Berks couple behind ‘Olympus Has Fallen' script excited about film's premiere

A scene from the film “Olympus Has Fallen,” written by Creighton Rothenberger, a Boyertown Area High School graduate, and his wife Katrin Benedikt, a graduate of Exeter High School.

Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt thought about being lawyers after they graduated from college but life took them on a different path — to the famed hills of Hollywood.

And now the husband-and-wife writing team is anxiously awaiting the premiere of a potential Hollywood blockbuster they co-wrote.

Rothenberger, who graduated from Boyertown Area High School, and Benedikt, who graduated from Exeter High School, are responsible for the screenplay of much-anticipated thriller “Olympus Has Fallen.”

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The film, starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman, opens in theaters nationwide on March 22.

Not bad for a couple who met during a screenwriting class in Philadelphia 13 years ago.

Their first major Hollywood film tells the story of a Secret Service agent who fell from grace during his prime while protecting the president of the United States but gets a chance to redeem himself when terrorists attack Washington, D.C., and seize the White House, The agent is played by Gerard Butler, best known for the blockbuster “300.”

Rothenberger said the idea for the film has been kicking around in his head for a long time before he put it down on paper.

“I thought about what would be the most impossible building to take over in the world and I wanted to marry that with a Secret Service agent, in his prime, who has to save the day,” Rothenberger said.

The movie boasts an all-star cast as well as veteran director Antoine Fuqua, best known for the crime thriller “Training Day” starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. Fuqua also directed “Tears of the Sun,” “King Arthur” and “Shooter.”

Benedikt said that she and Rothenberger had absolute faith that a director like Fuqua would make the intensity of the script come across to the audience.

“He took the script to the highest potential,” Benedikt said. “He made it believable and as plausible as possible.”

When a script is sold, that is not the end of the writer’s involvement. Benedikt and Rothenberger rewrote the script four times during the production process.

Benedikt said they did not feel any pressure during the rewrites because they collaborate well together, they are fast writers and they received great notes.

“We love collaborating. Because we are married, we collaborate every day,” Benedikt said.

The $80 million movie was shot in Shreveport, La.

Rothenberger said he and Benedikt went down for five days over the summer and met with everyone involved in the production.

“We met for five days straight, for about 10 hours each day and went through each page of the script. Sometimes line by line,” he said. “When we left, we each had a full yellow legal pad to take back with us to California.”

In Shreveport, a replica of the north side of the White House was constructed. Rothenberger said that the replica included the front lawn, the portico and part of Pennsylvania Avenue. Interiors of the White House and other locations used in the movie were built on sound stages in the area.

From the time Benedikt and Rothenberger sold their script to Millennium Films, it took 12 months to finish the movie which is a very fast timeline for Hollywood.

The couple said they feel both extremely fortunate and grateful.

“We left our corporate jobs and moved to Los Angeles in 2007,” Rothenberger said.

In 2002, Rothenberger won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting for his script of a Korean War epic titled “The Chosin.” That award led to representation by an agent.

The two got new representation and new agents in 2011 and that’s when “Olympus Has Fallen” became the first screenplay their new representation wanted to act on.

During those nine years, Rothenberger said they had many near misses when it came to selling scripts.

They have not seen the completed movie but they have seen a rough cut but they will on Monday when it premiers in Los Angeles.

“It was obviously a rough cut because the special effects needed work but we felt the vision on the screen,” Rothenberger said.

The couple’s mothers are having a get-together for family for the Reading-area premier of the film, Benedikt said.

Joyce Rothenberger said she is very proud of her son.

“He always liked to write,” she said. “I’m hoping it does really well.”

Rothenberger said they are always working on something new. Their next project is with a world-wide action movie franchise.

“It is crazy how life works out,” Benedikt said.

Along with Butler, Eckhart and Freeman, “Olympus Has Fallen” also features Angela Basset, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Melissa Leo and Radha Mitchell