was that I fell in love with George, and the fact that you have this man who’s shut down when it comes to dealing with people but can open his heart to this extraordinary animal. Also, I liked how strong and intelligent Kate is, and overall just the playful tone of the action.”
But even as Davis and Kate join forces, George is already in custody: sedated and loaded onto a military transport plane, by order of Agent Russell, under the ambiguous umbrella of the OGA, or “Other Government Agency.” He invites them to join the party, with a congenial manner that does absolutely nothing to conceal his unquestionable authority.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who stars as Russell, says, “He’s so deep and well connected and powerful that no one has officially heard of him, and yet Agent Russell is the ultimate fixer. He’s the genuine article, just a big, undercover badass.”
“I love how Jeffrey played him so you don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy; you can’t pin him down,” says Peyton. “He wears a perfectly pressed suit with a Texas-style silver belt buckle and carries a gold-plated .45 with a pearl handle. He has an easygoing drawl but all the while he’s observing everything with a keen eye.”
“The belt buckle came from Brad,” Morgan concedes, though he was fully on board with the idea, and how it factors into the agent’s overall persona. “Russell is definitely a cowboy. When Russell walks into a room, he owns it. He has manners, like a good Southern gentleman, but also a sarcastic humor that he uses to cut people down, and a way of saying things that makes you sometimes wonder what his meaning really is.”
It was vital that Russell stand up to Davis and match his attitude, as their big personalities come into close conflict more than once and their interactions are always charged. “Dwayne is a formidable guy,” Morgan understates, “and I remember thinking, ‘The first time our characters meet, the best way for me to get up into his face. Go right up to him and lean in.’ Like poking the bear.”
Johnson agrees, saying, “Jeffrey brings that same swagger and machismo, but he does it with a smile and a cool wink, which is always more dangerous… and more entertaining.”
As unflappable as he appears, though, Russell is in for a Texas-sized surprise when his two-ton cargo suddenly awakens and decides he wants out. Now. In fact, all three gargantuan creatures are being called home by a high-frequency beacon and there’s nothing anyone or anything can do to stop them from getting there — whether they’re on the ground, in the water, or, in George’s case, 32,000 feet in the air.
Their target is Chicago, to the top of a tower in the downtown district. It’s the location of the fictional Energyne lab, in the Wyden Technologies offices of Kate’s former bosses, Claire and Brett Wyden, played by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy. Claire is calling her warriors home, believing she now holds the key to controlling them.
In a story centering around DNA, it’s laughable that these siblings could not be less alike. Claire, the brains of the outfit, is a laser-focused, self-serving paragon of evil and ego, while Brett is a queasier mix of greed and whining cowardice. He’s the kind of guy who’d like to rule the world so long as it doesn’t take him outside his comfort zone.
“Claire is smart and manipulative, such a wonderful character to play,” says Akerman. “She has her eye on the money and is really a little bit insane, especially when the creatures start to destroy the city and she couldn’t care less. Project Rampage is her baby, its success is what she lives for, and anyone or anything that stands in her way will die.”
Akerman further acknowledges, “Jake and I wondered why Claire hadn’t killed him off already because he doesn’t have much to offer the project or the company, but, I guess he’s the only family she has.”
In his character’s defense, Lacy says, “Brett grew up with money, which allowed him to behave as he wanted to behave, buy whatever he wanted and do whatever he wanted. He likes to party and buy yachts. As for Project Rampage, it’s not his hand on the controls. If he has any qualms about what they’re doing, apart from possibly going to jail, he likely wouldn’t do anything about it because he’s genuinely afraid of his sister.”
“Our villains are cold and depraved, but also fun,” says Peyton, who calls the pair “the ice queen and the bumbling brother. I had a real blast with them. She thinks this DNA thing is going to make her famous — her vision, her pride and joy. Meanwhile, Chicago is falling down around them and Brett is like, ‘Can we just get on a helicopter and get out of here?!’”
To stay outside the law, the Wydens have been conducting their covert research on a private space station, where they have absolute authority and the occasional misfire won’t come back to bite them. Literally. This time, when their latest experiment goes horribly awry, and the station explodes and crashes to Earth, raining down canisters of the latest-generation pathogen, it’s just the proof Claire needs to know that Project Rampage is a success. All that remains is to retrieve the samples.
Claire’s first call is to Burke, the confident, seen-it-all leader of a team of mercenaries Brett refers to as “Killers R Us.” Joe Manganiello, who plays Burke, says, “He’s been sent out to search for this object, so, to him, he may as well be going out to look for a milk carton; hardly a job worthy of his and his team’s skills. What he doesn’t know is that inside this thing was an experimental, pharmaceutical-grade mutagen, and that it opened on impact and has already caught the attention of an animal.”
What ensues is a frantic encounter in the Wyoming woods between Burke and his top men, armed to the teeth with advanced military gear, and a wolf the size of two double-decker buses and fast as a cannonball. To prepare, Manganiello and his castmates spent days jumping out of hard-banking helicopters, literally hitting the ground running, as their characters embark on what turns out to be the deadliest assignment of their careers.
“It’s really interesting working off of pre-vis. A lot of the big action sequences were done preliminarily on Brad’s iPad,” Manganiello reveals,” so, it’s like a video game from the 90s. You’re watching the team interact with this giant wolf and you can see it all, right down to the camera angles and the timing, per reaction, per shot. Our job is then to breathe life into what Brad has pictured in his brain.”
P.J. Byrne plays Nelson, Davis’s colleague at the wildlife sanctuary, who tries to help George in the early, bewildering stage of his transformation. “George has gotten into the grizzly bear enclosure and the bear — the most dangerous land animal in the world — has been killed, which is a scary thing for them to consider,” he details. “The walls are 20-feet high and that’s twice the height a gorilla can jump, so it seems impossible… until we see him, and realize he’s a lot bigger than he was a few hours ago.”
Rounding out the main cast, Marley Shelton turns in a physically demanding performance as Dr. Atkins, a research scientist aboard the Wyden’s doomed space station who fights to stay alive while her latest test subject runs dangerously amok, in a breathless opening scene that sets up the story. Breanne Hill and Jack Quaid appear as the center’s primatology students, Amy and Connor; Demetrius Grosse is beleaguered army colonel Blake, defending Chicago against elusive and unstoppable enemies that a day ago he could only have seen in his nightmares; Will Yun Lee is FBI Agent Park, closing in on the Wyden facility; and Matt Gerald is Zammit, one of Burke’s best men, tracking an animal whose pawprint is wide enough for a man to fall into.
“Every actor we cast brought great flavor and energy to their performances, from Dwayne and Naomie and the whole main cast, to every supporting role. Everyone really pops,” says Peyton.
“I rescued George when he was two years old. He’s not just a friend. He’s family.” – Davis
“I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the screen with a lot of phenomenal actors, but never a gorilla,” Johnson says.
For the film’s central relationship to ring true in a meaningful way, it was vital that audiences accept George as Davis does: a genuine personality, thoughtful, playful, loving and funny, or suddenly angry and frightened. For Peyton, that meant a performance-capture character through which an actor could convey the level of emotion to bring this animal fully to life on screen.
“I do a lot of effects-driven movies,” the director says, “but I’m still a big fan of shooting as much as I can in-camera. And since the most important dynamic in this movie is between Davis and George, to not build things around two actors in those roles seemed foolhardy. I want audiences to fall in love with George.” To that end, Peyton cast performance-capture actor Jason Liles, noting, “We took a scan of his face and put it into George, so George’s eyes are Jason’s eyes, George’s expressions are Jason’s expressions.”
One of the many benefits of this approach is the humor and light-heartedness Liles imbues in the character, especially in the beginning of the story. “George is like a teenager in many ways,” says renowned visual effects supervisor Colin Strause, reuniting here with Peyton after their SAN ANDREAS collaboration. “George is a prankster. He has a lot of private jokes with Davis and that’s something Jason very believably expresses. Despite George’s extraordinary physical transformation, you can’t treat him like a visual effect.”
Strause employed an optical capture system involving a surround-set of 32 cameras tuned to the reflective surfaces of the mo-cap suit as well as four so-called witness cameras, standard feature lenses used for backup reference. Watching the sequence play out on a screen, they then knew how big he would be compared to the other set pieces in a scene, to be sure all the movements sync up.
