Phillips in 2016
December 20, 1970
Todd Phillips (né Bunzl, born December 20, 1970) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor. His early career primarily involved directing comedy films, including Old School (2003), Starsky & Hutch (2004) and The Hangover Trilogy (2009, 2011, and 2013). He also co-wrote the satirical comedy film Borat (2006) which was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Phillips later co-wrote and directed the psychological thriller film Joker (2019), which premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival where it received the top prize, the Golden Lion. Joker went on to earn him Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, alongside his co-writer Scott Silver.
Phillips was born in Brooklyn, New York City, to a Jewish family. He was raised in Huntington, New York, on Long Island. He attended New York University Film School, but dropped out because he could not afford to complete his first film and pay tuition simultaneously. Around that time, he worked at Kim's Video and Music.
Phillips appeared as one of the drivers in the first season of the HBO hidden camera docu-series Taxicab Confessions. In a New York Times profile, Phillips said he had gotten in trouble for shoplifting as a young man.
Phillip's first documentary film, Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, centered on the life and death of controversial punk rocker GG Allin, while as a junior at NYU and it went on to become one of the highest grossing student films at the time, even getting a limited theatrical release. Next, he co-directed with then-partner Andrew Gurland for Frat House, a second documentary about college fraternities; it premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary features. It was produced by HBO, but never aired on its channel because many of the film's participants claimed they were paid to re-enact their activities. It was never proven either way.
His third documentary Bittersweet Motel centered on the jam band Phish, covering its summer and fall 1997 tours, plus footage from their 1998 spring tour of Europe. It ends at The Great Went, a two-day festival held in upstate Maine which attracted 70,000 people. While at Sundance with Frat House, Phillips met director-producer Ivan Reitman who led Phillips into writing and directing his comedy films, Road Trip and Old School, for Reitman's Montecito Picture Company.
Phillips also wrote and directed the 2004 film Starsky & Hutch starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, as well as the 2006 film School for Scoundrels, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder. In 2005, Details Magazine cited Judd Apatow, Adam McKay and Phillips as "The Frat Pack". He worked on the satirical comedy Borat (2006), but he resigned his position as a director in early 2005, due to creative differences. Nevertheless, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his role in fashioning the story.
After establishing Green Hat Films in 2008, Phillips directed and produced The Hangover, that was made for a reported $35 million and went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy in 2009. Its worldwide gross stood at $480 million on February 3, 2012. The film went on to win the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy). It also won Best Comedy at the 2009 Broadcast Film Critics Awards. Phillips took almost no up-front salary in exchange for a large share of the film's profits, and has said that the movie's enormous success, combined with his deal, makes it "my Star Wars". After a worldwide gross of $467 million, his share in the film made Phillips around $50 million.
In the fall of 2010, production on The Hangover Part II began in Bangkok, Thailand that Phillips directed, produced and co-wrote. The film shot for 63 days and broke various records upon its release on May 26, 2011. With the film debuting at midnight with showings in 2,600 theaters, the film earned $10.4 million, breaking the record for the biggest midnight opening for an R-rated film. The Hangover Part II went on to accrue a launch day total of $31.6 million; nearly doubling The Hangover's Friday launch opening ($16.7 million). This amount broke two further records; the highest-grossing opening day for a live-action comedy and the highest-grossing opening day for an R-rated comedy film, replacing Sex and the City ($26.7 million). The three-day opening weekend accumulated $85,946,294 – an average of $23,923 per theater – becoming the highest grossing opening weekend for a comedy film, replacing The Simpsons Movie ($74 million). For the Memorial Day four-day weekend, the film amassed $103.4 million to become the fourth-highest-grossing Memorial Day weekend opening. Finally, the film's worldwide gross of $581,464,305 beat the previous R-rated comedy record holder The Hangover to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy film of all time (now surpassed by both Deadpool movies).
Phillips directed, co-wrote, and co-produced an origin story film of DC Comics's supervillain, the Joker. The script, set in 1981, was co-written by Scott Silver, and the film starred Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. The film premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival and was released in October 2019.
Phillips is scheduled to direct a biographical film about Hulk Hogan, starring Chris Hemsworth in the lead role. Frequent collaborator Scott Silver is a co-writer, alongside John Pollono. Philips is producing the film with Bradley Cooper, one of the lead actors of Phillips' The Hangover trilogy and producer on Joker.
