“Hype can be the best thing in the world, but too much of it can kill you. There's this weird balance between getting people excited to see the film and not wanting to over-hype it to the point where they can't enjoy it because they've been told it's so great. ‘Cabin Fever’ was definitely a victim of that and people got really angry if it didn't live up to their expectations that they read on the Internet. The truth is, with movies like ‘Hostel’ and ‘Cabin Fever,’ the Internet's our only shot. They don't have the big stars like ‘War of the Worlds’ and they don't have the advertising dollars that these films do. Studios can spend $30-$40 million marketing a movie. How do you compete with that? You have to find a way to get fans to support your movie and the Internet's the only way to reach them directly without a huge budget. However, the danger is that if you catch that hype wave and people are excited, you have crazy expectations to live up to. People's enjoyment of a movie is directly related to what their expectations of that movie are. If they heard ‘Cabin Fever’ was some weirdo low budget scary, funny indie movie that got a distribution deal at a festival, they tended to like it much more than people who heard it was the second coming. The other danger is that people get sick of you fast and I know people out there are tired of reading about me.” Eli Roth
Eli Roth is considered one of the most bankable directors working in film today. His directorial debut, “Cabin Fever” (2002), which he co-wrote with Randy Pearlstein, amassed over $33 million at the box office internationally against a $1.5 million budget, while his sophomore effort, “Hostel” (2005), opened at No. 1 at the U.S. box office and collected more than $80 million worldwide. He also directed the less successful sequel “Hostel: Part II” (2007) and produced the horror film “2001 Maniacs” (2005) for director Tim Sullivan. As an actor, Roth appeared as Sergeant Donny Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino's “Inglourious Basterds” (2009). Prior to embarking on a filmmaking career, Roth worked as a production assistants and stand-in for several movies, including “Private Parts” (1997) and “lluminata” (1998). He also co-created (with Noah Belson) the animated series “Chowdaheads” (1999), which was originally scheduled to air during WCW wrestling events but was never actually broadcasted.
Along with James Wan, Alexandre Aja, Neil Marshall, Greg Mclean, Darren Lynn Bousman, Rob Zombie and Leigh Whannell, Roth became a member of a group of filmmakers called the Splat Pack because of their affiliation with the horror genre. In June 2006, Roth was voted by fans into the Fangoria Magazine Hall of Fame. He was also named Men's Fitness magazine's “Most Fit Director of 2006.”
Childhood and Family:
Eli Raphael Roth was born on April 18, 1972, in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, Dr Sheldon Roth, is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and a professor at the Harvard University medical school. His mother, Cora Roth, is a painter. He and his brothers Adam and Gabriel were raised Jewish. Eli began making his own movies at age 8 after he watched the science fiction/horror masterpiece “Alien” (1979) by Ridley Scott. He graduated from Newton South High School in 1990 and then attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and graduated in 1994. His thesis project, “Restaurant Dogs,” won a Student Academy Award in 1995. It was a spoof of upcoming partner and friend Quentin Tarantino's heist drama “Reservoir Dogs” (1992).
Roth, who developed an interest in filmmaking at an early age, took a job as an online sex operator for a magazine to finance his student films, one of which, “Restaurant Dogs,” won a 1995 Student Academy Award. While still a student at NYU, Roth was recruited as a head of development for producer Frederick Zollo, but quit to focus on writing. In 1995, he began writing the script for what would become “Cabin Fever,” along with his roommate and friend Randy Pearlstein. To pay for his writing project, he frequently worked as a production assistant and stand-in on films, including Karl Slovin's “Sex & the Other Man” (1995), Howard Stern’s “Private Parts” (1997) and John Turturro's “lluminata” (1998). He also portrayed a student in Barbra Streisand's movie “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996).
