Destin Daniel Cretton

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Destin Daniel Cretton
Destin Daniel Cretton by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Cretton at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1978-11-23) November 23, 1978 (age 42)
Alma materPoint Loma Nazarene University
San Diego State University
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, producer, editor
Years active2002–present
Spouse(s)Nikki Chapman

Destin Daniel Cretton (born November 23, 1978)[2] is an American film director, screenwriter, producer and editor best known for his films Short Term 12 (2013), The Glass Castle (2017) and Just Mercy (2019), all in collaboration with Brie Larson. He is the director of the upcoming Marvel Studios film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).

Early life[edit]

Cretton was born in 1978 in Haiku, Hawaii on the island of Maui, the son of Janice Harue Cretton, a Japanese American hairdresser and Daniel Cretton, of Irish and Slovak ancestry, who worked for the fire department.[3][4] He was home-schooled by his Christian mother.[5][6] He lived in Haiku in a two-bedroom house with his five siblings,[7] including sister Joy, until he was 19 years old. He moved to San Diego, California to attend Point Loma Nazarene University, where he majored in communications.[8] After graduating, Cretton worked for two years as a staff person at a group home for at-risk teenagers.[9][10]

He made short films as a hobby, which developed as a vocational path. He attended and graduated from film school at San Diego State University.[9]


While at San Diego State University, Cretton made a 22-minute short film, Short Term 12, based on his experiences at the facility for teenagers. The short film premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking.[11]

Cretton at the Deauville American Film Festival in 2013

After graduating from film school, Cretton made his feature directorial debut with the 90 minute film, I Am Not a Hipster, which premiere at Sundance on January 20, 2012.[12] The film was produced by Ron Najor, who would later go on to produce the feature adaptation of Short Term 12 alongside Maren Olson, Asher Goldstein, and Joshua Astrachan.[13] Cretton's feature-length screenplay won one of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' five Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting in 2010.[14]

The film premiered on March 10, 2013 at South by Southwest, where it won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards for a Narrative Feature.[15] Widely acclaimed as one of the best films of 2013, it was listed on many film critics' annual top ten lists.[16] The film earned several accolades, including three Independent Spirit Award nominations.[17]

In 2014, Cretton was attached to rewrite the script and direct The Glass Castle, an adaptation of Jeannette Walls' 2005 best-selling memoir of the same name about a successful young woman raised by severely dysfunctional parents.[18] Starring Larson, the film also features Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts as her alcoholic father and eccentric mother, respectively.[19] Larson's role was originally considered by Jennifer Lawrence, but she dropped out while the studio was seeking the male lead.[20] The film was released on August 10, 2017.[19] It received mixed reviews from critics; they praised the performances of its cast (particularly Larson and Harrelson) but criticized the emotional tones and adaptation of the source material.[21]

In 2016, it was announced that Ryan Coogler had teamed up with Cretton and poet/playwright Chinaka Hodge to develop Minors, a new television drama series produced by Charles D. King. Drawing from Cretton's experiences working in residential foster care, Hodge's background teaching under-served youth in San Francisco Bay area continuation schools and Coogler's upbringing in the East Bay, Minors promises to take an unflinching look at institutionalization, exploring juvenile facilities and the children who grow up in that system. The series will show how that system shapes young people over a one-year period. Hodge will write the series, and Coogler and Cretton will direct.[22]

Cretton in 2019

Cretton subsequently teamed with Larson and Michael B. Jordan for Just Mercy, a drama film based on civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson's New York Times bestselling memoir: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.[23] Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, where he provided defense counsel to men on death row. The plot follows Stevenson (Jordan) as he explores the case of a death row prisoner, Walter McMillian, whom he fought to free.[24] The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2019,[25] and was theatrically released on December 25, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures. Just Mercy was critically acclaimed.[26]

In March 2019, Cretton was hired by Marvel Studios to direct a film based on Shang-Chi.[27] Both the film and Cretton's involvement were confirmed during the San Diego Comic-Con 2019, with the film being titled Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.[28] The film, which is Marvel's first superhero movie tentpole franchise with an Asian protagonist,[23] will star Simu Liu as the title character, with Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Awkwafina set to co-star.[28] On January 5, 2020, Cretton said that he signed up to the project because he wanted "to give [his] son a superhero to look up to".[29] The film was set to be released on February 12, 2021,[28] but was delayed to May 7[30] and later July 9[31] due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Shang-Chi's production in Australia was temporarily suspended while Cretton self-isolated. Production resumed on March 12, 2020.[32] Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently scheduled to release in theaters on September 3, 2021. [33]


