John Debney

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John Debney
John Debney.JPG
Debney at ComicCon 2013
Background information
Birth name John C. Debney
Born (1956-08-18) August 18, 1956 (age 58)
Glendale, California, U.S.
Genres Film scores, soundtracks
Occupation(s) Composer, conductor
Instruments Keyboards

John C. Debney (born August 18, 1956) is an American film composer and conductor. He received an Academy Award nomination for his score for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004). He also composed the score for Cutthroat Island, which has been celebrated by music critics as a notable example of swashbuckling film music.[1][2][3][4]

Life and career[edit]

The son of Disney Studios producer Louis Debney (Zorro, The Mickey Mouse Club), John was born and raised in nearby Glendale, California, where he began guitar lessons at age six and played in rock bands in college. Debney earned his B.A. degree in Music Composition from the California Institute of Arts in 1979. Two weeks after graduating from CalArts, he got a job at copying department at Disney. One day, Buddy Baker saw him and had him arrange music that would later be used for different pavilions and rides at EPCOT Center (at Walt Disney World in Florida).[5] After three years at Disney, he freelanced for television composer Mike Post. Debney furthered his hands-on training by working with Hanna-Barbera composer Hoyt Curtin. After this, Debney went on to score television projects as diverse as Disneyland, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, SeaQuest DSV, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, The Cape, The Lazarus Man, Piggsburg Pigs!, The Further Adventures of SuperTed, Doctor Who, Cagney and Lacey, Tiny Toon Adventures, The Young Riders, The New Yogi Bear Show, Nightmare Classics, Police Academy: The Animated Series, Fame, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, Dragon's Lair, Freshman Dorm, Pop Quiz and Dink, the Little Dinosaur, for which he won an Emmy for Best Main Title. In the early 1990s, Debney began to score indie films and Disneyland attractions. In 1991, Debney composed the music for Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris. In 1993, he scored his first studio feature, the Disney comedy Hocus Pocus starring Bette Midler.

Debney has since gone on to have a career composing scores for many films including: The Passion of the Christ, Bruce Almighty, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Elf, Sin City, Chicken Little, Liar Liar, Spy Kids, Ice Age, The Scorpion King, The Princess Diaries[6] and Predators.[7]

Debney has also composed scores for the video games Lair and The Sims Medieval. In 2010, he composed the theme music for the Nickelodeon television series Supah Ninjas.



