Hal Barwood

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Hal Barwood
Hal Barwood 2005 cropped and retouched.png
Hal Barwood at the Lucasfilm Christmas Party in 2005
OccupationGame designer, film producer, screenwriter, game producer

Hal Barwood is an American screenwriter, film producer,[1] film director, game designer, game producer, and novelist.

Early life[edit]

Born in Hanover, New Hampshire, his father ran a local movie theater in the town, this being one of his inspirations to become involved in the film industry. When Barwood was at high school, he saw Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, another inspiration to become a filmmaker.[2] He studied art at Brown University, Rhode Island;[3] and later attended the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television, where he met and became friends with George Lucas. Along with other film students such as Walter Murch, John Milius, and Howard Kazanjian, the group, known as The Dirty Dozen, went on to degrees of success in the film industry.


Film work[edit]


In 1970, Barwood directed, wrote and produced the short film The Great Walled City of Xan. His first film work was when he worked as animator in George Lucas' first theatrical feature film, the social science fiction film THX 1138 starring Donald Pleasence and Robert Duvall. THX 1138 was released in 1971, but it received mixed reviews from critics and became a box office bomb, although after Lucas' Star Wars, released in 1977, it became a cult classic. However, he jumped to fame when he and Matthew Robbins were hired to rewrite the script of Steven Spielberg's first theatrical feature film, the crime drama film The Sugarland Express starring Goldie Hawn, based on a real life incident about a married couple who are chased by police as the couple tries to regain custody of their baby. The Sugarland Express was released in 1974 but fared poorly at the box office (as it received a limited release), although it won the award for Best Screenplay at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival.[4][5] He and Robbins later wrote John Badham's comedic sports film The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, which was released in 1976 and received mixed to good reviews and a nomination for the American Film Institute's 2008 AFI's 10 Top 10 in the sports film category.[6]

After Express, Robbins and Barwood wrote Joseph Sargent's biographical war film MacArthur, starring Gregory Peck and based on the life of the General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. The film was released in 1977 with mixed reviews.[7] The screenwriting pair's next work with Spielberg was writing along Spielberg the script of the science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind after David Giler's rewrite didn't convince Spielberg. Barwood's and Robbins' major contribution to the script was to suggest a kidnapped child as the story's plot device. The two, under the orders of Spielberg, performed a convincing rewrite which impressed Spielberg. However, despite their contribution, neither Barwood nor Robbins were publicly credited for their work in the film, although they got a percentage and cameoed in the film itself as two World War II pilots.[8] Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released in 1977 and became a critical and financial success, eventually grossing over $337 million worldwide. The next year, 1978, Robbins and Barwood wrote the adventure comedy film Corvette Summer, starring Mark Hamill. The film was released that year and received good reviews.[9] In the 1970s, he also co-wrote an unproduced screenplay with Robbins called Star Dancing, for which Ralph McQuarrie was contracted to do a series of conceptual paintings.[10]


After Close Encounters, Barwood and Robbins collaborated again for the fantasy film Dragonslayer, starring Peter MacNicol, which Barwood co-wrote and produced.[11] Dragonslayer was released in 1981 and received good reviews and despite its mediocre box office performance,[12] it has become a cult classic.[13]

A time Later, Barwood made his theatrical feature film directorial debut with the science fiction-horror film Warning Sign, starring Sam Waterston. The film was released in 1985 and received negative reviews although its box office performance was not so bad.[14][15]

Video game work[edit]

While working on Dragonslayer, Barwood realized that he wanted to make video games in order to pursue his second childhood passion. Prior to becoming a professional video game designer, Barwood had previously created two video games for the Apple II (which he wrote and designed), entitled Binary Gauge and Space Snatchers. The first was self-published while the other was never published.[16][17]

Work at LucasArts (1990-2003, 2011)[edit]

He was hired as a script writer, producer and director for LucasArts. Following the success of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, LucasArts initially wanted him to make a video game adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Monkey King, an unproduced script written by Chris Columbus during the early development of the third film,[18] but Barwood considered the idea "substandard",[19] so he convinced the staff to make an original story. Along with Noah Falstein, Barwood and the LucasArts staff ended up creating the 1992 adventure game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis,[11] which was a success. In the game, Indiana Jones along with his sidekick Sophia Hapgood travels around Europe in order to find the legendary lost city of Atlantis before the Nazis could find it.

Due to the successful reception of Fate of Atlantis, Barwood along Joe Pinney, Bill Stoneham and Aric Wilmunder conceived a sequel to Fate entitled Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix, in which after World War II, Indiana Jones would need to defeat Neo-Nazis in order to prevent Adolf Hitler's resurrection in Bolivia with the Philosopher's Stone. However, the title was cancelled after LucasArts became aware that with how the story dealt with Neo-Nazism would affect the game's sales at Germany, which was an important overseas market for adventure games at that time. Still wanting to do one more Indiana Jones graphic adventure, Wilmunder wanted to do one entitled Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny, but it was also scrapped.[20] Despite this, both the Iron Phoenix and the Spear of Destiny stories were later adapted into four-part comic books by Dark Horse Comics.

