Joe Johnston

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Joe Johnston
Joe Johnston.jpg
Johnston at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Joseph Eggleston Johnston II

(1950-05-13) May 13, 1950 (age 69)
Austin, Texas, United States
EducationArt Center College of Design
Alma materCalifornia State University
OccupationFilm director, film producer, effects artist, art director
Years active1977–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 Johnston II[1] (born May 13, 1950)[1] is an American film director and former visual 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). Johnston also directed the biographical drama October Sky (1999).

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.

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 directed the thriller Not Safe for Work for Blumhouse Productions.

On December 12, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Johnston would helm 32 days of reshoots on the film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms due to its director Lasse Hallström being unavailable.[10]


Feature films[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Notes
1988 Willow No Associate Directed by Ron Howard
1989 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Yes No Directorial Debut
1991 The Rocketeer Yes No
1994 The Pagemaster Yes No Live-action sequences
1995 Jumanji Yes No
1999 October Sky Yes No
2001 Jurassic Park III Yes No
2004 Hidalgo Yes No
2010 The Wolfman Yes No
2011 Captain America: The First Avenger Yes Executive
2014 Not Safe for Work Yes No
2018 The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Yes No Director of reshoots and oversaw post-production[11]
Received co-director credit along with Lasse Hallström[12]

Technical credits[edit]

Year Title Director Notes
1977 Star Wars George Lucas Visual effects artist
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Irvin Kershner Visual effects artist and art director
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Steven Spielberg
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
1989 Always Steven Spielberg Aerial sequence designer
1999 The Iron Giant Brad Bird Designer of the Iron Giant


Year Title Director Executive
Screenwriter Notes
1985 Star Wars: Droids – The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO No No Yes Episode "Coby and the Starhunters"
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Yes No No Episode "Princeton, February 1916"
2015 Lumen Yes Yes No TV movie
2017 The Creeps No Yes No TV Short

Technical credits[edit]

Year Title Roles
1978–1979 Battlestar Galactica Effects illustration and design
1984 The Ewok Adventure Production Designer;
TV movie
1985 Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
1986 Star Wars: Droids – The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO TV Special ''The Great Heep"
Design consultant

Books written and illustrated[edit]


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 January 11, 2014.
  5. ^ "2004 interview with Joe Johnston. Retrieved 12 August 2012". March 8, 2004. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  6. ^ "2001 ''filmschoolrejects'' website interview with Joe Johnston. Retrieved 12 August 2012". July 18, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  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" Archived March 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Boxoffice, January 13, 2010
  10. ^ 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.
  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. ^ 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]