Becoming a Hollywood household name isn’t an easy task for Slavs working in the film industry, but one particular Russian managed to overcome all setbacks. His name is Timur Bekmambetov and he’s the Slavic screenwriter, director and producer, who took Hollywood by storm. Biopics, comedies, animation, fantasy, action movies, thrillers, horror movies and romance – he has done it all!
Born in the early 1960s in the former USSR, Bekmambetov kicked off what would soon become a lucrative career by directing a series of commercials, among which were the award-winning iconic features for Bank Imperial’s World History ads. His very first movie debut, Peshavar Waltz, which was based on real events and on his own experience from serving in the Soviet Army, was a ground-breaking hit. It granted him huge recognition in Russia, as well as in the US after an English version of the film was released on home video under the title Escape From Afghanistan.
His worldwide big break came in 2004 when he wrote and directed Night Watch – the box office hit film adaptation of Sergei Lukyanenko’s famous eponymous novel. Night Watch and its sequel Day Watch (both written and directed by Bekmambetov) became so successful that they eventually got the attention of the Fox Entertainment Group, which decided to distribute the movies all over the world, granting even more exposure for Bekmambetov’s work.
With only 5 movies on his belt (Peshavar Watlz, The Arena, Night Watch, Day Watch and The Irony Of Fate 2) Bekmambetov was already so successful that he was invited to work on the Hollywood blockbuster Wanted starring Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy and Common among many other Hollywood actors.
Even though he was already a household name by the time Wanted came out, the movie truly perpetuated Bekmambetov as one of the world’s most prominent Slavic producers, screenwriters and directors. After the brilliant reception of Wanted, he went on to work on a number of other famous projects, such as Yolki (the extremely successful Russian Christmas-themed franchise), Ben-Hur, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, 9, The Snow Queen, The Current War, Searching, Black Lightning and more.
As of 2018 Bekmambetov has collaborated with a long list of acclaimed actors, writers, producers and musicians. Some of his better-known associated acts include Tim Burton (Corpse Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas), Jim Lemley (Red Eye, Anna Karenina) and Jason Blum (The Normal Heart, Whiplash). Apart from the glamorous cast of Wanted, his star-studded acting assembly features other notable names like Milla Jovovich, Elijah Wood, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Kinnaman, Dominic Cooper, Jennifer Connelly, Nicholas Hoult, Debra Messing. In terms of scoring he has worked with big shots like Danny Elfman, Linkin Park, Alexander Rybak, Deborah Lurie, Tyler Bates, Henry Jackman and numerous other composers.
In other words, contrary to all odds, this guy’s 15 minutes of fame did not end with Wanted. Up to present day his filmography as a screenwriter, director and producer includes more than 50 Russian, Canadian and American productions. To say that Timur Bekmambetov is an outstanding example of how Slavs can succeed in Hollywood would be a severe understatement.
Regardless of the fact that some of his projects weren’t exactly blockbusters (Ben-Hur being the most infamous disappointment in terms of Hollywood box office expectations and worldwide reception), Forbes did name Bekmambetov the most successful Russian filmmaker of our time. According to their listings, his net worth is around $30 million. Oh, yeah, and if all of the afore-mentioned achievements don’t make him awesome enough, here’s something that will definitely blow your brains out – the man is actually living in Walt Disney’s famous former house at Woking Way, California!