When asked in a 2014 interview by the BBC if he believes in God, Phillips replied: "Personally I don't. But I believe there's a higher power, a collective energy in people that you might say is God". Phillips said in 2019, in the aftermath of his dark drama Joker release, that he had stopped making comedy films because of the backlash of "woke culture", saying: "Go try to be funny nowadays... There were articles written about why comedies don't work anymore— I'll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, 'Fuck this shit, because I don't want to offend you.' It's hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter."
|2004||Starsky & Hutch||Yes||Yes||No|
|2006||All the King's Men||No||No||Yes|
|2006||School for Scoundrels||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2011||The Hangover Part II||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2013||The Hangover Part III||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2018||A Star Is Born||No||No||Yes|
|1993||Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|1998||Frat House||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Co-directed with Andrew Gurland|
|1997||Taxicab Confessions||No||Yes||Field producer;|
|2008||The More Things Change...||Yes||Executive||TV movie|
|2012||Matthew Broderick's Day Off||Yes||Yes||Commercial for Honda|
|TBA||Black Flags||No||Executive||TV mini-series|
|2000||Road Trip||Foot Lover|
|2003||Old School||Gang Bang Guy|
|2009||The Hangover||Mr. Creepy|
|2011||The Hangover Part III||Mr. Creepy||Uncredited|
Awards and nominations
|1994||New Orleans Film Festival||Best Documentary Film||Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies||Won|
|1998||San Francisco International Film Festival||Certificate of Merit||Frat House||Won|
|Sundance Film Festival||Grand Jury Prize Documentary||Won|
|2007||Writers Guild of America Award||Best Adapted Screenplay||Borat||Nominated|
|Academy Award||Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|2009||Golden Globe Award||Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||The Hangover||Won|
|British Comedy Award||Best Comedy Film||Nominated|
|2010||ShoWest Convention||Director of the Year||Won|
|2013||Hollywood Film Award||Hollywood Movie Award||The Hangover Part III||Nominated|
|2018||Awards Circuit Community Award||Best Motion Picture||A Star Is Born||Nominated|
|2019||Latino Entertainment Journalists Association||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Music City Film Critics' Association||Jim Ridley Award||Nominated|
|Online Film & Television Association||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Venice International Film Festival||Golden Lion||Joker||Won|
|2020||Golden Globe Award||Best Motion Picture – Drama||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Movie Award||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|Producers Guild of America Award||Best Theatrical Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Award||Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Award||Best Film||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|Academy Award||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
- "Todd Phillips". Empire. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
- Paskin, Willa (October 26, 2010). "Zach Galifianakis Breaks His Silence About Mel Gibson". Vulture.com.
- Bloom, Nate (August 26, 2016). "Celebrity Jews". J Weekly.
- Itzkoff, Dave (May 31, 2009). "Finding the Fun in Eternal Frat Boys". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
Mr. Phillips, 38, ... was born Todd Bunzl in Brooklyn and raised in Huntington, N.Y., on Long Island, by his mother and two older sisters.
- "HATED Director Todd Phillips by Erin_broadley". SuicideGirls. September 13, 2007.
- Moore, Michael (December 23, 2019). "Rumble with Michael Moore, Ep. 6: Everything Must Go (feat. Todd Phillips)". apple.co/rumble (Podcast).
- "Todd Phillips keeps 'em laughing". Los Angeles Times. May 22, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
- "Todd Phillips- Director of Road Trip". DVD Talk.
- "The Power 50: DETAILS Article on men.style.com". Archived from the original on February 29, 2008.
- Billington, Alex (September 27, 2006). "Interview with Todd Phillips". FirstShowing.net. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
- "The Hangover (2009)". Box Office Mojo.
- Brad Brevet. "2010 Golden Globe Winners: 'Sherlock Holmes' 1, 'The Hurt Locker' 0".
- "$200 Million Opening Weekend Has Warner Bros Thinking Third 'Hangover'". deadline.com. May 31, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- "Due Date (2010)". Box Office Mojo.
- "The Hangover Part II (2011) - Daily Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo.
- "The Hangover Part II (2011) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo.
- "The Hangover Part II (2011)". Box Office Mojo.
- "The Joker Origin Story On Deck: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver, Martin Scorsese Aboard WB/DC Film". Deadline Hollywood. August 22, 2017.
- "Chris Hemsworth to Play Hulk Hogan in Biopic Directed by Todd Phillips (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Smith, Neil (September 24, 2014). "Getting Direct With Directors... No.13: Todd Phillips". BBC. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
- Hagan, Joe (October 1, 2019). "Cover Story: Joaquin Phoenix on Joker, Rooney, and River". Vanity Fair. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
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