At times when Johnson, Harris, or another of the cast interacted with overgrown versions of George against a green-screen setup, Peyton would raise Liles onto a platform so they could maintain eye contact with him rather than with an inanimate placeholder.
Liles trained extensively with stunt performer and movement coach Terry Notary, known for the PLANET OF THE APES films, to learn how to sit, stand, and present himself like a gorilla — as much a psychological as a physical process, incorporating beats of stillness and the conscious use of energy. Additionally, Liles wore prosthetics to extend his forearms.
Complicating matters was the fact that the 6-foot, 9-inch actor was constantly adjusting for George’s evolving bulk. Peyton affirms, “Depending on whether you’re playing a 500-pound, a 1000-pound or an 18,000-pound gorilla, it changes how you move to represent that. “Beyond that, there’s the acting, and the pacing, as any other actor would do. It’s a lot to keep track of. Jason worked his butt off for us, he did a masterful job and it really paid off.”
Two months prior to production, the filmmakers reached out to Tara Stoinski, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, to consult about such things as personality and behavior, as well as to gain a greater understanding of the status of the species around the world. The Fossey foundation is attached to the Atlanta Zoo, which houses the country’s largest captive gorilla population. The filmmaking team spent time here as well, as did Liles, observing and consulting with additional experts.
Additionally, the production enlisted sign language coach Paul Kelly to teach Liles and Johnson what they needed to know, as this is how George converses with his human friend. Kelly also worked closely with Notary because gorillas signing is often modified and simpler, owing to their limited dexterity. For certain words that have no standard sign, like “poacher,” Kelly substituted something appropriate, like “hunter,” and then cut that to “hunt,” which would be enough for Davis and George to get their point across.
To offer input for the lab scenes’ layout and protocol, the filmmakers also brought in chemical and bioengineer James Dahlman, whose specialty was in vivo gene editing at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, as the production’s genetic lab tech advisor.
■ DESTINATION: CHICAGO
The film’s biggest set piece is the climactic battle that tears up 10 square blocks of a partially evacuated downtown Chicago as audiences have never seen—assuming they’ve never seen a gargantuan mutant crocodile scaling a skyscraper and a 13-ton airborne wolf shooting spines from its tail. “Using the CRISPR technology gave us a lot of creative latitude. Not only do we have three monstrous creatures in this movie, but they are continually growing and taking on new strengths and abilities that weren’t there to start with,” says Rickard.
At their peak growth, the ravenous wolf is 50 feet high and 85 feet long, weighing in at 13.8 tons, while the croc clocks in at 60.7 feet by 225, and an astonishing 150 tons, with jaws that crush through buildings and vehicles like they were cotton candy.
A significant amount of the battlefield was laid out to scale in physical sets across the 30-acre backlot of Third Rail Studios in Atlanta — formerly a GM assembly plant — which served as the production’s home base. The rest was digitally expanded. A team including renowned aerial cinematographer Fred North traveled to Chicago to capture detailed visuals around which the production then constructed their sets.
Weta Digital’s team, led by VFX Supervisor Erik Winquist, were exclusively responsible for the creatures, while Hydraulx VFX, co-founded by Colin Strause, handled almost everything else. The goal was for the actors to interact with CG monsters and great slabs of falling concrete, steel and glass as realistically as possible, with tangible foreground and mid-ground settings blending into deeper background extensions because, as much as Peyton commits to putting moviegoers into the thrill of the action, he likes to do the same for his cast.
When it came to the creatures attacking the tower where Davis and Kate are trapped with Claire and Brett Wyden, Strause says, “We built almost 70% of the rooftop. It had green screen all around it for the digital extensions but it was a three-and-a-half-story set, and the whole thing was engineered to shake. Everything moved.” In the scene where George is jumping up and tearing off the antenna, amidst an ongoing military assault with A-10 jet fighters, he says, “we were throwing real pieces of debris at the actors and it really looked like it was all coming down on them.”
Peyton recalls, “At one point, I turned to Dwayne and asked, ‘Have you ever done anything on this scale before?’ and he said ‘No, brother, I have never done anything like this.’ This is taking the training wheels off, pushing it to the limit, and let’s go for it.”
From the actors’ standpoint, Johnson says, “It was invaluable, because when there is visible destruction all around, twisted metal, concrete, and smoke machines, and a great crew to make sure everything is right and everything is safe, that’s as good as it gets for a performer. You’re in it. You’re experiencing it as much as you can within the world of acting.”
Strause, who worked closely throughout with director of photography Jaron Presant and production designer Barry Chusid — both fellow SAN ANDREAS alums — outlines some of the process involving Federal Plaza: “It’s an entire city block, plus side streets, and our backlot was large enough so we could lay it out to scale. We took the pre-viz and figured out where the humans would be — not the creature shots, because they were all digital — and mapped everyone’s path from an overhead view. The art department then broke it into regions, or islands, that we could rotate, and we worked with Barry to spread them out so Jaron could get the lighting and gear around them. They looked like completely disconnected pieces, but they were all parts of the puzzle.”
Further integrating the real and digital, Strause says, “We used a system called N-Cam, which is a little virtual camera system that attaches to the front of your film camera that can show you the CG extension in real time on the set. So, once you get it lined up, whenever you tilt up, you can see in the viewfinder the green screen with Dwayne, or the CG structures, or the animals, which is helpful because when you’re shooting a huge space with a very tall creature and small humans in the foreground, you have to make sure you won’t be looking at the creature’s knees in every shot. Dwayne is going to look amazing, but he has to look amazing with a 50-foot wolf and a 40-foot gorilla in the background, and if you can’t focus on everything at the same time you won’t be able to tie him into the action correctly.”
Chusid comments, “I love working with Brad because he’s so specific. We go from the script to the 3D model, and then move through that to figure out where his shots are and what’s achievable. We do boards and pre-viz, we build the set, and if there are stunts we have [supervising stunt coordinator] Allan Poppleton figuring out the choreography while we’re building it. We worked with Colin to position the creatures and everything we can’t see, and also with practical effects for things like the C-17 plane, because that’s a big plane and we have to build it somewhere and there’s not enough room on the stage.”
The plane was constructed on the studio’s backlot in both its full form and a truncated section that could turn on a gimbal to a 60-degree angle. In the scene, an explosion blows a huge hole in its side, causing the plane to nosedive with Davis, Kate, George, and an unconscious Agent Russell aboard.
With flames and other effects added in post, Peyton says, “I wanted to shoot as much as possible in camera, and then just enhance it in post. The actors and the stunt team were suspended from cables, and Dwayne ricochets around the plane from one precarious handhold to another while objects are flying past. We had massive fans blowing, that were so loud the cast and crew had to shout to be heard. It was very complex, especially with George running wild and all the rigging that required. It took months of planning, but was absolutely worth it.”
“Brad loves working with actors. He really listens. And when it comes to the technical side of things, he’s brilliant,” Flynn sums up. “He understands the camera, the lighting, the visual effects, every detail, and he prepares to the nth degree; he leaves nothing on the field. This is our third movie together, and I think he’s one of the best action directors in the business.”
For Peyton and the entire filmmaking team, the goal was to drive RAMPAGE with fun, thrills, immersive action and spectacle — a fitting homage to the game, executed on a massive scale. That was their mandate and inspiration from day one. But, amidst all that, they never lose sight of the central themes of trust, loyalty, and friendship, which are woven not only throughout the story but into the film’s score, from composer Andrew Lockington.
“The film moves through so many different moods: it’s funny, moving, scary; there’s adventure and peril. As a composer, to explore that breadth of emotion and contrast in the music is a real privilege,” says Lockington, marking his fourth feature with fellow Canadian Peyton.
Lockington incorporated some non-traditional elements, including The African Children’s Choir, and Japanese Taiko drums, as well as the striking vocalizations of howler monkeys he recorded in Costa Rica, about which he says, “If you put that through electronics and ring modulators and stretch it out, the sound is fantastic. Also, the video game had a sound effect whenever the gorilla would punch a building. That type of sound wouldn’t have made sense for the movie in its original form, but we synthesized our own 8-bit sound and incorporated it into the percussion.”
