Joe Johnston

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Joe Johnston
EducationArtCenter College of Design
Alma materCalifornia State University
  • Film director
  • film producer
  • effects artist
  • art director
  • writer
Years active1977–present
Notable work

Joe Johnston (born c. 1950) is an American film director, producer, writer, and visual effects artist. He is best known for directing effects-driven films, including Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989); The Rocketeer (1991); Jumanji (1995); Jurassic Park III (2001); The Wolfman (2010); and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

Early life[edit]

Johnston was born in Austin, Texas,[1] and attended California State University, Long Beach, and Pasadena's Art Center College of Design, both for industrial design.


Design and visual effects[edit]

Much of the work at the beginning of Johnston's screen career combined design and special effects. He began his career as a concept artist and effects technician on the first Star Wars film, directed by George Lucas, co-created the design of Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back,[2] and was art director on one of the effects teams for the sequel Return of the Jedi. His association with Lucas would later prove fruitful, when he became one of four to win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for Lucas and Steven Spielberg's film Raiders of the Lost Ark.[3] Johnston continued to work on many films as an effects expert.

He was also associate producer on fantasy Willow, and production designer on two mid-80s TV movies which featured the Ewoks seen in Return of the Jedi.

Johnston is also author of Star Wars novel The Adventures of Teebo: A Tale of Magic and Suspense, which ties into Return of the Jedi (New York: Random House, 1984; ISBN 0-394-86568-5, ISBN 0-394-96568-X).[4]

In 1984, now 34, Johnston went to Lucas and stated his desire to leave Lucasfilm for a year. However, Lucas offered him to go to USC School of Cinematic Arts and study there for a year, complete with paid tuition and half-salary that would let Johnston take any class he wanted.[5][6] Johnston left after a year, saying he "was asked not to return" because he "broke too many rules".[7]


Johnston made his directorial debut in 1989 with hit comedy adventure Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, starring Rick Moranis. He followed it with comic-book adaptation The Rocketeer (1991). The film was a commercial failure, as was his next, the animated and live-action The Pagemaster, starring Macaulay Culkin. Johnston rebounded, directing the family hit Jumanji, starring Robin Williams. The film overcame lukewarm reviews to gross over $260 million.[8]

Johnston was set to direct Hulk,[9] but dropped out in July 1997. Johnston then switched gears from effects-driven action films to the more personal October Sky (1999), starring a teenage Jake Gyllenhaal as a 1950s West Virginia high school student who dreams of being a rocket scientist for NASA against his father's wishes.

Johnston's first project of the 2000s was the sequel Jurassic Park III, which made over US$300 million at the box office. Johnston followed it with western Hidalgo, starring Viggo Mortensen. Johnston then took a six-year directorial break before signing on at a month's notice to take over the 2010 remake of 1941 horror classic The Wolfman. Shot in England, the film starred Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.

In part thanks to his experience with the period superhero film The Rocketeer, Johnston was selected to direct Marvel Studios superhero adaptation Captain America: The First Avenger. Released on July 22, 2011,[10] the film stars Chris Evans as the comic book hero and Hugo Weaving as his archenemy the Red Skull. In 2012, Johnston directed the thriller Not Safe for Work for Blumhouse Productions.

On December 12, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Johnston would direct 32 days of reshoots on the film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, due to its director Lasse Hallström being unavailable.[11]

On December 5, 2019, it was reported that Joe Johnston was in negotiations with Disney to direct Shrunk, a legacy sequel to Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.[12][13]




Year Title Notes
1989 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
1991 The Rocketeer
1994 The Pagemaster Live-action sequences
1995 Jumanji
1999 October Sky
2001 Jurassic Park III
2004 Hidalgo
2010 The Wolfman
2011 Captain America: The First Avenger Also executive producer
2014 Not Safe for Work
2018 The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Director of reshoots and oversaw post-production;[14]
Received co-director credit along with Lasse Hallström[15]


Year Title Notes
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Episode "Princeton, February 1916"
2015 Lumen TV movie;
Also executive producer

Other credits[edit]


