Academy Award-winning director of the Back to The Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Forrest Gump, Robert Zemeckis started off as a protégé of Steven Spielberg in The Seventies. Zemeckis and his writing partner Bob Gale (they were collectively known as The Bobs) wrote several cult films which flopped during this time, including I Wanna Hold Your Hand (directed by Zemeckis), 1941 (directed by Spielberg) and Used Cars (directed by Zemeckis).
Zemeckis first hit it big in The Eighties directing the light-hearted adventure film Romancing the Stone. He followed it up with Back To The Future (which The Bobs had written a few years before, but couldn't get made) and Roger Rabbit. At the end of the decade, The Bobs made a couple Back To The Future sequels to please Universal's executives. Starting in The Nineties, Zemeckis went on to direct more "serious" fare such as Forrest Gump, Contact and Cast Away.
Nowadays, Zemeckis has taken to using CGI with performance capture technology, giving us The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. While these films were generally well received and made just enough money to justify they keep getting made, they were all best known for being trapped in the Uncanny Valley. After the box office cataclysm that was Mars Needs Moms caused his studio to shut down, he then had to head back to live-action cinema. 2012 will see the release of Flight starring Denzel Washington, his first live-action movie in 12 years.
Common tropes in his films:
- Acting for Two
- Historical In-Joke
- It Will Never Catch On
- Motion Capture
- The Oner
- Playing Against Type (Often casts actors this way.)
- Time Travel
- Trailers Always Spoil: Intentionally does this with his films (the one for Cast Away gives away that he does get off the island while the one for What Lies Beneath gives away Harrison Ford as the bad guy, which renders the first 90 minutes of the heroine trying to figure it out suspense-less.) He says that the market research shows that people want to know everything before going in.