Year Title Director(s) Notes
1990 Jetsons: The Movie William Hanna
Joseph Barbara
The Face of Fear Farhad Mann Television film
1993 I Yabba-Dabba Do! William Hanna Television film
Jonny's Golden Quest Don Lusk
Paul Sommer
Television film
Hocus Pocus Kenny Ortega N/A
The Halloween Tree Mario Piluso Television film
The Town Santa Forgot Robert Alvarez Television film
Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby William Hanna Television film
1994 Gunmen Deran Sarafian N/A
White Fang 2: Myth of the White Wolf Ken Olin Also composed a theme for the Walt Disney logo.
Little Giants Duwayne Dunham N/A
1995 Houseguest Randall Miller N/A
Cutthroat Island Renny Harlin Score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
Sudden Death Peter Hyams N/A
1996 Doctor Who Geoffrey Sax Television film
Carpool Arthur Miller N/A
1997 The Relic Peter Hyams This score was entierely MIDI-generated.
Liar Liar Tom Shadyac Theme composed by James Newton Howard
I Know What You Did Last Summer Jim Gillespie N/A
1998 Paulie John Roberts N/A
I'll Be Home for Christmas Arlene Sanford N/A
1999 My Favorite Martian Donald Petrie N/A
Lost & Found Jeff Pollack N/A
Dick Andrew Fleming N/A
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland Gary Halvorson N/A
End of Days Peter Hyams N/A
2000 Relative Values Eric Styles N/A
Michael Jordan to the Max James D. Stern
Don Kempf
IMAX documentary
The Replacements Howard Deutch N/A
2001 See Spot Run John Whitssell N/A
Heartbreakers David Mirkin N/A
Spy Kids Robert Rodriguez with Danny Elfman and Robert Rodriguez
Cats & Dogs Lawrence Guterman N/A
The Princess Diaries Garry Marshall N/A
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius John A. Davis N/A
2002 Snow Dogs Brian Levant N/A
Dragonfly Tom Shadyac N/A
The Scorpion King Chuck Russell N/A
The Tuxedo Kevin Donovan with Christopher Beck
The Hot Chick Tom Brady N/A
2003 Elf Jon Favreau N/A
Bruce Almighty Tom Shadyac N/A
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Donald Petrie N/A
The Passion of the Christ Mel Gibson Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score at the 78th Academy Awards.
The Whole Ten Yards Howard Deutch N/A
Raising Helen Garry Marshall N/A
Spider-Man 2 Sam Raimi Additional music only.
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement Garry Marshall N/A
Christmas with the Kranks Joe Roth N/A
2005 The Pacifier Adam Shankman N/A
Sin City Robert Rodriguez with Robert Rodriguez and Graeme Revell
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D Robert Rodriguez with Robert Rodriguez and Graeme Revell
Duma Carroll Ballard with George Acogny
Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story John Gatins N/A
The Seed Joe Hahn with Unkle and Mike Shinoda. Short film.
Chicken Little Mark Dindal N/A
Zathura Jon Favreau N/A
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Adam Shankman N/A
2006 Keeping Up with the Steins Scott Marshall N/A
The Ant Bully John A. Davis N/A
Barnyard Steve Oedekerk N/A
Idlewild Bryan Barber N/A
Everyone's Hero Colin Brady
Dan St. Pierre
Christopher Reeve
2007 Spider-Man 3 Sam Raimi Additional music only.
Georgia Rule Garry Marshall N/A
Evan Almighty Tom Shadyac N/A
2008 Meet Dave Brian Robbins N/A
Swing Vote Joshua Michael Stern N/A
The Stoning of Soraya M. Cyrus Nowrasteh N/A
My Best Friend's Girl Howard Deutch N/A
2009 Hotel for Dogs Thor Freudenthal N/A
Hannah Montana: The Movie Peter Chelsom N/A
Aliens in the Attic John Schultz N/A
Old Dogs Walt Becker N/A
2010 Valentine's Day Garry Marshall N/A
Predators Nimród Antal N/A
Iron Man 2 Jon Favreau N/A
Yogi Bear Eric Brevig N/A
2011 No Strings Attached Ivan Reitman N/A
The Change-Up David Dobkin N/A
Dream House Jim Sheridan N/A
The Double Michael Brandt N/A
New Year's Eve Garry Marshall N/A
2012 A Thousand Words Brian Robbins N/A
The Three Stooges Farrelly brothers N/A
Alex Cross Rob Cohen N/A
2013 The Call Brad Anderson N/A
Jobs Joshua Michael Stern N/A
2014 Draft Day[8] Ivan Reitman N/A
Walk of Shame Steven Brill N/A
Stonehearst Asylum Brad Anderson N/A
Broken Horses Vidhu Vinod Chopra N/A
The Cobbler Thomas McCarthy N/A
2015 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water[8] Paul Tibbitt N/A
Paper Towns Jake Schreier N/A
2016 Christ the Lord Cyrus Nowrasteh N/A
Clifford the Big Red Dog David Bowers N/A
The Jungle Book Jon Favreau N/A
Mary, Mother of Christ Alister Grierson N/A
Year Film Director
1989-PAST Welcome to Pooh Corner (episode: "Too Smart For Strangers", as "MUSIC ARRANGED BY")
Seven Hours to Judgement (1988)
The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck (1988)
Not Since Casanova (1988)
The Wild Pair (1987)
The Day My Kid Went Punk (1987)
Philip F. Messina
Beau Bridges
David Keith
Brett Thompson
Beau Bridges


Year Award Result
2012 Emmy Award – Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (Original Dramatic Score): Hatfields & McCoys: Part 1 (2012) Nominated
2005 Academy Award – Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: The Passion of the Christ (2004) Nominated
1997 Emmy Award – Outstanding Main Title Theme Music: The Cape (1996) Nominated
1997 Emmy Award – Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore): The Cape: Pilot (1996) Won
1994 Emmy Award – Outstanding Individual Achievement in Main Title Theme Music: SeaQuest DSV (1993) Won
1991 Emmy Award – Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore): The Young Riders: Kansas (1989) Won
1990 Emmy Award – Outstanding Achievement in Main Title Theme Music: The Young Riders (1989) Nominated


  1. ^ "Cutthroat Island (John Debney)". Filmtracks. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  2. ^ "Cutthroat Island (John Debney) soundtrack review". 2009-02-28. Archived from the original on 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  3. ^ Other reviews by Mike Brennan (2005-05-12). "Soundtrack: CutThroat Island (2005)". Soundtrack.Net. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  4. ^ "Movie Music UK - Cutthroat Island – John Debney". 2010-01-13. Archived from the original on 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  5. ^ Burlingame, Jon (2009-11-10). "Go-to composer grew up in Disney family - Entertainment News, Billion-Dollar Composer: John Debney, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  6. ^ "John Debney to Score 'Predators' Prequel". Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  7. ^ "A Peek Behind the Scenes of a Predators Scoring Session". 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  8. ^ a b "John Debney to Score Ivan Reitman’s ‘Draft Day’ | Film Music Reporter". 25 November 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 

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