The score moves from the natural to more electronically influenced as the story progresses, reflecting how the modern world is modifying the animal world—with one exception being the connection between Davis and George. “When they’re together, the music returns to a specific theme, to help show that, despite all the chaos around them, they are united and nothing can get between these two best friends,” says Lockington.
Peyton, who began working with the composer in the early days of productions, says,” I try to see the movie entirely finished in my head before I roll camera, and that involves not just the visual but the auditory. I think a lot about how sound design and music impacts the storytelling. With RAMPAGE, we were building our own brand and defining our own world, and a large part of that was discovering what the music will sound like, so, for me, you can never have those discussions too early.
“What it all comes down to is the kind of experience and emotion you want to present,” he concludes. “With RAMPAGE, I believe audiences will get all the action they love to see from Dwayne Johnson, the biggest movie star in the world, and they’ll also see his heart. I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot to do, and going to the movies was my escape. It was a way to feel empowered and excited, and everything you want from a big movie on the big screen. That’s why I was such a huge fan as a kid, and that’s why I started making films.”
ABOUT THE CAST
■ DWAYNE JOHNSON (Davis Okoye / Executive Producer), with film revenues exceeding $3 billion worldwide, has solidified himself as a global box-office powerhouse in both film and television.
Always adding to his busy schedule, Johnson shows no sign of slowing down. In 2017, he starred in BAYWATCH; the 8th installment of the successful “Fast and Furious” franchise, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS; and JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, alongside Kevin Hart and Jack Black. In 2018, he can be seen in the fourth season of the HBO show BALLERS, directed by Peter Berg, as an ex-football star turned money manager, navigating life on the other side of the field. Johnson recently wrapped filming SKYSCRAPER, set to release July 13, 2018. Also on his upcoming slate, he is set to star in Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE, based on its hit theme park ride where a small riverboat takes a group of travelers on a journey filled with dangerous animals and reptiles.
Adding to a slew of tent-pole films, Johnson recently starred in the highest grossing live action comedy, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, opposite Kevin Hart, and lent his voice to the widely successful animated film MOANA. Johnson also starred in the 2015 summer blockbuster SAN ANDREAS.
In addition, Johnson’s production company, Seven Bucks Productions, recently teamed up with SPIKE TV to produce a monumental holiday event, ROCK THE TROOPS, a music and entertainment experience created to honor, inspire and captivate the brave men and women of America’s Armed Services. This compelling and modern tribute emanated from the historical Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and brought together A-list headliners from the worlds of music, comedy, and film. Seven Bucks also released a youth prison documentary, A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, for HBO which became the network’s #1 watched standalone special.
Among Johnson’s recent film credits are: FURIOUS 7, reprising his role as Agent Hobbs, alongside Vin Diesel; HERCULES, directed by Brett Ratner, where Johnson took on the title role; the dramatic thriller SNITCH, about a father who goes undercover for the DEA to free his imprisoned son; the comic book action-adventure G.I. JOE: RETALIATION, opposite Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum; the dramatic independent film EMPIRE STATE with Liam Hemsworth and Emma Roberts; PAIN & GAIN, alongside Mark Wahlberg; and major roles in FAST 5 and FAST AND FURIOUS 6, which grossed a combined $1.4 billion globally.
Johnson’s previous films include RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN; THE TOOTH FAIRY; PLANET 51; GET SMART; THE GAME PLAN; JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, which grossed over $325 million in 2011; BE COOL, the sequel to GET SHORTY, alongside John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Vince Vaughn; the 2004 remake WALKING TALL; and THE RUNDOWN, a critically acclaimed action comedy directed by Peter Berg and co-starring Sean William Scott, Rosario Dawson and Christopher Walken. Johnson was casted by Stephen Sommers in THE MUMMY RETURNS, which grossed more than $400 million worldwide. His character was so well received by Universal executives during dailies that they immediately planned a film based on his character, THE SCORPION KING which broke box office records in 2002 to become the greatest April opening of all time.
Johnson’s love of acting and desire to branch out led him to appear on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE four times, surprising many with his strength in comedy. He has garnered much critical acclaim and recognition for his range and diverse roles, and has been named Variety’s 2017 Second Highest Paid Actor in Hollywood, NAACP’s 2016 “Entertainer of the Year,” People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2016, and USA Today’s “2016 Movie Person of the Year,” as well as making Time Magazine’s 2016 Most Influential People, and The Hollywood Reporter’s Annual Power 100 List for 2016. On December 13, 2017, Johnson received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Hawaii, Johnson excelled as a high school All-American and subsequently as a star defensive lineman for the University of Miami Hurricanes, helping lead his team to a National Championship. Upon graduating from the University of Miami, Johnson followed in the footsteps of his WWE Hall of Fame father, Rocky Johnson, and grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, by joining the competitive sports entertainment world of the WWE. Within a seven-year period (1996-2003), his intense passion led to an extraordinarily successful career, breaking box office attendance records across the U.S. and setting pay-per-view buy rate records during that period as well. Johnson’s creation of “The Rock” became one of the most charismatic and dynamic characters the industry has ever seen. In March 2012, Johnson made a record-breaking return to the WWE where he crushed John Cena at Wrestle Mania XXVIII in Miami.
Johnson penned an autobiography, The Rock Says, which reached #1 on The New York Times Bestseller List shortly after its publication in January 2000. He also created The Rock Foundation in 2006, with a mission to educate, empower and motivate children worldwide through health and physical fitness. A dedicated philanthropist, Johnson is the current National spokesperson for the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Diabetes Aware Campaign. He is also a committed Celebrity Cabinet Member for The American Red Cross and serves as a National Celebrity Wish Ambassador for The Make-A-Wish Foundation. In 2008, the United States Congress and the United States Joint Leadership Commission recognized Johnson with the prestigious Horizon Award, the U.S. Congressional Award given to an individual in the private sector who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and provided opportunities for youth nationwide.
■ NAOMIE HARRIS (Dr. Kate Caldwell) was recently seen in Barry Jenkins’ stunning and critically acclaimed film, MOONLIGHT. This coming-of-age story spans two decades, as a young man grows up in the rough world of inner-city Miami. Harris was nominated for an Academy Award, as well as a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and BAFTA Award for her tour de force performance as his mother who loses her footing.
Harris will next star in director Andy Serkis’ feature adventure MOWGLI, alongside a cast cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett, in theatres beginning fall of 2018.
Harris reprised her role as Moneypenny in the latest installment of the James Bond franchise, SPECTRE, opposite Daniel Craig. She was first seen as Moneypenny in SKYFALL, directed by Sam Mendes, which won the 2013 BAFTA Film Award for Outstanding British Film and went on to be Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing film ever, with a worldwide box office of over $918 million.
In 2013, she appeared as Winnie Mandela in MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, opposite Idris Elba. She was nominated for two London Critics Circle Awards and an NAACP Image Award for her powerful performance.
Her further credits include: COLLATERAL BEAUTY, opposite Will Smith; OUR KIND OF TRAITOR, opposite Ewan McGregor; Antoine Fuqua’s SOUTHPAW, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal; THE FIRST GRADER; SEX & DRIGS & ROCK & ROLL; PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST; MIAMI VICE; AFTER THE SUNSET; 28 DAYS LATER; and the highly acclaimed BBC miniseries WHITE TEETH.
■ MALIN AKERMAN (Claire) was named one of Variety‘s “10 Actors to Watch” in 2007. The Swedish-Canadian actress has since been tearing up Hollywood with her sharp comedic timing and touching dramatic performances. She currently stars in the Showtime series BILLIONS, alongside Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, which just began its third season.
Akerman starred in the feature film FINAL GIRLS, in 2015, opposite Taissa Farmiga and Nina Dobrev, and had a role opposite Blythe Danner in 2015’s critically acclaimed film I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS. She appeared on the big screen in 2016 in MISCONDUCT, opposite Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino, as well as the independent film THE TICKET, opposite Dan Stevens and directed by Ido Fluk, which made its feature debut at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.
