Take the money and run with it: 11 directors changed by Hollywood success

These are not directors who take a “one for you, one for me” approach, alternating personal projects with work for hire; nor are they directors for whom blockbuster filmmaking was the natural progression from their earlier work. These 11 filmmakers showed great promise in one area of filmmaking, only to alter their voices in the service of commercial success. And although the results aren’t bad—at the very least, they’re competent, and some have done their best work on blockbusters—in each case, something was irrevocably changed in the process.

Peter Jackson

Once upon a time, Peter Jackson was the mad man of New Zealand, running around the countryside with a little money, a lot of fake blood, and a boundless imagination for gore. And then that madness suddenly vanished, sacrificed in the service of a dream: faithful adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic The Lord Of The Rings

Jon Favreau

Swingers star Jon Favreau made a name for himself on the ’90s independent scene, largely after writing himself and his buddy Vince Vaughn into the 1996 comedy. Favreau’s directorial debut, Made, tread similar territory to Swingers, and 2003’s Elf further cemented him as a comedy director. Two years later he directed Zathura: A Space Adventure, the first hint at grander ambitions for Favreau, but it was the massive success of Iron Man that established him as an in-demand blockbuster director.

Kenneth Branagh

The name Kenneth Branagh used to be synonymous with highbrow literary fare, particularly his film adaptations of Shakespeare classics like Hamlet and Henry V. Then he got an offer to direct Marvel’s Thor, which seemed like an odd choice at the time. But being at the helm of a big-budget production must have suited Branagh, because since his encounter with the God Of Thunder he’s gone on to make an action movie (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and a live-action Disney remake (Cinderella).

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I love Lord of the Rings, but Peter Jackson will never top this…