In 1999, Roth left New York for Los Angeles to find more opportunities. Once in L.A., he landed work as an extra on the ABC TV series “The Practice.” Later that same year, he was able to sell his animated series “Chowdaheads,” which he wrote, produced, edited, and animated. The show, however, failed to see the light of day. Undaunted, Roth, with support from a company called Z.com, created a series of stop motion shorts titled “The Rotten Fruit,” which he also animated, directed and co-wrote with friend Noah Belson. After several episodes were completed, however, the company folded and the domain name was purchased by Nissan. Also in 2000, Roth had a bit part in Lloyd Kaufman's “Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV.”
One dream achieved in 2001 was when Roth eventually collected the funds to film “Cabin Fever,” which marked his feature film directorial debut. With a budget of about 1.5 million, the horror movie became the subject of a bidding war among eight studios after its premiere at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. It was purchased for $3.5 million by Lions Gate Entertainment. Released theatrically in the U.S. on September 13, 2003, “Cabin Fever” generally received positive reviews. Also a box office success, the film grossed over $33 million internationally and became the studio's highest grossing film of 2003. For his effort, Roth received the Best Film nomination at the 2002 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival, the International Fantasy Film nomination for Best Film at the 2004 Fantasporto and an Empire nomination for Best Newcomer. “Cabin Fever” starred Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, James DeBello, Cerina Vincent, Joey Kern and Jeff Hoffman. Under the name of David Kaufbird, Roth also stepped in front of the camera as an actor in the movie.
After the financial success of “Cabin Fever,” in 2003 Roth teamed up with film directors Scott Spiegel and Boaz Yakin to set up the production company Raw Nerve, which focuses their film productions on the horror genre. The following years, he appeared in the direct to video film “Tales from the Crapper” (2004) and served as producer on Tim Sullivan's “2001 Maniacs” (2005), in which he also made a cameo appearance as Justin. Also in 2005, he voiced Lumberjack in the animated movies “Disaster” for director Roy T. Wood.
Roth returned to the director's chair to helm Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson and Jennifer Lim in the psychological thriller “Hostel,” which he also wrote. Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 17, 2005, the movie opened at the top position at the box office in January 2006 with the opening weekend grossing over $19 million. It continued to gross a total of over $47 million domestically and over $80 million worldwide. Despite victory at the box office, “Hostel” earned mixed reviews from critics. Roth won the Jury Prize for Best Director, Best Film and Best Screenplay at the 2005 Austin Fantastic Fest for his work on the film.
“I know your second film can make or break you because you're either a bona fide director or a one hit wonder.” Eli Roth
In 2007, Roth directed the trailer segment “Thanksgiving” for “Grindhouse,” the double feature homage of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. He also acted in “Death Proof,” Tarantino's segment of the film. Also that year, Roth directed and wrote the installment “Hostel: Part II,” which was released on June 8, 2007. The film was considered a box office dud but was nominated for a 2007 Teen Choice for Choice Movie: Horror/Thriller, two Razzies for Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie and Worst Prequel or Sequel, and a Golden Trailer for Best Thriller TV Spot.
In 2009, Roth costarred as Donny Donowitz in the movie “Inglourious Basterds,” which was written and directed by Tarantino. The film was well received by critics and received extensive recognition at a number of galas, including nominations for Best Motion Picture-Drama, Best Director and Best Screenplay at the 2010 Golden Globe Awards. It also enjoyed significant success at the box office.
Roth will play a role in the horror movie “Piranha 3-D,” directed by Alexandre Aja. It is set to be released on April 16, 2010. Costars of the film include Elisabeth Shue, Dina Meyer, Adam Scott, Christopher Lloyd and Jerry O'Connell. He also serves as producer for “Cotton,” a 2010 thriller directed by Daniel Stamm.
“Failure, in my book, is someone who lives in the safety of their laptop taking shots at those who actually achieved what they have been unable to do.” Eli Roth
Austin Fantastic Fest: Jury Prize, Best Director, “Hostel,” 2005
Austin Fantastic Fest: Jury Prize, Best Film, “Hostel,” 2005
Austin Fantastic Fest: Jury Prize, Best Screenplay, “Hostel,” 2005
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Filmmaker's Showcase Award, 2004
Fant-Asia Film Festival: 3rd place, Best International Film, “Cabin Fever,” 2003