Akerman’s range is exemplified by her diverse body of work in film and television. In 2007, she starred alongside Ben Stiller in THE HEARTBREAK KID, directed by the Farrelly brothers, followed by the 2008 romantic comedy 27 DRESSES, directed by Anne Fletcher, and, a year later, joined Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in Fletcher’s THE PROPOSAL. In 2009, she was seen in the comedy COUPLES RETREAT, alongside Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman, and Jon Favreau, and co-starred in Zack Snyder’s blockbuster WATCHMEN, which opened at number one. She was seen in the 2010 Sundance Audience Award winner, HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE, with Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan and Josh Radnor, and, at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, Akerman shared the big screen with Ryan Philippe and Taylor Kitsch in Steven Silver’s THE BANG BANG CLUB.
In 2012, Akerman graced the big screen in WANDERLUST, with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston; sang alongside Tom Cruise, in the musical adaptation of the Broadway hit ROCK OF AGES; and starred in Sebastian Gutierrez’s nod to classic film noir, HOTEL NOIR.
No stranger to the small screen, Akerman made her breakthrough in 2005 on the HBO series THE COMEBACK, with Lisa Kudrow. She had a memorable recurring role on the third season of ENTOURAGE, as well ABC’s hit comedy SUBERGATORY; was seen in a special episode of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER; and starred in the third season of Adult Swim’s Emmy Award-winning medical drama parody, CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL. From 2013-2014 she starred as the title character of ABC’s comedy TROPHY WIFE.
Akerman enjoys volunteering for organizations such as the Environmental Media Association, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Opportunity International.
■ JAKE LACY (Brett Wyden) was raised in Vermont and graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts. This past year, apart from RAMPAGE, he completed work on three other feature films: DIANE, for director Kent Jones, JOHNNY ENGLISH III, and ODE TO JOY.
Lacy is a series regular on the Showtime’s I’M DYING UP HERE, co-executive produced by Jim Carrey, Michael Aguilar, Christina Wayne, and David Flebotte. He was last seen in John Madden’s political thriller MISS SLOANE, starring opposite Jessica Chastain, and THEIR FINEST HOUR AND A HALF, alongside Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy, for director Lone Sherfig.
His film credits include HOW TO BE SINCLE, alongside Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann and Rebel Wilson, and a co-starring role in LOVE THE COOPERS, alongside John Goodman, Diane Keaton and Olivia Wilde. Lacy also appeared opposite Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Todd Haynes’ CAROL, which received Best Picture nominations from the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and San Francisco Critics Circle Awards. The film was also included in numerous Best of 2015 film lists, including Los Angeles Times, Indie Wire, and Slate.
In 2014, Lacy starred opposite Jenny Slate in the romantic comedy OBVIOUS CHILD, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and made many Best of 2014 film lists. He also starred in the film INTRAMURAL, which premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. Lacy led a cast that included Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett, and Nick Kocher, among others.
Lacy is best known for his roles as Fran in season five of the hit HBO series GIRLS, opposite Lena Dunham, and as Pete on the ninth and final season of NBC’s THE OFFICE. He and the rest of the cast were nominated for a 2013 Screen Actors Guild Award for best Ensemble in a Comedy.
■ JOE MANGANIELLO (Burke) is a diversely talented actor whose range can be seen on display throughout his career. The Pittsburgh native recently starred opposite Paul Rubens in the Netflix comedy PEE WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY and as the voice of the heroic and lovable Hefty Smurf in the animated reboot SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE.
Manganiello just completed principal photography on the feature film STANO, in the title role of Sonny Stano, a man who returns to the Bronx after serving 17 years in prison for a violent mistake he made as a kid, that ultimately robbed him of a professional baseball career and the love of his life. His production company 3:59 is producing the film.
A graduate of The Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, Manganiello periodically returns to his theater roots. In the summer of 2010 he played the role of Leo Belraggio in the West Coast premiere of Terrence McNally’s “Unusual Acts of Devotion,” at The La Jolla Playhouse. It was a role he workshopped with the legendary writer at the Ojai Playwright’s festival the summer prior. Then, in Fall 2013, he played the iconic Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee William’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” at the Yale Repertory Theater.
Also in 2013, Simon & Schuster published Manganiello’s first book, Evolution, to rave reviews. In it, he shares the lifetime of experience and research in terms of diet, cardio, and anatomy, that named him one of Men’s Health’s 100 Fittest Men of All Time. The book continues to sell out across the country.
Manganiello was previously best known for playing fan-favorite character Alcide Herveaux, the protective, big-hearted werewolf, on HBO’s critically acclaimed series TRUE BLOOD. Before TRUE BLOOD, he appeared in a variety of television and film roles, such as starring in David Ayer’s action drama SABOTAGE alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington; the ensemble comedy WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING; playing Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN; and showing off his comedic chops and impeccable timing on several seasons of the Emmy Award-nominated CBS show HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER.
Manganiello also starred as Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh’s MAGIC MIKE and MAGIC MIKE XXL. Between the two films, Manganiello stepped behind the camera to self-finance and direct the documentary LA BARE, which debuted at the Slamdance Film Festival and sold that same evening to territories around the world, including Netflix and Showtime. For his work on the film, Manganiello was given the Triple Threat Award at the 2014 Maui International Film Festival.
■ JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN’s (Agent Russell) charisma, undeniable charm and versatility have landed him a variety of prestigious films and television series, working alongside award-winning actors and filmmakers. Having worked nonstop the past few years, Morgan continues to capture the attention of Hollywood and has emerged as one of the industry’s most sought-after leading men.
Morgan began his career in television. In 2005 and 2006, he endeared himself to television audiences worldwide with three concurrent recurring roles: on the CW series SUPERNATURAL, as John Winchester, on the ABC hit series GREY’S ANATOMY, as transplant patient Denny Duquette, and on Showtime’s award-winning comedy series WEEDS, as Judah Botwin.
He then starred in the feature film P.S. I LOVE YOU, with Hilary Swank and he captivated genre fans when he starred in WATCHMEN as Edward Morgan Blake/The Comedian, for director Zack Snyder, which was an adaptation of the iconic graphic novel. Morgan then went on to star in THE LOSERS, an adaptation of Vertigo’s acclaimed comic book series, produced by Joel Silver and directed by Sylvain White, and in Ang Lee’s film TAKING WOODSTOCK. He then appeared in the murder mystery THE TEXAS KILLING FIELDS, with Sam Worthington, Chloe Moretz and Jessica Chastain.
Morgan’s additional feature film credits include PEACE, LOVE & MISUNDERSTANDING, alongside Catherine Keener, Jane Fonda and Elizabeth Olsen, for director Bruce Beresford; the thriller THE POSSESSION, with Kyra Sedgwick, for producer Sam Raimi; RED DAWN, the reboot of the 1984 action movie; THE SALVATION, with Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival; HEIST, alongside Robert DeNiro; SOLACE, opposite Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell and Abbie Cornish; DESIERTO, alongside Gael García Bernal; and, in 2016 he reteamed with Zack Snyder when he made a cameo appearance in BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.
In 2012, Morgan starred as hotel owner Ike Evans in the critically acclaimed Starz series MAGIC CITY, which depicted mob life in 1950s Miami.
More recently, he starred alongside Halle Barry in the second season of the CBS series EXTANT, created by Mickey Fisher and produced by Steven Spielberg; in the Emmy nominated History Channel miniseries TEXAS RISING, with Bill Paxton and Ray Liotta, which depicted the Texas Revolution against Mexico; and in the final season of the award winning CBS series THE GOOD WIFE, in which he portrayed freelance investigator Jason Crouse.
Morgan made his debut in the final episode of Season 6 of the hit AMC series THE WALKING DEAD as the infamous antagonist Negan. His performance in this episode earned him a 2016 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series. He reprised his role in Season 7, for which he won Best Villain at the 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards and can currently be seen starring in Season 8.
■ P.J. BYRNE (Nelson), a graduate of Boston College with a double major in finance and theatre, and an M.F.A. in Acting from the prestigious Theatre School at DePaul University, has compiled a long list of impressive film and television credits. Most recently, Byrne was seen in THE 15:17 TO PARIS, marking the second time he has worked with Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood. He also recently wrapped production on GREEN BOOK, with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, for writer/director Peter Farrelly.
