Lightning strikes for director Chris Columbus 

There’s nothing like a good jog to spark the imagination, and director Chris Columbus, who’s lived in The City since 1993, enjoys a daily run through his favorite San Francisco neighborhoods.

Then do the math: “Rent,” “Bicentennial Man,” “Nine Months,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Home Alone,” plus two Harry Potter films (“Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Chamber of Secrets”) must mean, on some level, that The City plays an integral part in helping the director manifest some of Hollywood’s most memorable outings.

“I was so concerned about moving to Hollywood [from New York] and losing my heart and soul as a filmmaker, so living here is the perfect compromise,” Columbus says, “I love the flavor of The City — the food, the sports teams. And really, nobody cares if you’re a filmmaker. Everybody here has a pretty healthy ego.”

And a pretty healthy appetite for film, too, which could be fruitful for Columbus — “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” his latest outing, opens Friday.

Based on the famed book series by Rick Riordan, the film marries Greek mythology with a modern-day setting.

Teen dream-to-be Logan Lerman takes on the title role of a guy suddenly dealing with the unruly Gods of Mount Olympus. (Monsters included.)

It seems Zeus’ lightning bolt was stolen and young Percy is the main suspect. Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Sean Bean, Kevin McKidd, Steve Coogan and Rosario Dawson come along for the ride.

Columbus, who’s in his 50s, was jazzed about directing the film, mainly because he grew up watching movies like “Jason and the Argonauts,” “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” and the original “Clash of the Titans.”

“When I thought about actually recreating classic creatures of Greek mythology using modern technology, that was exciting to me,” he says. “And the concept that the Greek gods have relocated to America and now live in the underbelly of our society — I thought that was a fantastic idea.”

As for his knack for taking on good stories and showcasing them so well, the real trick, he says, is “knowing that the films that worked are the ones that I’ve poured most of my intense passion and obsession into. If I ever tried to make a film and have fun — just fun — it never usually works.”

He’s referring to 2009’s “I Love You, Beth Cooper” and how it failed to live up to expectations: “You just have to sweat blood and tears to really connect with the audience.”


Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Starring Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener, Uma Thurman, Ray Winstone
Written by Craig Titley, Chris Columbus
Directed by Chris Columbus
Rated PG
Running time 2 hours

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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