Year Title Director Role
1977 Star Wars George Lucas Visual effects artist / Cameo as "Death Star Trooper"
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Irvin Kershner Visual effects artist and art director / Cameo as "Captain Shawn Valdez"
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Steven Spielberg Visual effects artist and art director
1983 Return of the Jedi Richard Marquand Art director
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Steven Spielberg
1986 Howard the Duck Willard Huyck Ultralight sequence designer
1987 Batteries Not Included Matthew Robbins Second unit director and production manager
1988 Willow Ron Howard Associate producer
1989 Always Steven Spielberg Aerial sequence designer
1999 The Iron Giant Brad Bird Designer of the Iron Giant
2014 The Lawful Truth Mollie Fitzgerald Cameo as "Captain Waters"


Year Title Role
1978–1979 Battlestar Galactica Effects illustration and design
1984 The Ewok Adventure Production designer (TV movie)
1985 Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
1985–1986 Star Wars: Droids – The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO Screenwriter (Episode "Coby and the Starhunters");
Design consultant (Special: ''The Great Heep")
2017 The Creeps Executive producer (TV short)
2020 Prop Culture Himself (Episode "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids")
2022 Light & Magic Himself (5 episodes)


  • 1977: The Star Wars Sketchbook
  • 1980: The Empire Strikes Back Sketchbook (with Nilo Rodis-Jamero)
  • 1983: Return of the Jedi Sketchbook (with Nilo Rodis-Jamero)
  • 1984: The Adventures of Teebo: A Tale of Magic and Suspense
  • 2005 : Star Wars : Aux origines du mythe (with Doug Chiang)
  • 2007 : The Hill Culture
  • 2011 : The Mack Marsden Murder Mystery


Year Award Category Film Result
1981 Academy Award Best Visual Effects
(Shared with Richard Edlund, Kit West and Bruce Nicholson)
Raiders of the Lost Ark Won
1990 International Fantasy Film Award Best Film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Nominated
1992 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation
(Shared with Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, William Dear
and Dave Stevens)
The Rocketeer Nominated
1995 International Fantasy Film Award Best Film
(Shared with Pixote Hunt)
The Pagemaster Nominated
1996 Saturn Award Best Director Jumanji Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Family Feature – Action-Adventure Won
1999 Ajijic International Film Festival Award Best Film October Sky Won
2001 Saturn Award Best Science Fiction Film Jurassic Park III Nominated
Golden Trailer Award Best Horror/Thriller Film Nominated
Golden Raspberry Award Worst Remake or Sequel Nominated
2004 Golden Trailer Award Best Drama Hidalgo Nominated
2010 Saturn Award Best Horror/Thriller Film The Wolfman Nominated
2012 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation
(Shared with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely)
Captain America: The First Avenger Nominated
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Award Best Film Nominated


  1. ^ Diaz, Victor. "Austin-born Oscar winner directs 'Captain America'" Archived March 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine,, July 22, 2011.
  3. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Film > Film Biography > Joe Johnston",, n.d.
  4. ^ Joe Johnston (1984). The Adventures of Teebo. OL 22325365M. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  5. ^ "2004 interview with Joe Johnston. Retrieved 12 August 2012". March 8, 2004. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  6. ^ "Back to Jurassic Park with Joe Johnston". July 17, 2001.
  7. ^ "2001 filmschoolrejects website interview with Joe Johnston. Retrieved 12 August 2012". July 18, 2011. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  8. ^ "Jumanji (1995) – Box Office Mojo".
  9. ^ Michael Fleming (April 14, 1997). "A Mania For Marvel". Variety. Retrieved November 10, 2008.
  10. ^ Nicholson, Amy. "Exclusive: 'Captain America' & 'JP4' News" Archived March 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Boxoffice, January 13, 2010
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (December 12, 2017). "Joe Johnston to Direct Disney's 'Nutcracker and the Four Realms' Reshoots (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (December 5, 2019). "'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' Director in Talks to Return for Reboot Starring Josh Gad (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 12, 2020). "Rick Moranis Closes Deal To Return To 'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids' Franchise With 'Shrunk' At Disney". Deadline Hollywood. As previously reported, the pic's original director Joe Johnston will be back
  14. ^ Kit, Borys (December 12, 2017). "Joe Johnston to Direct Disney's 'Nutcracker and the Four Realms' Reshoots (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  15. ^ Kit, Borys (July 5, 2018). "Lasse Hallstrom, Joe Johnston to Share Director Credit on 'Nutcracker and the Four Realms' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 5, 2018.

External links[edit]