GUS VAN SANT, American film director, born. Openly Gay, he has dealt unflinchingly with aspects of Gay culture and other marginalized subcultures without being particularly concerned about providing positive role models. His filmography as writer and director includes an adaptation of Tom Robbins’ novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which features a diverse cast (Keanu Reeves, Roseanne Barr, Uma Thurman, and k.d. lang, with cameos by William S. Burroughs and Heather Graham, among others); and My Own Private Idaho, also starring Reeves as well as the late River Phoenix (Van Sant also planned to direct a biographical film about Andy Warhol with Phoenix in the lead role, but canceled the project after Phoenix’s death). He is perhaps best known for directing Good Will Hunting.
At one time he had an option on Tom Spanbauer’s The Man Who Fell In Love With the Moon. His film Milk, a 2008 biopic about the later life and assassination of San Francisco city supervisor/Gay Rights activist activist Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn) was eventually included on more than thirty Best Film lists and actor Sean Penn received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal.
In the United States, Milk was given a limited release on November 26, 2008, and expanded to additional theaters each of the following weekends to a maximum of 882 screens. The film made the top 10 box office list on its opening weekend with earnings of $1.4 million in 36 theaters. At the box office, the film more than doubled its production cost of $20 million. However, its long-term box office receipts were relatively poor.