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
2012 I Am Not a Hipster Yes Yes Yes Also editor
2013 Short Term 12 Yes Yes No
2017 The Glass Castle Yes Yes No
2019 Just Mercy Yes Yes No
2021 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Yes Yes No Post-production


  1. ^ Tekula, Sara (June 17, 2013). "Featured Filmmaker: Destin Cretton, Writer/Director of 'Short Term 12′". Maui Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "United States Public Records Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  3. ^ Willmore, Alison (May 31, 2016). "28 Asian-American Filmmakers You Need To Know". BuzzFeed.
  4. ^ Robinson, Greg (January 1, 2018). "THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Cinematic 20th century Nikkei » Nichi Bei".
  5. ^ Wianecki, Shannon (October–November 2013). "Moving Pictures". Hana Hou!. Vol. 16 no. 5.
  6. ^ Sugidono, Chris (August 11, 2017). "Filmmaker recalls his Haiku past while directing 'The Glass Castle'". The Maui News.
  7. ^ Valentini, Valentina (August 8, 2017). "Director Destin Daniel Cretton Has Always Lived in The Glass Castle". Vanity Fair.
  8. ^ Goldstein, Jessica (August 30, 2013). "'Short Term 12' writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton on real-life inspiration behind his film". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Meet the 2013 SXSW Filmmakers #30: 'Hipster' Destin Daniel Cretton Returns With Brie Larson Starring Drama 'Short Term 12'". Indiewire. March 5, 2013. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  10. ^ Adams, Sam (August 23, 2013). "Short Term 12 filmmaker Destin Cretton". The Dissolve. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  11. ^ Goldstein, Jessica (August 31, 2013). "'Short Term 12' writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton on real-life inspiration behind his film". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  12. ^ Harvey, Dennis (21 January 2012). "I Am Not a Hipster". Variety.
  13. ^ "Ron Najor". Film Independent.
  14. ^ "Short Term 12" (PDF) (Press release). Verve Pictures. 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  15. ^ Hopewell, John (August 11, 2013). "Memento Rolls Out 'Short Term 12' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  16. ^ "Film Critic Top 10 Lists - Best Movies of 2013". Metacritic. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  17. ^ Atkinson, Katie (March 1, 2014). "Independent Spirit Awards 2014: The winners list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  18. ^ McNary, Dave (August 8, 2014). "Jennifer Lawrence's 'Glass Castle' Gains Momentum at Lionsgate". Variety. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  19. ^ a b Kit, Borys (2016-03-29). "Naomi Watts in Talks to Join Brie Larson in Drama 'Glass Castle' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  20. ^ Busch, Anita (November 5, 2015). "Woody Harrelson in Talks For 'The Glass Castle' Opposite Brie Larson". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  21. ^ Giles, Jeff (August 10, 2017). "Annabelle: Creation is a Potent Prequel". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  22. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. (February 25, 2016). "Ryan Coogler Teams With Destin Daniel Cretton & Chinaka Hodge For TV Drama 'Minors'". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  23. ^ a b Fleming Jr., Mike (March 13, 2019). "Destin Daniel Cretton Marvel's Choice To Direct 'Shang-Chi'". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  24. ^ Denise Petski, Dino-Ray Ramos (August 8, 2018). "Brie Larson In Talks To Join Michael B. Jordan In 'Just Mercy'". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  25. ^ Lang, Brent (July 23, 2019). "Toronto Film Festival: 'Joker,' 'Ford v Ferrari,' 'Hustlers' Among Big Premieres". Variety. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  26. ^ "Michael B. Jordan's 'Just Mercy' Lands Year-End Awards Release; 'Sesame Street' Officially Pushed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  27. ^ Kit, Borys; Couch, Aaron (March 13, 2019). "Marvel's 'Shang-Chi' Sets Director Destin Daniel Cretton". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  28. ^ a b c Kroll, Justin (July 20, 2019). "Marvel's Shang-Chi Finds Its Lead". Variety. Archived from the original on July 21, 2019. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  29. ^ Ford, Rebbeca (January 5, 2020). "From 'Just Mercy' to 'Shang-Chi': Why Destin Daniel Cretton Shifted Gears for Marvel's Superhero Film". Hollywood Reporter.
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ Kit, Borys (March 12, 2020). "Marvel's 'Shang-Chi' Temporarily Suspends Production as Director Self-Isolates (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  33. ^ "Is This Our First Look At Tony Leung's Mandarin In 'Shang-Chi'?". Heroic Hollywood. 2021-04-02

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