In 1995, Barwood worked on Big Sky Trooper and directed the live-action sequences of Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire, both released that same year and receiving mixed reviews. He later went to work in desktops games, Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures and Star Wars: Yoda Stories, released in 1996 and 1997 respectively. Both games were successes.[21] After Yoda Stories, Barwood returned to make another Indiana Jones game. His original idea was to use the Roswell UFO incident as the story's plot device, but George Lucas prevented him from doing this, so he opted to make a new story.[22] The game became Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, in which Indiana Jones, along with Sophia Hapgood, want to find the Infernal Machine, a mythological Babylonian power source, before the Soviets could do it. Infernal Machine, as being the series' first 3D installment video game, was released in 1999 and became a success like Fate of Atlantis.[23] That same year, in August, PC Gamer magazine designated Barwood as one of the top 25 game designers in the United States.[24]

Following the release of Infernal Machine, Barwood worked on RTX Red Rock and revised the story of Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, another Indiana Jones video game; it involves Indiana Jones searching the tomb of the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang before the Nazis and a Chinese Triad can find it. Both Red Rock and Emperor's Tomb were released in 2003, the former with negative reviews and the latter to critical acclaim.[19][25] After the release of Emperor's Tomb, Barwood retired from making video games for LucasArts, although eight years later, he briefly returned in 2011 to work in cooperation with Zynga in the Facebook online video game Indiana Jones Adventure World,[26] which was discontinued in 2012.

Creation of Finite Arts and later games (2003-2009)[edit]

Following his departure from LucasArts in 2003, Barwood founded his own video game company named Finite Arts. Its first projects were the PC games Phlinx to go and Zengems, released in 2005 and 2007. Both were well received.

In 2008–2009, Barwood served as the lead designer for Mata Hari,[27] a World War I spy action adventure game developed by German studio Cranberry Production. It received positive reviews.[28] Also, in 2009, Barwood wrote Mobster 2: Vendetta, the second installment of the Mobsters video game franchise which was released that same year.[17]

Future projects[edit]

On April 3, 2017, during an interview with Arcade Attack, Barwood stated that although he liked very much working on Indiana Jones video games, he had no desire to make any new titles. However, he stated that he had finished his fourth novel and is currently writing his fifth novel, entitled Happenstance.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Barwood is married to his childhood sweetheart Barbara Ward, who works as a teacher. They live in California.[2]


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1970 The Great Walled City of Xan Yes Yes Yes Short film
1974 The Sugarland Express Yes
1976 The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings Yes
1977 MacArthur Yes
1978 Corvette Summer Yes Yes
1981 Dragonslayer Yes Yes
1985 Warning Sign Yes Yes Yes Directorial debut
Other credits
Year Title Role
1971 THX 1138 Titles / animator
1975 Jaws Uncredited writer
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind Uncredited writer / Cameo as "Returnee #2 Flt. 19"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Director /
Writer Game
1992 Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis Yes Story
Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis: The Action Game Story
1995 Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire Yes
Big Sky Trooper Yes Story Also producer
1996 Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures Yes Story Yes
1997 Star Wars: Yoda Stories Yes Story Yes
1999 Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine Yes Yes Yes
2003 RTX Red Rock Yes Yes Yes
2007 ZenGems Yes
2008 Mata Hari Story Yes


  • Dragonslayer: The Screenplay (2002) co-author (with Matthew Robbins)
  • Shadowcop: A Paranormal Adventure (2013)
  • Broomhandle: A Paranormal Adventure (2014)
  • Whiskeyjack: A Paranormal Adventure (2015)
  • Glitterbush: An Astrobotanical Adventure (2016)
  • Happenstance (TBA)


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Screen: Saga of a Car In 'Corvette Summer': A Double Debut," New York Times (August 4, 1978). Accessed May 18, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Hal Barwood interview | LucasArts | Star Wars". Hal Barwood interview | LucasArts | Star Wars. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  3. ^ The Sugarland Express (1974) - IMDb, retrieved May 31, 2020
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Sugarland Express". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
  5. ^ "The Sugarland Express". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  6. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ MacArthur (1977), retrieved May 31, 2020
  8. ^ Morton, Ray (2007). Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg's Classic Film. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. p. 298. ISBN 978-1-55783-710-3.
  9. ^ Corvette Summer (1978), retrieved May 31, 2020
  10. ^ The Art of Ralph McQuarrie, page 106.
  11. ^ a b "Hal Credits". Hal Barwood / Finite Arts. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
  12. ^ "Dragonslayer". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  13. ^ Von Gunden, Kenneth Flights of Fancy: The Great Fantasy Films, McFarland, 1989, ISBN 0-7864-1214-3
  14. ^ Warning Sign (1985), retrieved May 31, 2020
  15. ^ "Warning Sign". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  16. ^ "Games". www.finitearts.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 1, 2008. Retrieved July 19, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Bevan, Mike (2008). "The Making of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis". Retro Gamer Magazine. Imagine Publishing Ltd. (51): 44–49.
  19. ^ a b "Interview with Indiana Jones video game producer, Hal Barwood - The Indiana Jones Experience". www.theindyexperience.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  20. ^ "Adventure-Treff". May 27, 2008. Archived from the original on May 27, 2008. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  21. ^ "Video Game Reviews, Articles, Trailers and more - Metacritic". www.gamerankings.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  22. ^ "Hal Barwood - Finite Arts - Interview - Adventure Classic Gaming - ACG - Adventure Games, Interactive Fiction Games - Reviews, Interviews, Features, Previews, Cheats, Galleries, Forums". www.adventureclassicgaming.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  23. ^ "Video Game Reviews, Articles, Trailers and more - Metacritic". www.metacritic.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  24. ^ Paul Fuhr. "Interview with Hal Barwood". Rain Farm Press. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
  25. ^ "RTX Red Rock Review". GameSpot. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  26. ^ "Indy no longer anti-social thanks in part to Hal Barwood". The International House of Mojo. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  27. ^ "Hal Barwood interview". Adventure Classic Gaming. Retrieved January 4, 2009.
  28. ^ "Mata Hari review". Adventure Gamers. August 7, 2009. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  29. ^ "Hal Barwood (Lucasfilm) - Interview". Arcade Attack. April 3, 2017. Retrieved May 31, 2020.

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