Paul William Scott Anderson (born 4 March 1965), also known as Paul W.S. Anderson or Paul Anderson, is a British film director who regularly works in science fiction movies and video game adaptations.
Anderson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Educated at Newcastle's Royal Grammar School, Anderson went on to graduate from the University of Warwick as the youngest student to achieve a BA in Film & Literature. He made his debut as the writer-director of Shopping, which starred Sean Pertwee, Jude Law and Sadie Frost as thieves who smashed cars into storefronts. When released in the United Kingdom it was banned in some cinemas, and only gained a release in the United States as an edited, direct to video release.
After this, he directed the successful 1995 video game adaptation Mortal Kombat. While prior video game movies, like Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros., had been all-out disasters, Mortal Kombat was well received by fans, and some critics. He declined to direct the sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation which was not well received by critics or fans, but he directed Soldier instead. Anderson was asked to direct a third movie, Mortal Kombat: Devastation, but declined again.
The success of Mortal Kombat gave Anderson free rein to choose his next project, Soldier, written by Blade Runner screenwriter David Webb Peoples. Intended as a sidequel to Blade Runner, the movie was set in the same universe (but not the same planet), and contained numerous references to Blade Runner. Kurt Russell was attached to star, but was unavailable at the time, which delayed the production. In the meantime, Anderson made Event Horizon, The film was poorly received at the box office, and Anderson blamed the failure on studio-enforced cuts. While not a box-office success, the film gained a small cult following.
Soldier was eventually completed and released in 1998, and was a disaster both commercially and critically.
After the poor performance of both Event Horizon and Soldier, Anderson was forced to think smaller. His planned remake of the cult film Death Race 2000 was put on hold, and he set about writing and directed a TV movie, The Sight, in 2000. It was a minor success, and Anderson returned to cinema screens in 2002 when he wrote and directed an adaptation of the survival horror series Resident Evil. It was at this point that, to avoid confusion to the American director Paul Thomas Anderson, he began to credit himself as "Paul W. S. Anderson."
Working with a moderate budget in comparison to his other movies, Resident Evil was a commercial success in cinemas and on DVD, prompting Anderson to write (but not direct) the sequels, Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction.
Anderson's next project was the much-anticipated Alien vs. Predator, a concept hinted at in Predator 2 and later popularized by a series of Dark Horse Comics. A movie version had been stuck in development for years despite the franchise crossing into every other form of media, from books to comics to video games. The fact Alien vs. Predator was being made at all was enough to get many fans of the originals onboard from the second the project was greenlighted. Some, however, were unhappy with the choice of Anderson as the writer and director, and had the opposite reaction, writing it off as a failure before it had even entered production.
The film was finally released in August 2004, and proved to be Anderson's most successful film to date, grossing $172,544,654 internationally on a budget of $60 million. After completing Alien vs. Predator Anderson rebooted his Death Race 2000 remake and finally got it released as Death Race in 2008.
Anderson will next direct an adaptation of The Musketeers, who will be played by Logan Lerman, Ray Stevenson (actor) and Luke Evans.