In 2014, Byrne starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET for Martin Scorsese, and teamed up again with the famed director in 2016’s VINYL, for HBO. He also can be seen on HBO’s BIG LITTLE LIES, with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, and on the Showtime series I’M DYING UP HERE, staring Melissa Leo. Byrne will soon star with Kevin Bacon in the upcoming SyFy Channel series TREMORS, a reboot of the film in which a small town is gripped with fear over giant underground worms living beneath them.
Renowned for his pivotal role in HORRIBLE BOSSES, opposite Jason Bateman, Byrne has also played opposite Steve Carell in DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, Zach Galifianakis in THE CAMPAIGN, Harrison Ford in EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES, Tom Hanks in Mike Nichols’ CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman in Nora Ephron’s BEWITCHED, Jack Black in Michel Gondry’s BE KIND, REWIND, Jim Carrey in BRUCE ALMIGHTY, and Clint Eastwood in BLOODWORK. Byrne was very well received for his starring role in the 5th installment of the phenomenally successful “Final Destination” franchise, as his character meets one of the more unusual demises ever in the series of sci-fi horror films.
Byrne is also adding writer to his resume, having recently sold BROTHERS OF THE BRIDE, a feature film that he will co-write and star in.
His additional television credits include the fan-favorite role of driven sports agent Irv Smiff in the ongoing BET hit series THE GAME. In addition to his on-screen roles, Byrne also voices Bolin in the Emmy-nominated Nickelodeon series THE LEGEND OF KORRA, now entering its third season, and received a Behind The Voice Award for his portrayal. He is currently the voice of Firestorm in Cartoon Network hit JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION.
Byrne was born in Maplewood, New Jersey and raised in Old Tappan, New Jersey.
■ MARLEY SHELTON (Dr. Atkins) was born and raised in Los Angeles, where she studied Film and Theatre at UCLA. She is currently appearing in the NBC television musical drama RISE, which premiered in March.
After several early television and film appearances, Shelton earned supporting roles in Lawrence Kasdan’s GRAND CANYON and THE SANDLOT. In Oliver Stone’s Oscar-nominated NIXON, Shelton appeared as Nixon’s eldest daughter, Patricia. She then captured the attention of filmgoers playing Toby Maguire’s love interest in PLEASANTVILLE.
The 2001 hit black comedy SUGAR & SPICE marked Shelton’s breakout starring role as Diane Weston, a cheerleader who becomes pregnant with the star quarterback’s child, only to find herself turning to a life of crime to support her material lifestyle. In the same year, Shelton starred in the teen suspense thriller VALENTINE. She next starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the comedy BUBBLE BOY, followed by a supporting role in UPTOWN GIRLS, alongside Brittany Murphy.
After appearing in indie adventure-comedy GRAND THEFT PARSONS, Shelton worked with director Wim Wenders on DON’T COME KNOCKING. In 2008, she collaborated a second time with Oliver Stone in W, his acclaimed satiric chronicle of George W. Bush. She continued to round out her impressive filmography with a series of Robert Rodriguez- and Quentin Tarantino-helmed films: SIN CITY, PLANET TERROR, and DEATH PROOF. Shelton gave an unforgettable performance in Jonathan Parker’s independent feature, (UNTITLED), which received widespread critical recognition. She subsequently appeared in the acclaimed horror film SCREAM 4, and was seen in Sebastian Gutierrez’s ensemble comedy WOMEN IN TROUBLE, which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival. She also appeared in the Tim Chambers-directed film THE MIGHTY MAC, as Sister Sunday, a nun at an all-girls Catholic college in the 1970s.
Shelton matched these theatrical successes with a slate of memorable television appearances. She starred in the lead role of Rachel Young in Jerry Bruckheimer’s CBS show ELEVENTH HOUR. She followed with a guest role in the sixth season of MAD MEN. and, recently, starred as a series regular in the Lifetime speculative fiction series THE LOTTERY. Shelton also co-produced and starred as an agoraphobe who finds solace in a blow-up doll in the black comedy short film PROTECT-O-MAN directed by her father, Christopher Shelton.
■ JASON LILES (George) grew up in in Germantown, Tennessee. He and his older brother, Jordan, were film fanatics from an early age and, as kids, acted on that fanaticism by making dozens of short films.
After several years of training and working in New York, Liles moved to Los Angeles to focus on film, quickly booking his very first gig playing the iconic role of Ryuk in the wildly popular Netflix adaptation of DEATH NOTE.
Following his work on DEATH NOTE, Liles was selected for the role of George and dedicated himself to a full six months of preparation: studying gorillas’ physicality, their psyche, their modes of both vocal and non-vocal communication, and training on ape arm extensions in the Santa Monica Mountains under the guidance of King Kong himself, Terry Notary.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
■ BRAD PEYTON (Director / Producer) marks his third collaboration directing Dwayne Johnson with RAMPAGE, following the 2015 blockbuster SAN ANDREAS which grossed $473 million worldwide and was the highest grossing original film of the year, and the hit film JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, which grossed nearly $335 million globally.
Born in Newfoundland, Canada, Peyton graduated from the Canadian Film Centre. He first gained accolades in 2002 with his black comedy short EVELYN: THE CUTEST EVIL DEAD GIRL. He then produced the CBC claymation series WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING ALONE. In 2010 came the release of Peyton’s first full-length feature, CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE, which combined live action with CG animation.
In 2012, Peyton directed the global hit sequel to JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, entitled JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, starring Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzmán, and Kristin Davis. Next, Peyton followed with the earth-shattering global blockbuster SAN ANDREAS, starring Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, and Paul Giamatti, which became the highest-grossing Warner Bros/New Line film of 2015. His upcoming film proejcts include JUST CAUSE, based on the popular video game, and EPOCH INDEX, inspired by the sci-fi novella.
On the television side, with producing partner Jeff Fierson and through their production company ASAP Entertainment, Peyton creates and develops action and elevated genre projects in the television and digital spaces through their multiyear first-look deal with eOne. Peyton and Fierson recently completed the third season of the Netflix/Discovery series FRONTIER starring Jason Momoa, and are developing for Syfy THE WOODS, an hour-long science fiction drama based on Boom! Studios’ flagship graphic novel series.
■ BEAU FLYNN (Producer), founder of FlynnPictureCo., has been a film and television producer for over 20 years. During that time, he has produced more than 32 films that have grossed over an outstanding $2.4 billion at the worldwide box office. Through his dynamic FlynnPictureCo. (FPC), Flynn focuses on high-concept, tentpole studio films created for the global audience. FPC is under a three-year overhead deal with New Line Cinema/Warner Bros., where the banner has had a deal for over ten years.
Flynn is currently in pre-production on Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE, based on the iconic theme park ride, which begins shooting in May of this year. This is Flynn’s seventh collaboration with Dwayne Johnson, who also stars with Emily Blunt. Jaume Collet-Serra is directing.
Later this year Universal/Legendary will release Flynn’s latest production, action-thriller SKYSCRAPER, from writer and director Rawson Marshall Thurber, which stars Johnson once again.
After JUNGLE CRUISE, Flynn, Johnson, and Thurber will collaborate in 2019 when they film RED NOTICE, an international action-thriller, for Universal.
Flynn’s 2015 release, SAN ANDREAS, based on his own original idea, was New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.’ most successful film of the year, grossing $475 million worldwide. A few of FPC’s more recent titles include: BAYWATCH, HERCULES, HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, THE RITE and JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, the first film ever produced in HD3D. The technology created for that film is the direct precursor of the technology used worldwide in 3D filmmaking today.
Some highlights of FPC’s future projects include: AN INCIDENT AT FORT BRAGG, a supernatural thriller based on a true story; STILLWATER, an original sci-fi thriller; THE 37TH PARALLEL and SEVEN WONDERS, both based on Ben Mezrich novels; and ROAD TO OZ, a biography of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz.
Earlier in Flynn’s career, he produced such critically acclaimed independent films as REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, TIGERLAND and CHOKE. His first job in the industry was as executive assistant to multiple Academy Award-winning producer Scott Rudin, who is the only producer to ever win an Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy.
Flynn has been an active member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America for over eighteen years.
■ JOHN RICKARD (Producer) is the principal of his production company Wrigley Pictures, which has a first-look deal at New Line Cinema.
