David Koepp (//; born June 9, 1963) is an American screenwriter. He is the ninth most successful screenwriter of all time in terms of U.S. box office receipts with a total gross of over $2.3 billion. Koepp has achieved both critical and commercial success in a wide variety of genres: thriller, science fiction, comedy, action, drama, crime, superhero, horror, adventure, and fantasy.
Some of the best-known films he has written include the sci-fi adventure films Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008); the crime film Carlito's Way (1993); the action spy films Mission: Impossible (1996) and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014); the superhero film Spider-Man (2002); the sci-fi disaster film War of the Worlds (2005) and the mystery thriller Angels & Demons (2009). Koepp has directed seven feature films over the course of his career: The Trigger Effect (1996), Stir of Echoes (1999), Secret Window (2004), Ghost Town (2008), Premium Rush (2012), Mortdecai (2015), and You Should Have Left (2020).
Koepp was born in Pewaukee, Wisconsin as the youngest of four children, to Donald Koepp, who owned a billboard company, and a family therapist mother. While attending Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin, he worked evenings and weekends at the McDonald's restaurant in Delafield. Originally studying to become an actor, first at the University of Minnesota for a year and afterwards at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for two years, he enrolled in the film school of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1984. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in film from UCLA in 1990.
As a writer, Koepp worked on blockbuster Hollywood films such as Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, and Spider-Man. He had a cameo appearance as the "Unlucky Bastard", a minor character devoured by a T. rex roaming San Diego in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which he co-wrote and was second unit director of. Although Koepp did not write Jurassic Park III, he did devise the film's basic storyline. Koepp later declined an offer to write a script for the series' fourth film, Jurassic World, as he felt he had nothing left to contribute to the series.
Koepp was reportedly paid $4,000,000 for his Panic Room screenplay. He wrote the screenplay for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and co-wrote and directed 2008's Ghost Town starring Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear.
Koepp's work as a director has not had quite the same box office success. His films include Secret Window, Stir of Echoes, and The Trigger Effect.
Koepp has also worked in television, creating the 2002 series Hack starring David Morse.
In 2012, Koepp directed Premium Rush, which he co-wrote with John Kamps. In an August 2011 lawsuit, Joe Quirk, the author of the 1998 novel The Ultimate Rush, accused Koepp and the makers of Premium Rush of copyright infringement. On April 2, 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg dismissed this case, finding that the two works were not substantially similar.
On February 17, 2013, Koepp received the WGA East's Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement.
On July 10, 2013, Lionsgate was reported to have acquired the comedic crime novel The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery, written by Kyril Bonfiglioli. Koepp directed the film, titled Mortdecai, from a script by Eric Aronson; Johnny Depp played the lead role of Charlie Mortdecai, and the film also featured Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, and Paul Bettany. Koepp adapted the Marcus Sakey novel Brilliance, which will star Will Smith and Noomi Rapace.
On March 15, 2016, The Walt Disney Company announced a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones saga, with Koepp as its screenwriter. By June 2018, Koepp ultimately backed out of the project due to his commitment to You Should Have Left, a horror drama film Koepp wrote and directed. Based on the novel of the same name by Daniel Kehlmann, You Should Have Left was released in 2020, and stars Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried.
On September 3, 2019, Koepp made his novel debut with the publication of Cold Storage, a science-fiction thriller. A film adaptation was announced in May 2022 from Studiocanal, with Koepp writing the screenplay and Jonny Campbell directing; the cast consists of Liam Neeson, Joe Keery, Georgina Campbell, and Sosie Bacon.
Koepp's second novel, Aurora was published on June 7, 2022, and a film adaptation of the book is in development for Netflix, with Koepp writing the script and Kathryn Bigelow directing.
Koepp is married to Melissa Thomas, a writer, with whom he has two children. He was previously married to artist Rosario Varela, with whom he has two children.
|1988||Apartment Zero||No||Yes||Yes||co-wrote with Martin Donovan|
|I Come in Peace||No||Yes||No|
|1991||Toy Soldiers||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Daniel Petrie Jr.|
|1992||Death Becomes Her||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Martin Donovan|
|1993||Jurassic Park||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Michael Crichton|
|1994||The Paper||No||Yes||Co-producer||co-wrote with Stephen Koepp|
|1996||Mission: Impossible||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Robert Towne and Steven Zaillian|
|The Trigger Effect||Yes||Yes||No|
|1997||The Lost World: Jurassic Park||No||Yes||No||Also second unit director and cameo|
|1998||Snake Eyes||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Brian De Palma|
|1999||Stir of Echoes||Yes||Yes||No|
|2005||War of the Worlds||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Josh Friedman|
|Zathura: A Space Adventure||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with John Kamps|
|2008||Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson|
|Ghost Town||Yes||Yes||No||co-wrote with John Kamps|
|2009||Angels & Demons||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Akiva Goldsman|
|2011||The Little Engine That Could||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with John Kamps, Cliff Ruby and Elana Lesser|
|2012||Premium Rush||Yes||Yes||No||co-wrote with John Kamps|
|2014||Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Adam Cozad|
|2017||The Mummy||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman|
|2020||You Should Have Left||Yes||Yes||No|
|2023||Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny||No||Yes||No||co-wrote with Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and James Mangold|
|TBA||Cold Storage||No||Yes||Yes||based on his novel|
|Aurora||No||Yes||Yes||based on his novel|
[Koepp:] "I spent my first year of college at the University of Minnesota. [...] I transferred to Madison, still wanting to become an actor. I spent two years in Madison [...]."
Koepp said, "[...] I wanted to be an actor, and I went to college in Madison for a couple of years, to do acting, [...] then I decided I wanted to write movies, so I transferred to the film school at U.C.L.A.."
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