Chris Columbus (born September 10, 1958) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. After writing 1980s hits Gremlins and The Goonies, Columbus had directing success with family comedies Home Alone (1990), winning a British Comedy Award for Best Comedy Film, and Mrs Doubtfire (1993).
Chris Columbus took over the helm of the new Planet of the Apes movie project for 20th Century Fox in early 1995. He hired scriptwriter Sam Hamm (Tim Burton's Batman, an unproduced treatment for a Watchmen movie, and Columbus' co-writer on an unproduced Fantastic Four script). "After they got rid of us, they brought on Chris Columbus," ousted producer Don Murphy stated. "Then I heard they did tests of apes skiing, which didn't make much sense." Stan Winston Studios continued to work on the makeup designs and spent a large amount of time on research and development work. "The makeup that was designed for the tests was really pretty impressive. Stan and his son made a demo reel of improvisational stuff in the makeup under the direction of Chris Columbus. It was great." Hamm's final Planet of the Apes draft kept some aspects of Terry Hayes' script but owed much to Pierre Boulle's source novel. An ape astronaut from another planet crash-lands in New York harbor, launching a virus that will make human beings extinct. Dr. Susan Landis, who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alexander Troy, an Area 51 scientist, and a team of pilots and scientists use the ape's spacecraft to return to the virus' planet of origin, hoping to find an antidote. They find an urban ape civilization, led by 'Lord Zaius', where apes armed with heavy weapons hunt speechless humans. Dodge, a Jamaican astronaut, suffers the same fate as the original's Landon, while male astronaut Stewart didn't survive the trip. Landis and Troy discover the antidote and return to Earth, only to find in their 74-year absence that apes have taken over the planet. 'The Statue of Liberty's once proud porcelain features have been crudely chiseled into the grotesque likeness of a great grinning ape'. "We tried to do a story that was simultaneously a homage to the elements we liked from the five films, and would also incorporate a lot of material [from Boulle's novel] that had been jettisoned from the earlier production," Hamm said. "The first half of the script bore little resemblance to the book, but a lot of the stuff in the second half comes directly from it, or directly inspired by it." Arnold Schwarzenegger remained attached to star over the course of the summer of 1995, but after Hamm's script failed to meet Fox's approval, Columbus dropped out in late 1995 to work on the family comedy Jingle All the Way (starring Schwarzenegger). Columbus achieved great success with the Harry Potter series of films.