His producing credits include Seth Gordon’s hit comedy HORRIBLE BOSSES and its sequel, HORRIBLE BOSSES 2, both starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx; the 2010 remake of the horror thriller A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET; the Farrelly brothers’ comedy HALL PASS, starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis; the horror film FINAL DESTINATION 5; Bryan Singer’s action adventure JACK THE GIANT SLAYER; the romantic comedy HOW TO BE SINGLE, starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann; and the comedy FIST FIGHT, starring Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, and Kumail Nanjiani.
Rickard most recently produced the teen romance movie MIDNIGHT SUN, starring Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Rob Riggle.
■ HIRAM GARCIA (Producer) is the President of Production at Seven Bucks Productions. A trusted collaborator in the production process to Seven Bucks co-founders Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, Hiram oversees all film operations from development to release, in addition to producing projects, and ensuring the team’s mission of creating inspirational and motivational content for a global audience is achieved.
Garcia serves as a producer on Seven Bucks Productions tent-pole movies, including JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE the upcoming SKYSCRAPER, JUNGLE CRUISE, and “Untitled Fast & Furious Spin-Off,” BAYWATCH, and FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY. His other film credits include such box-office hits as FURIOUS 7 and THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, and SAN ANDREAS. Garcia has been instrumental in growing and producing Seven Bucks’ roster of television projects, which include HBO’s most-watched half-hour series, BALLERS, HBO’s #1 stand-alone documentary special, A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, CNN’s SOUNDTRACKS: SONGS THE DEFINE HISTORY and Fuse’s CLASH OF THE CORPS.
Prior to joining Seven Bucks Productions, Garcia served as consulting writer for WWE’s THE ROCK (2011-2013). Garcia was born and raised in New Jersey and is a graduate of the University of Miami, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business and Entertainment. He currently resides in Fr. Lauderdale, Florida.
■ RYAN ENGLE (Screenplay / Story) most recently wrote THE COMMUTER, starring Liam Neeson and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Before that, Engle collaborated with Collet-Serra on the Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore film NON-STOP, which grossed almost $200 million worldwide.
In 2018, Engle also has BREAKING IN, starring Gabrielle Union and produced by Will Packer, to be released in May.
■ CARLTON CUSE (Screenplay) is one of the most successful showrunners in television. Working variously as a creator, writer, producer and director, he currently has three series in production: TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN for Amazon, LOCKE & KEY on Hulu, and COLONY on USA. His recent credits include BATES MOTEL for A&E, and THE STRAIN for FX.
Cuse wrote the screenplay for Dwayne Johnson’s prior film, SAN ANDREAS, which was Warner Bros. Pictures’ highest grossing movie of 2015.
Cuse grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and Orange County, California. He attended Harvard University, graduating with a degree in American History. In 2004, Cuse teamed with Damon Lindelof as showrunner, writer, and executive producer for all six seasons of LOST on ABC, winning many awards along the way. While overseeing LOST, Cuse also pioneered the development of the first transmedia content made in conjunction with a television series.
Cuse started his career in feature films, helping to develop the stories and screenplays of a number of major studio releases, before migrating to television — first as a writer on the Michael Mann series CRIME STORY, and then as co-creator and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Fox series THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY JR. He went on to create and executive produce the highly rated CBS show NASH BRIDGES, starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin, which ran for six seasons and 121 episodes, cementing his status as a series creator and showrunner.
Cuse has received ten Emmy Nominations for his work and has won two Emmys: for Best Drama Series and for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media. Among his other honors, Cuse has won a Golden Globe, a Peabody Award, a Producers Guild Award, three AFI Awards, The Jules Verne Award, four Saturn Awards, The Saturn Legacy Award, a Writers Guild Award, the Variety Creative Leadership Award and the People’s Choice Award.
In 2010, Cuse was named to Time magazine’s annual List of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
■ RYAN J. CONDAL (Screenplay) was raised in the cinemas of New Jersey, on the films of his bearded heroes: John Milius, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron. Later, he came to Hollywood in 2006 with a bunch of scripts that no one would read and a dream: to write movies that honored those of his spiritual forebears. In 2013, that dream became a reality with his first Dwayne Johnson movie: HERCULES.
Condal has since had a long and fruitful relationship with writer Carlton Cuse, with whom he co-created the USA series COLONY. RAMPAGE is their most recent collaboration.
■ ADAM SZTYKIEL (Screenplay) made his debut writing the 2008 movie MADE OF HONOR, starring Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan. He went on to write the 2010 comedy DUE DATE, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, as well as 2015’s ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP.
For television, he was the creator and executive producer of the NBC sitcom UNDATEABLE, which ran for three seasons from 2014-2016, starring Chris D’Elia and Ron Funches.
■ MARCUS VISCIDI’s (Executive Producer) recent credits as a producer include FIFTY SHADES DARKER and FIFTY SHADES FREED. He previously executive produced the box office hit FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan; the comedy, HOW TO BE SINGLE, starring Johnson, Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann; the hit comedy WE’RE THE MILLERS, starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Will Poulter and Emma Roberts; the family adventure JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, starring Dwayne Johnson; the romantic comedy SEX AND THE CITY 2, reuniting Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon; GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST, starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner; and PRIDE AND GLORY, starring Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight.
Earlier, Viscidi produced the political thriller RENDITION, starring Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep; THE LAST KISS, starring Zach Braff; SHOPGIRL, the adaptation of Steve Martin’s novel, starring Martin and Claire Danes; and WICKER PARK, starring Josh Hartnett. He also served as executive producer on William Friedkin’s THE HUNTED, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, and on Richard Linklater’s BAD NEWS BEARS, starring Billy Bob Thornton.
Viscidi earned a 1996 Independent Spirit Award nomination for producing Tom DiCillo’s award-winning film LIVING IN OBLIVION, starring Steve Buscemi, and went on to collaborate with DiCillo on his films THE REAL BLONDE, DOUBLE WHAMMY and BOX OF MOONLIGHT, starring John Turturro and Sam Rockwell. His additional feature producing credits include John Schlesinger’s THE NEXT BEST THING, starring Madonna and Rupert Everett; MAD LOVE, starring Drew Barrymore and Chris O’Donnell; Horton Foote’s COURTSHIP; Daniel Petrie’s ROCKET GIBRALTAR, starring Burt Lancaster; SIGNS OF LIFE, starring Vincent D’Onofrio; and LEMON SKY, the film adaptation of Lanford Wilson’s play, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
For television, Viscidi’s producing credits include the Showtime hit BILLIONS, starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, the American Playhouse production of Katherine Anne Porter’s NOON WINE, and Eudora Welty’s THE WIDE NET, as well as the film adaptation of Keith Reddin’s off-Broadway play “Big Time.” In 1998, he produced the Tony Award-nominated Broadway production of “Honour,” starring Jane Alexander and Laura Linney.
■ DANY GARCIA (Executive Producer) has quickly become a powerhouse in Hollywood, redefining what it is to be a chairwoman. Garcia is a multi-faceted visionary — producer, businesswoman, professional athlete, wife, and mom.
As founder and CEO of The Garcia Companies, a global talent and media management enterprise, she oversees such talent as Dwayne Johnson and Henry Cavill. In addition, she serves as co-founder and oversees Seven Bucks Productions to include TV, film, digital studios, and, in 2017, the launch of Seven Bucks Creative. Garcia and her all-female executive team work closely with their clients to achieve their goals in every facet of their careers, including the building of their brand that crosses all mediums.
As Dwayne Johnson’s producing partner, Garcia has worked unwaveringly to help create his multi-billion-dollar box office, constantly generating international opportunities that elevate all aspects of his career — as an actor, producer and businessman. Garcia continues to build a brand that defies limitations. Their innovative global approach to all that they do has resulted in world-wide success unparalleled by any other actor today.
Quickly following the success of the feature film BAYWATCH, starring Johnson and Zac Efron, Garcia and her Seven Bucks banner served as executive producers on JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, which unwaveringly remained at the top of the domestic and international box office and has currently grossed more than $850 Million. The company’s upcoming feature films include SKYSCRAPER, JUNGLE CRUISE, and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Garcia recently teamed up with SPIKE TV to produce a monumental holiday event, ROCK THE TROOPS, a music and entertainment experience created to honor, inspire and captivate the brave men and women of America’s Armed Services. This compelling and modern tribute emanated from the historical Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and brought together A-list headliners from the worlds of music, comedy, and film. In addition, Garcia continues to executive produce the HBO comedy BALLERS, alongside Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg, which is about to enter into its 3rd season.
