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Four Summer Films With East Bay Ties

Four huge movies with East Bay ties hit the big screen this month.


Thurber (center) directs Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson // Courtesy of Warner Brothers/Photo by Claire Folger

Meet the Filmmaker

Orinda-raised writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber follows his hit film We’re the Millers with Central Intelligence, an action comedy starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.

Q: This screenplay was floating around Hollywood before you signed on and rewrote it. What did you change when it became your project?

A: The joke in the original draft was that the hero was teased for being pudgy in high school and he grew up to be a fat Jason Bourne. But when I heard [Johnson] was interested in working on this, a giant cartoon lightbulb went on over my head: Of course, if a kid got bullied in high school, he would transform into “The Rock.” What’s kind of fun was that we took the biggest action star in the world and made him the funny guy, and one of the funniest people on the planet [Hart] and made him the straight man.

Q: Do stars this big show up with a massive entourage and an ego to match?

A: Oh, no. Dwayne Johnson might be the best person I have ever met, and I include my mother in that. Kevin Hart is his very close equal: positive, professional, and incredibly funny.

Q: This is the kind of movie that plays as big in China as it does in Concord. Will you travel the world for press junkets?

A: We did some of that for We’re the Millers, but the trick this time is that my beautiful wife is expecting our first child [in early June], and the movie opens on June 17.


Grab Your Tickets

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

East Bay connection: Berkeley-raised comedy team The Lonely Island—Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone—teamed with comedy producer Judd Apatow for this satire of pop music documentaries, featuring Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, in theaters June 3.

Disney-Pixar’s Finding Dory // Courtesy of Disney Pixar

Finding Dory

East Bay connection: Pixar! Our favorite Emeryville genius animation studio serves up a sequel to the wonderful undersea fantasy Finding Nemo. Finding Dory, out June 17, follows its lovable, forgetful title character (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) as she looks for her family.

Mahershala Ali and Matthew McConaughey in Free State of Jones. // STX Productions

Free State of Jones

East Bay connection: Saint Mary’s College alum Mahershala Ali (House of Cards, Hunger Games: Mockingjay) costars with Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey in this Civil War–era epic, which hits theaters on June 24.


DVD Extras

Dek: Fun East Bay facts from recent films. 

Did you know

Danville-raised musician Scott Wittenburg taught Christian Bale how to play heavy metal drums in the Oscar-nominated The Big Short, adapted from a book by Berkeley writer Michael Lewis.


Did you know

Star Wars: The Force Awakens may have seen Han Solo piloting the Millennium Falcon, but in real life, former Walnut Creek resident Spike Minczeski helps Harrison Ford maintain and pilot a fleet of airplanes and helicopters.


In the Works

Two East Bay natives are working on movies set in the Marvel Comics universe. Oakland-raised Zendaya has been cast in next Spiderman reboot, scheduled for release in summer 2017. And Richmond-raised writer-director Ryan Coogler, who had a smash last year with his Rocky-update Creed, will next helm Marvel’s Black Panther movie, due in February 2018.

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