Raja Gosnell

Raja Gosnell

In 1993, faced with diminishing returns and rising star salaries (not to mention Macauley Culkin's looming puberty), the studio decided to pull the plug on any further sequels and shelved the franchise for the next five years. However, in 1997, 20th Century Fox - by then, starved for a hit - changed its mind and announced plans to resurrect the series with a new cast. To fill Culkin's shoes, child actor Alex D. Linz was tapped to play Alex Pruitt, the new protagonist of the movie. The studio reportedly approached director Chris Columbus (who had helmed the first two "Home Alone" films) to take the reins again, but he passed. Instead, he recommended that the studio take a chance on Gosnell, who had served as his editor on the previous two installments. Fox agreed. While Gosnell took care to adhere closely to the formula established in the previous two "Home Alone" movies, audiences failed to respond. The film died a quick death at the box office after earning just $30 million - a mere fraction of the original's take - and effectively killed off any plans for a theatrically released "Home Alone 4."Luckily, Gosnell survived the fiasco. His next film was the Drew Barrymore romantic comedy "Never Been Kissed" (1999). The movie told the story of Josie Geller (Barrymore), a young, ambitious reporter for a major Chicago newspaper. When Josie is assigned to write a feature on what the modern, hip high schooler is up to these days, she naturally goes undercover as a student to find out first-hand. As Josie goes back to school, she finds herself drawn into the daily intricacies of the high school caste system. Still scarred from her days as a high school geek back in her first go-around, Josie struggles with her inner teen, all the while trying to maintain her identity as an adult. Earning over $50 million during its release, the film did far better than expected. In addition to being successful at the box office, "Never Been Kissed" proved Gosnell's growing flair for comedy.Gosnell's next project, 2000's "Big Momma's House," was his broadest comedy yet. The gender-bending, cross-dressing, mistaken-identity comedy starring Martin Lawrence grossed over $117 million at the box-office alone. Not surprisingly, the unexpected success of "Big Momma's House" dramatically elevated Gosnell's stock in Hollywood. In 2002, Gosnell was tapped to helm a live-action version of the Hanna-Barbera animated classic "Scooby-Doo." With a budget of $84 million, "Scooby-Doo" was Gosnell's most expensive project to date as a director. In addition to being a big boost for Gosnell's career, the film was also an especially valuable commodity for Warner Bros., as it represented another potential franchise. Despite lukewarm reviews, "Scooby-Doo" went on to gross a highly respectable $153 million - all but guaranteeing a sequel. Sure enough, in 2004, Gosnell followed up with "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed." The film, which reunited stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini and Matthew Lillard with the titular CGI canine was another hit - though a far more modest one than the first.Thanks to Gosnell's consistent string of hits, his star continued to rise in 2005. In August 2005, Gosnell wrapped production on his sixth film - the family comedy "Yours, Mine and Ours," starring Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo. No doubt inspired by the success of the similarly themed Steve Martin pic "Cheaper By the Dozen" (2003), "Yours, Mine and Ours," remade from the original Henry Fonda/Lucille Ball film, conveyed the tale of a large combined family brought together under "Brady Bunch"-style circumstances. Following the film's tepid performance, Gosnell returned to high-concept/low-brow territory for the surprise hit "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" (2008), reinforcing his knack for turning silly scenarios into box-office gold. He then made good on this sensibility many times over with "The Smurfs" (2011) and its sequel, "The Smurfs 2" (2013), hybrid live-action/CGI cartoon-inspired movies that were major hits with kids and featured amiable performances from the always-charismatic actor Neil Patrick Harris.