In 2016, Garcia and Johnson expanded their Seven Bucks Productions to include a digital channel. The growth of the channel was examined by a Harvard Business School case study, as it has become the fastest growing digital channel on YouTube.
Balancing over 50 other projects in development while simultaneously managing a diverse roster of talent, Garcia earned a spot in Variety’s 2016 Power of Women Report. In 2015, she was selected by Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) as a guest panelist for their Profiles on Champions, which brought together over 1,000 female media leaders for a motivational and empowering discussion on the traits of successful athletes who have trained their bodies and minds for competitive high performance and challenging environments. Garcia herself competes as a professional IFBB Pro Women’s Physique Bodybuilder and brought her expertise as an athlete, female role model, and media executive to the powerful discussion.
In 2008, she founded The Beacon Experience, a foundation that identifies promising but at-risk second graders in inner city schools and, through her personal funds, empowers them throughout their lifelong education with weekly tutoring and full paid scholarships for college. Further signifying her belief in the importance of education, Garcia continues to support her alma mater by serving on the University of Miami Board of Trustees and as President of the University of Miami Alumni Association.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Garcia moved to Florida where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International Marketing and Finance from the University of Miami School of Business. Following graduation, Garcia took a job at Merrill Lynch, using the experiences there to increase her knowledge of financial tools and eventually becoming Vice President of the company before founding her own private wealth management firm, JDM Partners LLC. Garcia continues to be an active angel investor, using her wealth of experience to identify and invest in groundbreaking entrepreneurs and business start-ups.
Garcia and her husband, Dave Rienzi, split their time between Florida and Los Angeles.
■ JEFF FIERSON (Executive Producer). Before partnering with Brad Peyton and forming their company, ASAP entertainment, Fierson had worked for over a decade as a development executive in both live action and animated features. It was while working as executive vice president of development for Strange Weather Films and for Reel FX Animation Studio, that Fierson met Peyton and hired him to write the feature films DAYBREAK and MONUMENT 14.
Currently, Fierson and Peyton are developing and creating elevated action and genre television and digital projects for a global audience via their first look deal with eOne. They are in production on the third season of their Netflix Original series FRONTIER, starring Jason Momoa, on which Fierson serves as executive producer, and are developing THE WOODS, an hour-long science-fiction drama based on Boom! Studios’ flagship graphic novel series for Syfy Network.
Fierson’s upcoming films include THE EXPANSION PROJECT, BLACK HOLE at STX, with Peyton attached to direct; RUTHLESS at Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners; JUST CAUSE, based on the franchise video game with Jason Momoa attached to star; and THE EPOCH INDEX, based on the novella and which Peyton and Fierson recently sold in a competitive bidding war. Fierson is also serving as an executive producer on the recently acquired animated feature MONSTER IN THE HILL.
■ TOBY EMMERICH (Executive Producer) serves as Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, including Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, with oversight of the studio’s global theatrical production, marketing and distribution operations. Warner Bros. Pictures Group operates with the mandate to deliver the industry’s most diverse film slate, working across all genres with both established and up-and-coming talent in front of and behind the camera. In addition to heading the film division, Emmerich is also charged with steering Warner Bros.’ live stage play division, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures. In both roles, he reports directly to Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Warner Bros.
Emmerich previously served as President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. During his tenure, Warner Bros. Pictures Group had its most successful year ever in 2017, releasing the record-breaking phenomenon IT, based on the iconic Stephen King novel; the hit ANNABELLE: CREATION, which boosted the Conjuring cinematic horror universe over the $1 billion-dollar mark worldwide and cemented its status as the highest grossing horror franchise in history; as well as the Academy Award-winning DUNKIRK; and DC Universe global blockbusters WONDER WOMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Prior to this role, Emmerich served as President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema. Under his leadership, New Line released such diverse features as the Academy Award-winning blockbuster THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING; the perennial holiday classic ELF; the romantic favorite THE NOTEBOOK; the action thriller SAN ANDREAS; comedy hits CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, WE’RE THE MILLERS and HORRIBLE BOSSES; and instant horror classics LIGHTS OUT, THE CONJURING, THE CONJURING 2 and ANNABELLE.
Nearly a decade after “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy swept the world, New Line reunited with Peter Jackson to take audiences back to Middle-earth with the acclaimed “The Hobbit” Trilogy, beginning with THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, which took in more than a billion dollars worldwide, followed by THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG a year later, and THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES in 2014. The three films together earned almost $3 billion worldwide. Emmerich previously held the position of President of Production, to which he was promoted in 2001. A longtime studio veteran, he also previously served not only as President of New Line Music, but also as an accomplished screenwriter and producer who wrote and produced New Line’s sleeper hit FREQUENCY, starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel.
Emmerich joined the company in 1992 as a dual development and music executive. In his position as President of Music, he oversaw the development of numerous platinum- and gold-selling soundtracks for such films as SE7EN, the first two “Austin Powers” films, ELF, and many more. Prior to his posts at New Line, Emmerich was an A&R representative at Atlantic Records from 1987 to 1992.
Emmerich attended The Calhoun School and Wesleyan University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1985, with honors in English and concentrations in Classics and Film.
■ RICHARD BRENER (Executive Producer) is President & Chief Creative Officer of New Line Cinema. In this role, he oversees all aspects of development and production for New Line’s film slate.
During his tenure, Brener has overseen and served as Executive Producer on many of the company’s most successful films including the record-breaking IT, global blockbusters SAN ANDREAS, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, LIGHTS OUT, WE’RE THE MILLERS, HORRIBLE BOSSES, SEX AND THE CITY, WEDDING CRASHERS, AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER, THE WEDDING SINGER, and the “Final Destination” franchise. Brener also supervised the launch of the billion-dollar “The Conjuring” cinematic horror universe which includes THE CONJURING, and THE CONJURING 2, as well as companion films and ANNABELLE and ANNABELLE: CREATION. Most recently, he served as an executive producer on the comedy GAME NIGHT, starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams.
Brener’s upcoming projects include Melissa McCarthy’s LIFE OF THE PARTY; TAG featuring an ensemble cast that includes Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson and Hannibal Buress; and THE NUN, the next installment in the “Conjuring” universe.
A New Line Cinema veteran of over 20 years, Brener joined the company as a temp and rapidly rose through the ranks, from Story Editor to President & CCO. Over the course of his career, Brener has overseen the studio’s relationships with much of its key talent, including Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Aniston, Will Ferrell, and Ice Cube.
Born and raised in Short Hills, New Jersey, Brener graduated with a B.A. in History from Yale University.
■ MICHAEL DISCO (Executive Producer) is a development executive who has been with New Line Cinema since 2000 and currently serves as Executive Vice President of Production for the division.
Disco recently executive produced the comedy GAME NIGHT, starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, as well as Golden Globe-winner THE DISASTER ARTIST. His other credits include GOING IN STYLE, starring Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin; CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart; the global blockbuster SAN ANDREAS; the “Journey to the Center of the Earth” franchise; the “Harold & Kumar” series of films; the hit film HORRIBLE BOSSES; and ensemble romantic comedies HOW TO BE SINGLE, HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU and VALENTINE’S DAY. His upcoming projects include Melissa McCarthy’s LIFE OF THE PARTY.
Disco previously worked as a director of development and creative executive overseeing and managing the productions of such varied titles as FRACTURE, HAIRSPRAY, and FOUR CHRISTMASES.
In 2010, Disco was selected by The Hollywood Reporter for their “Next Gen” list of studio executives 35 and under. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Policy Studies, a joint program between the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and The College of Arts and Sciences. He is a member of PGA, BAFTA and AFI.
■ JARON PRESANT (Director of Photography) began his obsession with photography as a kid. He ventured from still photography into motion while in high school, assisting cinematographer Tom Richmond on commercials, music videos, and features.
After graduating from USC’s School of Cinema-Television, he dove into indies, shooting award-winning features on the festival circuit, including TEN STORIES TALL, MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC and HOURS. He also developed a close relationship with director Rian Johnson, shooting second unit on all of his films, including most recently, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Presant also served as second unit director of photography on the blockbuster SAN ANDREAS, his first collaboration with RAMPAGE director Brad Peyton.
