Top Hollywood movies that had their genesis in obscure short films

Apr 13, 2014, 11:07 IST | The Hitlist Team

Several short films have served as more than just inspiration for some of the finest Hollywood movies 

What’s common to almost every major Hollywood filmmaker, be it Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg or Christopher Nolan? They all started their filmmaking journey with a short film. Feature films happened much later in the course of their respective careers. It is no surprise then that some of the best Hollywood flicks had their genesis in less ambitious works. With Oculus hitting the marquee — the horror movie is based on a shortie by the same name — hitlist points out some films that had their genesis in obscure shorties by the same directors.

Movie: Her (2013)

Based on: I’m Here (2010)
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams
What is it about: As opposed to its title, the film is a superb tale about him. An experimental story set in the not-so-distant future about a lonely man falling madly in love with an Operating System only to rise above his loneliness before the credits roll.

Movie: Mama (2008)

Based on: Mamá (1997)
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
What is it about: The basic plot is about a ghost who has developed an incredible bond with children.

Movie: Boogie Nights (1997)
Boogie Nights

Based on: The Dirk Diggler Story (1988)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore
What is it about: The rise of the porn industry in the US during the ‘70s which spawned some memorable characters — and some embarrassing situations.

Movie: Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Napoleon Dynamite

Based on: Peluca (2003)
Director: Jerusha Hess
Cast: Jon Heder
What’s it about: This cult movie is about a socially awkward guy who is not afraid to express himself in whichever way possible.

Movie: Cashback (2006)

Based on: Cashback (2004)
Director: Sean Ellis
Cast: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox
What is it about: Being able to freeze time — and thus people — at will may not be the best possible solution to curing a terrible heartbreak. Or is it?

Movie: Half Nelson (2006)
Half Nelson

Based on: Gowanus, Brooklyn (2004)
Director: Ryan Fleck
Star cast: Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps
What’s it about: A drug addict who also happens to be a school teacher and can’t seem to get a hold of his life (or the one he had).

Movie: thx 1138 (1971)
Thx 1138

Based on: Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138:4EB (1967)
Director: George Lucas
Cast: Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence
What is it about: The movie, which is set in the 25th century, is about a dystopian world that is too futuristic, even for the idea of a rebellion.

Movie: 9 (2009)

Based on: 9 (2005)
Director: Shane Acker
Star: Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly
What is it about: An interesting mix of dolls doing what humans have been trying to in so many animated films earlier — save humankind.

Movie: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1995)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Based on: The Hard Case (1995)
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher
What is it about: Gang war, crime, bloodshed and then some more. Undoubtedly the ultimate blueprint of Riche’s style of filmmaking.

Movie: District 9 (2009)
District 9

Based on: Alive in Joburg (2006)
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope
What is it about: In this sci-fi venture, apartheid continues in South Africa. Only this time around, the division is between humans and aliens.

Movie: Frankenweenie (2012)

Based on: Frankenweenie (1984)
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder
What is it about: The protagonist’s love for his dog compels him to build a lab in the attic of his house to bring his beloved pet back to life.

Movie: The Raven (2012)
The Raven

Based on: The Raven (2010)
Director: James McTeigue
Cast: John Cusack, Alice Eve
What is it about: A rather fictionalised version of Edgar Allan Poe’s life where he pursues a serial killer whose murders bizarrely mirror those in his own written stories.

Movie: Bottle Rocket (1996)
 Bottle Rocket

Based on: Bottle Rocket (1994)
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson
What is it about: Initially supposed to be just another case of rob-and-run but as minutes pass, it turns complicated.

Movie: This is The End (2013)
This is The End

Based on: Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse (2007)
Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill
What is it about: A bizarre story about celebs who are finding it hard to come to terms with the end of the world as they know it.

Movie: The Pact (2012)
The Pact

Based on: The Pact (2011)
Director: Nicholas McCarthy
Cast: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien
What is it about: After the demise of the protagonist’s beloved mother, she confronts a harsh reality from her past that is bound to trouble her present.

Coming soon

Based on: Curfew (2012)

Movie: Before I Disappear (2014)
Director: Shawn Christensen
Cast: Shawn Christensen, Fatima Ptacek
What is it about: Ever thought babysitting can one’s life completely? In this story, the protagonist experiences a life-altering incident, thanks to his niece.

Based on: Whiplash (2012)

Movie: Whiplash (2014)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, JK Simmons
What’s it about: A young, promising jazz drummer struggles to become the person he wants to become.

Based on: Tetra Vaal (2004)

Movie: Chappie (2015)
Director: Neil Blomkamp
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver
What is it about: Think of Gattaca (1997) and its technologically advanced world. Now replace one of the two dueling brothers in it with a robot.

Blast from the past
Feature films in Hollywood that were adapted from short films made by other filmmakers:
Based on: La Jetée (1962)
Directed: Chris Marker
Movie: 12 Monkeys (1995)
Director: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt

Based on: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)
Directed: Robert Enrico
Movie: Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Director: Adrian Lyne
Cast: Tim Robbins

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