How two Chicago guys made a #1 box office hit

Chris Charles and Danny Kravitz

Reel Chicago talks with the Chicago writing team Danny Kravitz and Chris Charles about how they managed to take The Marksman to the #1 box office hit.

Universal Pictures is releasing the film on digital platforms on April 27 followed by on-demand platforms and Blu-ray/DVD on May 11.

In anticipation of the digital release of the blockbuster film The Marksman, starring Liam Neeson, Reel Chicago had the privilege to sit down via zoom with two of the writers of the film, Danny Kravitz and Chris Charles. Danny Kravitz is an Emmy Award winner, songwriter, and Professor of screenwriting at Columbia College in Chicago and joined forces with Columbia College alumni, producer, director, and casting director, Chris Charles with Academy Award nominee and DGA winner Robert Lorenz to write this riveting and heartwarming movie. 

Here’s a look at the new trailer:

Interview with The Marksman writers, Danny Kravitz and Chris Charles

Where did the idea for this script come from?
Chris Charles explained how he and Danny met when he was Danny’s student at Columbia college and the two had previously written a script together several years ago which was a really sweet, coming of age road movie. Chris had been reading about the conflicts happening on our southern border at the time, in 2009 and really wanted to follow characters caught up in those messy conflicts along with touching on the same plot points from their previous script. 

How did they manage to write a movie about such a political subject without making the movie a political statement?
Danny Kravitz admitted that it was a “delicate dance” and it was their intention to tell a story on a human level that moved people and was able to explore a potentially political subject through the eyes of human beings. They were very thoughtful in how they told the story and they wanted to make real people come alive in the story. 

Why the PG-13 rating? Was it always intended to be a PG-13 movie?
Chris Charles admitted that the film could have easily been a rated R movie, but Robert Lorenz wanted to reach a broader audience. They decided that excessive language and bloody violence wasn’t necessary to tell this story about two unlikely people helping each other and healing.

Danny Kravitz said that there was a perfect amount of action and that a lot of people who have given him feedback were pleasantly surprised that they were able to enjoy the movie without gratuitous violence. 

How and when did Liam Neeson sign on?
Chris explained that Liam was their dream actor to play the role. Once their producer, Tai Duncan, brought Robert Lorenz to the project, it gained momentum. Tai had JUST worked with Liam Neeson on the film Honest Thief. Then Lorenz flew out and met with Neeson and pitched their vision for the project and that’s when they knew they had the green light. 

How was this independent film funded?
Danny explained how the pieces all fell into place and they were able to work with Sculptor Media which is an independent company, outside of the studio system that specializes in film finance, production and distribution. 

How did the pandemic affect the release of their film?
Chris explained that they filmed the movie prior to the lockdowns but things slowed down once the post production companies were closed down as “non-essential” in the early days of the covid-19 pandemic. The real challenge was the release, but fortunately they have a phenomenal distribution team with Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment who made the decision to release in January 2021. They were thrilled when The Marksman overtook Wonder Woman 1984 to reach #1 at the box office for 2 weeks and then go on to become the highest grossing independent film of 2021. As the major cities are reopening, more audiences are seeing The Marksman, but they are especially excited for the home release of the movie so even more people have the opportunity to view it. 

Let’s talk about the ending (without spoiling)
Chis and Danny are both absolutely thrilled with the ending and they explained that when Robert Lorenz joined up with them to do the rewrite, he was the one who came up with the ending that is in the film. Danny went on to explain that it wasn’t too far from their original concept, but Lorenz really polished the ending to be as riveting as it is, along with Liam Neeson’s performance. 

Danny Kravitz shared the process with his students at Columbia
Danny was excited to share what a treat it was for him as well as his students when he was able to share the process with his students. He was able to share every cool thing that happened along the way as the film progressed from preproduction into production including the announcement of Liam Neeson joining the project. He said it was the perfect environment to share with the students with phone calls from the set. 

What is on the horizon for Danny and Chris?
Chris Charles talked about his next independent crime drama that he expects will be released later this year as well as another script with Danny Kravitz. 

What piece of advice would you give to up and coming writers and filmmakers? 
Danny Kravitz discovered over the years that you need to find the thing that you love to do and if you like doing it, you’ll do it enough to get really good at it, and if you get good at it, you will have a much better chance at succeeding at it. 

Chris Charles has a similar take. He says as long as you’re enjoying the process and you find joy in it, and you really believe in something, don’t give up!

Danny followed up by saying, if something about your work is important to you and is moving to you, and it’s something precious to you, it will be precious to others. 

What is The Marksman?
Oscar nominee Liam Neeson is Jim Hanson, a former Marine turned rancher who defies the law to save a young boy’s life from a group of merciless cartel assassins in the suspenseful and powerful action-packed film, The Marksman, available to own for the first time on Digital April 27, 2021 and Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on May 11, 2021 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. 

From Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment, The Marksman is a tense thriller that follows one man and the boy he promised to protect on a dangerous cat-and-mouse race across America that leaves audiences on the edge of their seat from start to finish. The film is directed by Academy Award nominee Robert Lorenz (American Sniper, Mystic River) and showcases remarkable performances by Neeson (Taken franchise, The Grey) and the film’s supporting cast including Katheryn Winnick (The Dark Tower, Big Sky), Juan Pablo Raba (Peppermint, Narcos), Teresa Ruiz (Narcos: Mexico, Here on Earth) and Jacob Perez (Papa Bear, Willy Goes Way Back). Featuring never-before-seen bonus content with cast and crew, The Marksman on digital, Blu-ray and DVD includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes piece that dives deeper into the deadly cross-country road trip of the captivating story.

Ex-Marine and hardened Arizona rancher Jim Hanson (Neeson) simply wants to be left alone as he tries to make a living on an isolated stretch of borderland. But everything changes when he witnesses 11-year-old migrant Miguel (Perez) and his mother (Ruiz) fleeing from a band of assassins sent by a ruthless drug cartel. After being caught in a shoot-out, Miguel’s mother begs Jim to take her son to the safety of their family in Chicago. Defying law-enforcement, Jim and Miguel hit the road and slowly begin to forge an unlikely friendship, while the cartel’s relentless assassins blaze a bloody trail, hot on their heels.

With the purchase of The Marksman on disc or digital, fans are eligible to earn points towards special rewards via the Universal All-Access Rewards program. Members can redeem their points for digital movies, signed collectables, box sets, win exclusive prizes and more! For FREE registration and details please visit   

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