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Bridge of Spies

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Bridge of Spies is a 2015 American historical biography spy thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Matt Charman, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. The film stars Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda and Eve Hewson. It is based on the 1960 U-2 Incident, in which a lawyer named James Donovan is thrust into the center of the Cold War when he is given a mission to negotiate the release of Francis Gary Powers, a pilot whose plane was shot down in the Soviet Union.

Principal photography began on September 8, 2014, in Brooklyn, New York City. Touchstone Pictures was released the film in North America on October 16, 2015. That same day, 20th Century Fox will release the film in the remaining international territories. Its working title was St. James Place.

Cast

  • Tom Hanks as James B. Donovan
  • Mark Rylance
  • Amy Ryan
  • Alan Alda
  • Billy Magnussen
  • Eve Hewson
  • Sebastian Koch
  • Peter McRobbie as Allen Dulles
  • Austin Stowell as Francis Gary Powers

Music

John Williams was set to write the score for the film which would be his 27th collaboration with director Steven Spielberg. However, in March 2015, it was announced that Thomas Newman would replace Williams for the film, as Williams' schedule was interrupted by a minor health issue and he became unavailable to score the film.

Development

St. James Place was first commissioned by Matt Charman, who wrote a first draft of the script. He then pitched it to DreamWorks, whose co-founder Steven Spielberg found it interesting and decided to direct. Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger attached themselves as producers along with Spielberg. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen revised Matt Charman's original script. In June 2014, Fox 2000 Pictures agreed to co-finance the film with DreamWorks and Participant, with the film's distribution

rights being divided up between Disney and Fox. March 3, 2015, during an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian, Platt revealed the title to be Bridge of Spies which was shot under the working title of St. James Place.

Casting

In May 2014, it was announced that Tom Hanks would star as James Donovan, and Mark Rylance is to co-star with Hanks. Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Billy Magnussen and Eve Hewson, were reported to star in the film as well. Participant Media will co-produce the film.

Filming

Lights and rain sprinklers during the filming in Brooklyn Heights

Principal photography began on September 8, 2014, in Brooklyn, New York City. September 14, filming took place in DUMBO where the crews transformed an Anchorage Place into 1960s. September 15, filming took place in Astoria, between Astoria Park and the Ditmars Boulevard. Filming was done on 18 Street and 26 Avenue in Astoria where Spielberg was spotted transforming the 5 Corners Deli into a 1950s grocery store. September 26, filming took place on 44th Street in Manhattan as evidenced by crews stationed on 44th Street between Madison and 6th Avenues. September 27, Hanks was spotted filming scenes on the Wall Street among extras with 1960s costumes. September 28, filming of some day and night scenes took place on the corner of Henry Street and Love Lane in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, where the block was set with vintage cars, street signs, rain machines, and spot lights. September 29, filming took place on Hicks Street and Pineapple Street, where a shop Perfect Paws was transformed into a 1960s dress shop named Brooklyn Pearl and at the Monroe Place Courthouse. On October 6, Hanks Street.

In early October, after filming wrapped in New York, further production began at Babelsberg Studios in Berlin and Potsdam, Germany, and would last there through the end of November. Filming in Berlin began with shooting at the former Tempelhof Airport on October, for scenes that actually took place there, such as Donovan's descending from a historic C-54 Skymaster. A scene includes the prisoner exchange filmed on the Glienicke Bridge where the historical exchange actually took place in 1962. The bridge spans the Havel narrows between Berlin and Potsdam and was closed to traffic for filming over the last weekend of November. German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the set to watch the filming of these scenes. Principal photography officially finished on December 4 in Berlin Tempelhof.

Shooting also took place in Wrocław, Poland in the second half of November. During the mid-December, filming was taken place at Beale Air Force Base, located near Marysville, California.

Reception

Box office

As of November 22, 2015, Bridge of Spies has grossed $65.2 million in North America and $20 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $85.2 million, against a budget of $40 million.

In the United States and Canada, pre-release tracking predicted Bridge of Spies to open to around $15-20 million from 2,811 theaters. The film opened alongside Goosebumps, Crimson Peak, and Woodlawn on October 16, 2015, and also faced competition from The Martian, which was entering its third week. The film made $500,000 from its early Thursday night showings and $5.3 million on its opening day. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $15.4 million, finishing third at the box office behind Goosebumps ($23.5 million) and The Martian ($21.5 million).

Its biggest international markets have been Australia and South Korea, where it made $1.3 million and $922,936 respectively on its opening weekend.

Critical Reception

Bridge of Spies has received positive reviews, with particular praise for Rylance's performance. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 91%, based on 205 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Bridge of Spies finds new life in Hollywood's classic Cold War espionage thriller formula, thanks to reliably outstanding work from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.

A positive review came from Steve Pulaski of Influx Magazine, who gave the film a B and stated that the more meditative structure of the film "blended with some great, subtle period cinematography and a strong Hanks performance [makes] a fascinating adult drama that, while not as layered as it could be, is an enriching experience." The A.V. Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky described it as "one of the most handsome movies of Spielberg’s latter-day phase, and possibly the most eloquent...Bridge Of Spies turns a secret prisoner exchange between the CIA and the KGB into a tense and often disarmingly funny cat-and-mouse game," concluding: "An ode to holding fast to moral principles, geopolitics be damned, becomes a hurrah for old-fashioned big-screen storytelling."

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