Joe Johnston

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This article is about the film director. For similar names, see Joseph Johnston (disambiguation).
Joe Johnston
Joe Johnston 2010 Comic-Con Cropped.jpg
Johnston at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Born Joseph Eggleston Johnston II
(1950-05-13) May 13, 1950 (age 65)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Art Center College of Design
Alma mater California State University
Occupation Film director, film producer, effects artist, art director
Years active 1977–present
Notable work Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, Jumanji, October Sky, Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo, The Wolfman, Captain America: The First Avenger

Joseph Eggleston "Joe" Johnston II[1] (born May 13, 1950)[1] is an American film director and former effects artist best known for such effects-driven movies as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Jumanji (1995) and Jurassic Park III (2001). These movies include a number of period films such as The Rocketeer (1991), The Wolfman (2010), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). In 1999 Johnston won acclaim for the biographical drama October Sky.

Early life[edit]

Johnston was born in Austin, Texas,[2] and attended California State University, Long Beach, and Pasadena's Art Center College of 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, and was art director on one of the effects teams for the sequel. 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, Lucas gave Johnston a sabbatical, with salary, and paid his tuition to attend the USC School of Cinematic Arts.[5] Johnston left after a year, saying he "was asked not to return" because he "broke too many rules".[6]


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. Johnston rebounded, directing the family hit Jumanji, starring Robin Williams. The film overcame lukewarm reviews to gross over $260 million.[7]

Johnston was set to direct Hulk,[8] 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. Based on a true story, the film won Johnston both acclaim and awards.

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,[9] the film stars Chris Evans as the comic book hero and Hugo Weaving as his archenemy the Red Skull.

In 2012 Johnston began directing thriller Not Safe for Work.


Feature films[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Effects Artist Art Director Notes
1977 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Yes
1980 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Yes Yes
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Yes Yes
1983 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Yes
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Yes
1986 Howard the Duck Yes Ultralight sequence designer
1987 *batteries not included Second unit director, production manager
1988 Willow Yes
1989 Always Yes Aerial sequence designer
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Yes
1991 The Rocketeer Yes
1994 The Pagemaster Yes Live-action scenes
1995 Jumanji Yes
1999 October Sky Yes
2001 Jurassic Park III Yes
2004 Hidalgo Yes
2010 The Wolfman Yes
2011 Captain America: The First Avenger Yes
2014 Not Safe for Work Yes


Year Title Notes
1978–1979 Battlestar Galactica Effects illustration and design
1984 The Ewok Adventure Production Designer
TV movie
1985 Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
Star Wars: Droids Writer
Episode: "Coby and the Starhunters"
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Director
Episode: "Princeton, February 1916"

Critical reception[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes
*batteries not included (1987) 64%[10]
Willow (1988) 48%[11]
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) 73%[12]
The Rocketeer (1991) 61%[13]
The Pagemaster (1994) 18%[14]
Jumanji (1995) 50%[15]
October Sky (1999) 90%[16]
Jurassic Park III (2001) 50%[17]
Hidalgo (2004) 47%[18]
The Wolfman (2010) 35%[19]
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) 79%[20]
Not Safe for Work (2014) 27%[21]


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. ^ a b "Texas Birth Index, 1903–1997". [non-primary source needed]
  2. ^ Diaz, Victor. "Austin-born Oscar winner directs 'Captain America'",, July 22, 2011.
  3. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Film > Film Biography > Joe Johnston",, n.d.
  4. ^ Joe Johnston. "''The Adventures of Teebo''". Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  5. ^ "2004 interview with Joe Johnston. Retrieved 12 August 2012". 2004-03-08. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  6. ^ "2001 ''filmschoolrejects'' website interview with Joe Johnston. Retrieved 12 August 2012". 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  7. ^ "Jumanji (1995) - Box Office Mojo". 
  8. ^ Michael Fleming (April 14, 1997). "A Mania For Marvel". Variety. Retrieved November 10, 2008. 
  9. ^ Nicholson, Amy. "Exclusive: 'Captain America' & 'JP4' News". Boxoffice, January 13, 2010
  10. ^ "*batteries not included". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  11. ^ "Willow". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  12. ^ "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  13. ^ "The Rocketeer". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  14. ^ "The Pagemaster". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  15. ^ "Jumanji". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  16. ^ "October Sky". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  17. ^ "Jurassic Park III". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  18. ^ "Hidalgo". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  19. ^ "The Wolfman". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  20. ^ "Captain America: The First Avenger". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  21. ^ "Not Safe For Work". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-05-25. 

External links[edit]