Timur Bekmambetov was born on June 25, 1961 in the city of Guryev, in the former Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. Although often seen as an ethnic Kazakh, he is in fact of Kazakh descent only from his father's side. At the age of 19, he moved to Tashkent, in the former Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, where in 1987 he graduated from the A. N. Ostrovsky Theatrical and Artistic Institute with a degree in theater and cinema set designing.
Film and television career
Between 1992 and 1997, Bekmambetov was one of the directors of Bank Imperial's popular World History commercials. In 1994 he founded Bazelevs Group, an advertising and film production, distribution and marketing company.
Bekmambetov's first feature, Peshavar Vals (1994) aka Escape from Afghanistan (English title) was a violent and realistic look at the war between Russia and Afghanistan. The film was dubbed in English and released direct-to-video by Roger Corman in 2002. Bekmambetov next produced and directed an eight-part miniseries for television entitled Our '90s. Bekmambetov then returned to directing features, with the Roger Corman-produced The Arena (2001), which starred Karen McDougal and Lisa Dergan. The film was a remake of the 1974 film of the same name. In 2002, Bekmambetov directed and co-produced (with Bahyt Kilibayev) the film GAZ--Russian Cars.
In 2004, Bekmambetov wrote and directed Night Watch (2004), a popular Russian fantasy film based on the book by Sergey Lukyanenko. The film was extremely successful in Russia, and at the time became its highest-grossing release ever, making US$16.7 million in Russia alone, more money than The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The sequel to Night Watch, Day Watch (2006), was likewise written and directed by Bekmambetov. The two films attracted the attention of Fox Searchlight Pictures, which paid $4 million to acquire worldwide distribution rights (excluding Russia and the Baltic states).
Bekmambetov followed up Day Watch with the smash hit The Irony of Fate-2 (2007). This sequel to the famous Soviet film is one of the most successful in Russian history, second only to Avatar for total box office receipts. He shot IOF-2 while prepping Wanted.
Bekmambetov's Hollywood directorial debut, Wanted (2008), an action blockbuster about a secret society of assassins, was based on a comic-book miniseries of the same name written by Mark Millar.
Bekmambetov has also produced a number of films in the US and Russia. 9 (2009), the story of a rag doll in a post-apocalyptic world, was directed by Shane Acker and produced by Bekmambetov, Tim Burton and Jim Lemley. Bekmmbetov also produced the Russian language action movie Black Lightning (2009) with Universal Pictures.
In 2010, Bekmambetov produced and was one of the directors of Yolki a.k.a. "The Six Degrees to Celebration" (English title) which became the second highest grossing Russian movie in Russian box office history. In February 2011 Bazelevs will release the Bekmambetov-produced Vykryutasi (a.k.a. "Lucky Trouble" (English title) starring Milla Jovovich and Konstantin Khabensky.
Bekmambetov is also producing Apollo 18, along with The Weinstein Company, a found footage science fiction thriller set for release in early 2012 and The Darkest Hour , a science fiction film set in Moscow and produced by New Regency.
Bekmambetov just completed directing and producing the live action adaption of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, also produced by Tim Burton and Jim Lemley.