Creighton Rothenberger is becoming a prominent name within our niche, having co-wrote last year’s Olympus Has Fallen with his wife Katrin, did the same thing again with this year’s Expendables 3 and again for next year’s London Has Fallen. ManlyMovie caught up with Creighton recently for a Q&A, check it out below, but first you can follow Creighton on Twitter (@creightonwriter) and check out his official website: creightonrothenberger.com
ManlyMovie: Olympus Has Fallen It was a big hit among our community, not to mention the public at large. But it was almost a throwback to ’80s/’90s action. Did it fill a void?
Creighton Rothenberger: Movies like OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN may indeed fill a void. While many of the recent superhero/fantasy/futuristic sci-fi films are undeniably cool (my writing partner and I, Katrin Benedikt, personally love them), we feel a segment of the audience still thirsts for action scenarios that are actually within the realm of possibility. Real flesh-and-blood heroes and villains. Real life-and-death stakes. Something that, within the context of movie logic, could conceivably happen tomorrow.
MM: The movie had some competition, going up against White House Down and ended up making a bigger profit. What do you think give it the edge?
CR: When WHITE HO– USE DOWN sold about four weeks after our script, we didn’t know what to think. I had written the first draft of OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN over 10 years ago, and was pitching it to everyone I knew for over a decade, with no luck. But I never stopped believing in the idea. I was convinced OLYMPUS had what it took to be a success. In retrospect, WHITE HO– USE DOWN selling was actually probably fortuitous for us, because it propelled our movie down the fast track to production, and I mean really fast. The script sold in March 2012 and hit theaters in March 2013 – exactly twelve months later – which is almost unheard of for a big action movie in Hollywood. Ours is rated “R” and has a grittier tone obviously, but in the end we’re just glad it found an audience.
MM: Right when the movie came out, there was a crisis with North Korea. You must’ve loved that!
CR: I’m a bit of a student of history. I was fortunate enough to win an Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting for a Korean War epic I wrote back in 2002 called THE CHOSIN. It’s one of the most amazing true-life war sagas of valor and courage I’ve ever come across. That really led me into delving deeply into the North Korea situation. The war is still not over for them. The Korean conflict (it was never officially declared a “war”) is still, technically, ongoing to this day. The communist North has been continuously making threats on-and-off for decades. It was just coincidence that one of the latest cycles of saber-rattling transpired right when our movie came out.
MM: When you were writing The Expendables 3, was it a challenge catering to such an ensemble of stars, each being used to leading roles?
CR: Absolutely. You have something like 16 main characters – many major movie stars in their own right – who all need their moments to shine in a 2-hour movie. It’s not easy. Katrin, myself, and Sylvester Stallone – who is the true guiding force behind this entire franchise, this is his baby – we all really worked hard to make it work. Hopefully we did.
MM: Were you aware of the cast while writing it, did they let you know who’d be who?
CR: Most of the time we knew who we were writing for. But things would constantly change. We initially wrote for Bruce Willis, for example, then Harrison Ford came on board. But it was a lot of fun. How often do you get to write lines for Rocky, Terminator, Han Solo, Mad Max, Blade, Zorro, and the Transporter – all in one movie?
MM: I hear London Has Fallen will shoot in a few months. Can you tell us anything about it?
CR: We’ve written LONDON HAS FALLEN and turned it in to the studio, We think we have a cool, big idea that we’d personally love to see onscreen. The British Prime Minister has suddenly died. All the world leaders converge on London for the funeral, including President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). It’s the most protected event on Earth. Then the shit hits the fan and you’re in for a ride. As for the movie’s actual shooting dates, etc. that’s all in the hands of the studio and the stars.
MM: You’re kind of branching out a bit with your next project, which is a “supernatural action thriller”, right?
CR: Yes, we’re close to completing a supernatural action thriller spec based on an original idea of ours. Only problem is, we’ve been so busy lately we haven’t had the chance to completely finish it yet. Hopefully very soon.
MM: Finally, any other long term plans? Director’s chair maybe?
CR: We just want to concentrate on writing for now. It took us a long time to break into Hollywood. We were one of those “10 year overnight success” stories. Now that we’re finally on the map, it’s such a blessing to actually make a living doing what is your passion. We never want to take that for granted. We love what we’re doing every day. At some point Katrin and I may decide to direct. But for now, we just hope to continue writing projects that get us excited and hopefully do well for everyone involved.