In 2017, he was named one of Variety’s Top 10 Cinematographers to Watch and was inducted into the American Society of Cinematographers.
■ BARRY CHUSID (Production Designer) is known for his unique structural perspective, to engross viewers as he brings monuments tumbling down, an ironic callback to his early career in architecture. RAMPAGE marks his second destructive collaboration with director Brad Peyton, following Peyton’s continent-splitting global blockbuster SAN ANDREAS, starring Dwayne Johnson. RAMPAGE provided Barry with a whole new world to build — and wreak havoc on. Chusid’s production design credits include the extraterrestrial destruction of Roland Emmerich’s INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE, the climate change-fueled hazards of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and the apocalyptic chaos of 2012. He helped bring to life the space cowboy aesthetic of Joss Whedon’s SERENITY, and synthesized terrifying futuristic technology for a repeatedly train-wrecked Jake Gyllenhaal in Duncan Jones’ SOURCE CODE.
Chusid began his film career as a set designer on Larry Kasdan’s WYATT EARP, and art directed such thematically eclectic films as THE PATRIOT, SE7EN, MYSTERY MEN, BLADE, ANACONDA, and LAST MAN STANDING.
■ JIM MAY (Editor) served as editor on the 2016 animated family adventure TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS, reuniting him with filmmaker Michael Bay, with whom he has collaborated numerous times. His recent film credits also include the box office hit adventure comedy GOOSEBUMPS, and Jaume Collet-Serra’s action thriller NON-STOP starring Liam Neeson.
Previously, May edited Jon Chu’s G.I. JOE: RETALIATION, Jon Favreau’s COWBOYS & ALIENS, Joe Carnahan’s THE A-TEAM, and Stephen Sommers’ G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA, as well as THE HITCHER, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, for which he also provided the voice of Vardan, VAN HELSING, KANGAROO JACK, and the 2001 horror film COOKERS, for which he shared the Best Editing honor at the Milano International Film Festival.
May has also made significant contributions to the art of visual effects, serving as visual effects editor on the blockbuster ARMAGEDDON, which marked his first collaboration with Bay; as well as Stephen Sommers’ DEEP RISING and THE MUMMY, Paul Michael Glaser’s KAZAAM, and Frank Oz’s THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD. While at various visual effects facilities such as ILM and Boss Films, May worked as an assistant VFX editor on Robert Townsend’s THE METEOR MAN, Steven Spielberg’s HOOK James Cameron’s TERMINATOR 2, and Richard C. Sarafian’s SOLAR CRISIS
As an additional editor, May’s credits include work on PATRIOT’S DAY, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, THE PURGE, BATTLE FOR TERRA and PEARL HARBOR.
■ BOB DUCSAY (Editor) most recently edited STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, for director Rian Johnson. His other recent editing credits include the action adventure SAN ANDREAS, for director Brad Peyton; Gareth Edwards’ GODZILLA, which he also co-produced; Bryan Singer’s fantasy adventure JACK THE GIANT SLAYER; and Rian Johnson’s acclaimed thriller LOOPER.
Ducsay is a longtime collaborator with filmmaker Stephen Sommers, having served as Sommers’ editor and producer on THE MUMMY RETURNS, VAN HELSING, and G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA, in addition to producing THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR. He also served as president of Sommers Company for eight years.
His other editing credits include THE ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN< JUNGLE BOOK and THE MUMMY. Ducsay also executive produced the 2004 Academy Award-winning short film TWO SOLDIERS, for director Aaron Schneider. The Miami native received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania and his MFA from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. ■ MELISSA BRUNING (Costume Designer) most recently worked on the 2017 action adventure WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, following DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, both for director Matt Reeves. Previously, she and Reeves collaborated on the drama LET ME IN.
Her recent design credits also include the Showtime pilot BALL STREET, from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and starring Don Cheadle; and the feature WILD, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and starring Reese Witherspoon, for which she earned a 2015 Costume Designers Guild nomination.
Her additional credits include PARKER and LOVE RANCH, both directed by Taylor Hackford; as well as FRIENDS WITH KIDS, THE IRISHMAN, FIVE DOLLARS A DAY, CLUB DREAD, SUPER TROOPERS, JESSICA STEIN, and JUST ONE TIME.
■ ANDREW LOCKINGTON (Composer) is best known for his epic score to the blockbuster SAN ANDREAS, which grossed close to $475 million worldwide.
Lockington’s other credits include the Golden Globe-nominated FRANKIE AND ALICE, starring Halle Berry; PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS; JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH; the Tom Hanks-produced CITY OF EMBER; director Brad Peyton’s JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND; and THE SPACE BETWEEN US.
RAMPAGE marks his fourth feature with director Brad Peyton. Lockington drew upon his knowledge and love of world music, his orchestral skills and electronic experimentation for the creation of this unique score. RAMPAGE features a large orchestra, processed brass and world percussion, vintage computer game electronics, manipulated animal noises recorded in the jungle on two continents, and The African Children’s Choir from Uganda.
In 2008, Lockington was named the Breakthrough Composer of the Year through the International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA), and was nominated for Discovery of the Year at the World Soundtrack Awards.
In addition to writing scores, Lockington has written and performed multiple songs for films, including “Stalking Stars,” featured in Ben Affleck’s 2013 Oscar winner for Best Picture, ARGO and “Move On,” featured in Chris Evans’ directorial debut, BEFORE WE GO.
■ COLIN STRAUSE (VFX Supervisor) and his brother, Greg have charted a meteoric rise from self-taught artists working on local cable commercials in the suburbs of Chicago, to renowned visual effects gurus. After moving to Hollywood as teens in the mid-’90s, they began their careers on the original run of THE X-FILES series before working their way onto the early CG-driven features THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, VOLCANO, and the iceberg sequence of James Cameron’s TITANIC.
Founding their own VFX house, Hydraulx, in 2002, the brothers have worked on visionary sequences for over 90 feature films, including AVATAR, THE AVENGERS, SKYFALL, CAPTAIN AMERICA, 2012, IRON MAN 2, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES and THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.
In 2000, Colin won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Art Direction for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ video “Californication.” This led to the brothers stepping behind the camera the following year, crafting an instantly recognizable aesthetic on some of the decade’s most inventive music videos, including Linkin Park’s multiple VMA nominated “Crawling,” A Perfect Circle’s “Weak and Powerless,” 50 Cent’s “Get Up” and Usher’s “Love in this Club.” Their storytelling talents soon garnered attention in the ad world where they directed campaigns for Toyota, Universal Studios, PlayStation, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Ford, Pennzoil, and Shell.
In 2007, Colin and Greg co-directed their first feature, ALIENS VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM. Next came SKYLINE, which they directed and produced independently under their Hydraulx Entertainment banner. The $10 million indie went on to gross over $80 million worldwide and led to the sequel, BEYOND SKYLINE.
In 2015, Colin served as lead visual effects supervisor on Brad Peyton’s SAN ANDREAS, which earned four nominations from the Visual Effects Society Awards. The following year, he supervised Adam Wingard’s DEATH NOTE and reunited with Dwayne Johnson, co-supervising on BAYWATCH.
Additionally, Strause’ Hydraulx VFX credits include X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, THE CONJURING 2, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY and INTO THE STORM. The company served as the lead vendor on Rian Johnson’s LOOPER, created the opening set piece for Marvel’s THE AVENGERS, and completed more than a third of the groundbreaking age-altering shots in the Academy Award-winning feature THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.
Colin and Greg also executive produced THE BAY, directed by Barry Levinson and the critically acclaimed Cannes Film Festival-winner TAKE SHELTER, starring Michael Shannon and directed by Jeff Nichols.
About Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures produces and distributes a wide-ranging slate of some 18-22 films each year, employing a business paradigm that mitigates risk while maximizing productivity and capital. Warner Bros. Pictures either fully finances or co-finances the films it produces and maintains worldwide distribution rights. It also monetizes its distribution and marketing operations by distributing films that are totally financed and produced by third parties.
For more information on RAMPAGE, please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan: