‘Now You See Me’: No Easy Trick for Sleeper Hit’s Success
Louis Leterrier wanted to make a heist movie the minute he saw Steven Spielberg’s conman comedy “Catch Me if You Can,” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, in 2002.
But it wasn’t until years later, after reading the script for Summit Entertainment’s “Now You See Me” that the French director — who in his own words became known around town as “Mr. Action Guy” for such big-budget spectacles as “The Incredible Hulk” and “Clash of the Titans” — saw the form his first caper would take.
Fast-forward nearly three years, and Leterrier is reveling in having helmed the summer’s first sleeper hit — though the trick was hardly easy.
“I had to fight hard to get this film,” says Leterrier, whose first directing gig, 2002’s “The Transporter,” was an action pic starring Jason Statham. “No one thought I could direct actors or tell stories, but I believed in this movie more than any other script I was reading.”
“Now You See Me,” which bowed May 31 via Lionsgate, so far has collected $112 million worldwide, with domestic grosses alone at more than $82 million and counting. The magic-themed ensembler, which cost $80 million (though Lionsgate’s Summit covered two-thirds of the production budget through foreign presales), is yet to open in some key overseas markets, including the U.K., Australia, Germany and Japan.
The pic, which features a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, follows a group of Robin Hood-inspired magicians who steal from the rich and give to the poor. Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt wrote the script.
Although “Now You See Me” has drawn mixed critical notices, it has benefited from strong audience response to its original, character-driven story amid a sea of effects-laden epics and sequels. The film, in fact, opened with only a $2 million edge over Sony’s summer dud “After Earth” but has since furthered that lead by nearly $30 million.
“I have to say, I was a little hurt when I first read the reviews,” Leterrier admits. “It seemed no one understood we were trying to make a movie that respects the audience. It’s nice to see people went and liked the movie in spite of that.”