A Brief Discussion About Jon Favreau
You may recognize his face from Friends, The Replacements, Iron Man, The Wolf of Wall Street, or Spider-Man: Homecoming, but you may not know how much Jon Favreau has done behind the camera. At 52 years old, Favreau is an unsung superhero of La La Land. He has directed some of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed movies of the 21st century, a combination of success that is unbelievably rare. He also has a deep understanding and appreciation for film. In this article we will talk about some of Favreau’s career highlights and lowlights.
Favreau’s career began in the 1990’s, rather humbly. Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where George pushes past grandmothers and children to escape a room that is on fire? Well, Favreau played the clown in that episode. Then things took off when he wrote and starred in the cult-classic Swingers. It was his breakout role as well as a breakout for Vince Vaughn. The movie was cool, rough around the edges, and one of my favourite movies to date. Favreau then made his directorial debut with Made, a film in which he again starred alongside Vaughn. Two “indie” successes and then came the bomb: budgeted at $17 million, The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest, written by Favreau, grossed a little over five thousand dollars at the box office…one of the biggest bombs in cinematic history. But, as all greats do, Favreau bounced back by directing Elf, starring Will Ferrell. I may be wrong, but I think Elf is the only classic holiday movie to come out of the 2000’s, and it is still adored by fans young and old alike.
Between 2001 and 2005, Favreau created and hosted a TV show called Dinner for Five on the Independent Film Channel. In it, Favreau would invite four guests to have dinner with him usually at a Los Angeles restaurant. All his guests would be from the entertainment industry. In it, his guests and Favreau would share film anecdotes and, basically, shoot-the-shit for a half hour. The show had a slew of guests in its run including Peter Dinklage, Stan Lee, Sarah Silverman, and Alec Baldwin. Loose episodes can now be found on YouTube and some content is even available on Netflix.
In 2008 Favreau directed a movie that would spark one of the greatest changes in moviegoing history. Favreau directed Iron Man, the first Marvel Comic Universe movie. If it had flopped, like The First $20 Million, would we have the onslaught of caped crusaders on our silver screens that we do today? Doubtful, but Favreau did not flop, he delivered. The movie brought in $585 million at the box office from a reported $140 million budget. Favreau then directed Iron Man 2 in 2010 which brought in $623 million on a $200 million budget. And from there the MCU launched into the stratosphere.
In 2014 Favreau stepped away from the big-budget blockbusters to create a much-loved film, Chef. He wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the film about a chef who leaves his job at a high-end restaurant to open a food truck with his pals and son. Like I said, it was well loved, getting an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and bringing in $46 million on a $11 million budget.
But Favreau was not done with the mega-hits, for now his focus is on re-igniting the wonderful world of Disney. He was handed the directorial reigns for The Jungle Book, released in 2016, which gave a “live-action” spin on the 1967 animated classic. It was another risk, but due to Favreau’s deft directing, and some great casting, the movie was a major success. Next up, Favreau will direct undoubtedly 2019’s most hyped film: The Lion King.
And that’s Jon Favreau for you. In thirty-or-so years the man has given us cult-classics, a holiday classic, an insider’s look at Hollywood, was at the origins of the MCU, and is at the helm of Disney’s animation reboot. Not bad for a guy who started out as a clown in Seinfeld and D-Bob in Rudy.