Director’s Chair Introduction: Anthony and Joe Russo

by Tony Cogan · April 7, 2020 · Director's Chair · No Comments

Deadline: 2 May 2020

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Hello everyone, it’s time to reveal the director that will be the focus of this months Director’s Chair and this month, seeing how it’s been a year since the release of Avengers: Endgame, I decided to feature the Russo brothers.

Now the Russo’s got their start at University, directing the film Pieces, which, to my knowledge, has never been shown outside of festivals. One of the festivals it was shown at was the Slamdance Film Festival where it was seen by Stephen Soderberg. After he viewed the film, Soderberg offered to produce the next film of the Russos, Welcome to Collinwood, a remake of the Italian film I Soliti Ignoti (otherwise known as Big Deal on Madonna Street). Whilst the film was not a success it did bring the Russo’s to the attention of others, one of them being Kevin Reilly, an executive at FX. He hired the Russo’s to direct the pilot of the TV series Lucky. This pilot got the attention of Ron Howard who was instrumental in getting the Russo’s hired to direct the pilot episode of Arrested Development. This pilot was heavily acclaimed and won the Russo’s the Emmy for Best Directing for a Comedy Series, with the Russo’s directing several more episodes of Arrested Development.

Alongside Arrested Development, the Russo’s directed episodes of the shows LAX and What About Brian before going back to films with You, Me and Dupree. Whilst the film was not a critical success, it was a commercial success, grossing $130 million on a $54 million budget. After that they went back to TV, directing episodes of Carpoolers, Happy Endings and, most notably, Community. The finale of season 2 of Community in particular garnered a lot of attention, including from Kevin Feige at Marvel Studios. Feige sought out the Russos and, following a meeting with them and being impressed with their story ideas, the Russo’s were hired to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The film was praised on release for it’s darker and more politically aware take on Captain America, earning $714 million on release. The success of Winter Soldier and the strong behind the scenes relationship between the Russo’s and Feige led to them being hired to continue the story with Captain America: Civil War.

Prior to the release of Civil War though, and during post-production of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon announced that he would not be directing any more Avengers films. Given the scale of Captain America: Civil War, essentially acting as another Avengers film with how many cast members were involved, the Russo’s were the natural choice to direct. Working with the other directors and writers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to ensure continuity, mainly working with Scott Derrickson, James Gunn and Taika Waititi. Upon release both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were massive successes, critically and commercially, with both films making over $2 billion and Endgame, at the time of writing, being the highest grossing film of all time, unadjusted for inflation, and the Russo’s joining James Cameron as directors to have 2 films gross more than $2 billion.

Following Endgame, the Russo’s have been more active as producers, working on the films 21 Bridges, Relic, Extraction and Everything Everywhere All at Once, with their next directorial effort reuniting them with Tom Holland with the crime drama Cherry.

As a reminder, the films of the Russo’s you can cover are below.

  • Welcome to Collinwood
  • You, Me and Dupree
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Avengers: Endgame

I look forward to reading what you send me.