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Meet the director of 'Ant-Man and the Wasp,' an NC native who's a fanboy at heart

Marvel Studios' 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' trailer

'Ant-Man and the Wasp,' the latest Marvel Comics Universe film by director Peyton Reed, a North Carolina native, will be released July 2018.
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'Ant-Man and the Wasp,' the latest Marvel Comics Universe film by director Peyton Reed, a North Carolina native, will be released July 2018.

"Ant-Man and the Wasp," the latest and greatest installment in the hugely popular Marvel Comics Universe, arrives in theaters on Friday.

Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly, it's the sequel to 2015's "Ant-Man" — and, like that film, it was directed by Raleigh native and UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus Peyton Reed.

Here are some things to know about Reed, who turns 54 years old on Tuesday, July 3.

1. He's a billion-dollar man.

Beginning with 2000's "Bring It On," Reed has directed five big-screen films, and they have collectively grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, according to figures from the Internet Movie Database.

Just over half of that billion-dollar figure came from the first “Ant-Man,” which grossed $180 million in the U.S. and more than $519 million worldwide.

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2. He wanted to make the 'Ant-Man' movies in North Carolina

Reed has yet to make a movie in his native state and had once hoped "Ant-Man" would be the first. But after North Carolina drastically cut its film-incentives program, he would up shooting in Georgia — a state with financial incentives in line with what North Carolina used to offer.

“It’s a bummer,” Reed told The News & Observer in 2015. “There’s this notion that movies are only temporary and make no permanent contribution to the state infrastructure, but the benefits are there. I’ve had a long-held desire to make a movie in North Carolina, and that’s tougher now. It’s millions of dollars, and that matters.”

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3. He's a friend to all Marvel films

When an online campaign launched earlier this year nationally to pay for young African-Americans to see the Marvel film, "Black Panther," Reed stepped up. He contributed $500 to a Raleigh fundraiser and signed his donation, “Long live T’Challa!”

He also Tweeted out his support: “Hi! Really happy that you organized the BLACK PANTHER gofundme in Raleigh (my hometown). Bravo on your success!”

It's clear he's been a Marvel fan all along. He almost directed 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy": James Gunn ended up directing that blockbuster and its sequel.

“Comic books have been Peyton’s life forever,” Chapel Hill pal Norwood Cheek told The News & Observer in 2015. “He’s been going to Comic-Con since the early ’90s and he’s not one of these guys who has just read a few comic books and been to a couple of Marvel movies. He knows this world.”

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4. He's been on Broadway, too.

"Bring It On" opened in August 2000 with few expectations — a cheerleader movie by a first-time director with largely unknown stars (Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union), made for a relatively modest budget of $11 million. But the film surprised almost everyone by debuting at the top of the box-office charts.

It went on to gross more than $80 million, also showing staying power as a rental and on cable television. That was enough for the movie to spin off "Bring It On: The Musical," which played on Broadway.

The touring version came to Durham Performing Arts Center in April of 2012.

bringitoncheer
Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) and Isis (Gabrielle Union), captains of rival cheerleading teams, face off at the national championship in “Bring It On.” KEN JACQUES Universal Studios

5. You shouldn't cross him on Twitter.

Last November, controversial Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore made the mistake of mentioning Reed's "Bring it On" in a tweet; he was responding to Senate Republicans calling for him to drop out of the race:

"Dear Mitch McConnell, Bring. It. On."

Reed was quick to respond by tweeting back at Moore:

“You’re not allowed to use the name of my cheerleader movie, you (expletive) pedophile.”

It quickly turned into a meme, in which other Twitterverse denizens chimed in with teen-movie quotes directed at Moore.

Moore went on to lose his Senate race to Doug Jones — and Moore's offending tweet has been deleted.

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6. He worked on 'Bull Durham.'

A dozen years before he got to direct his own first film, Reed was trying to make his way into the film business by taking whatever gigs he could. And one of his very earliest was on the set of "Bull Durham," the 1988 baseball movie starring Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon that was filmed largely in Durham and Raleigh.

PeytonReedIMDB.jpg

Reed worked as a driver, which is one of his earliest credits in the Internet Movie Database. It's under "Transportation department" on his imdb page, along with "transportation coordinator" for the 1988 comedy "Two Idiots in Hollywood."

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7. He remains an indie-rocker at heart.

Before movies, Reed cut his teeth directing videos for local bands, including the Connells and Superchunk. It made for a good calling card, showing that he could deliver expert videos on minimal budgets.

Probably his best video work was 1994's “Driveway to Driveway,” a highly stylized black-and-white clip for the band Superchunk. Featuring members of Squirrel Nut Zippers and other local bands in cameo roles, it's based on the 1940 Cary Grant-Katharine Hepburn-James Stewart romantic comedy “The Philadelphia Story.”

Reed still plays music himself all these years later. Nowadays he has a band in Los Angeles with Cheek, the Cardinal Family Singers.

Take a listen to their most recent album, 2016's "Tilter."



David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi
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