Max Landis

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Max Landis
Max Landis by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Landis at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1985-08-03) August 3, 1985 (age 35)
OccupationWriter, filmmaker
Years active2001–present
Parent(s)John Landis
Deborah Nadoolman Landis

Max Landis (/ˈlændɪs/; born August 3, 1985) is an American writer and filmmaker, and the son of director John Landis. He wrote scripts for the films Chronicle (2012), American Ultra (2015), Victor Frankenstein (2015), Bright (2017), and Shadow in the Cloud (2020), the last of which was rewritten after he was removed from the project. He directed the film Me Him Her (2015), produced the Syfy series Channel Zero (2016) and created the series Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (2016) for BBC America. He has also written limited series published by DC and Image Comics.

In both 2011 and 2012, he was listed among Forbes magazine's "30 Under 30" young people to watch in the entertainment industry.[1] Starting in 2017, Landis was accused of prior emotional and sexual abuse by several women.[2]

Early life[edit]

Landis was born in Beverly Hills, California, the son of director John Landis and costume designer and historian Deborah Nadoolman Landis.[3] His family is Jewish.[4] He left Beverly Hills High School for a therapeutic boarding school in Connecticut,[5] but still graduated with a Beverly Hills High School diploma.[6] Landis has stated that he has cyclothymia and dysgraphia.[5]


Max Landis appeared briefly in some of his father's films, including The Stupids, Blues Brothers 2000, and Burke and Hare.[7] He started writing at 16,[8] and sold his first script at the age of 18, a collaboration with his father on the Masters of Horror episode "Deer Woman".[9] In 2008 he independently wrote an unaired episode for the series' second incarnation as Fear Itself.[10] The same year, he wrote Back to Mysterious Island (based on the Jules Verne novel) for Bluewater Comics.[11]

While attending the University of Miami,[12] Landis wrote shorts which were produced by students in the school's film program. Upon leaving the university, he went on what one contemporary reporter called a "spec-selling streak", having three of his pitches optioned within six months.[13] One of these was Good Time Gang, described as "a cross between The Bourne Identity and Jackass", which was not produced. He was hired in 2011 as screenwriter for Mr. Right, a violent romantic comedy[14] released to mixed reviews in 2015.[15]

He sold Chronicle, a script previously included on the Black List of promising unproduced screenplays,[16] to 20th Century Fox's Davis Entertainment. Directed by Josh Trank,[17] it was released in February 2012 to critical acclaim and commercial success. Landis wrote a draft for a sequel, but Fox was unhappy with it and the project was discontinued.[18][19] Davis and Fox also bought Landis' script for a film based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein,[20] which became 2015's Victor Frankenstein.

Landis has written and directed two short comedic features released on YouTube. The Death and Return of Superman (2012) mockingly retells DC Comics' 1992–1993 story-line of Superman's death and revival, with scenes acted out by his friends and Hollywood actors.[21] Wrestling Isn't Wrestling (2015) explains the nature of professional wrestling using the career of wrestler Triple H as an example, with several actors and wrestlers in cameos.[22] Landis was later hired as a consultant for WWE Raw.[23]

In September 2012, Landis sold a "superhero police drama" TV series titled Vigilant to Fox, and planned to executive produce it with Homeland producer Howard Gordon,[24] but the project was cancelled. In 2012 Landis began work on his directorial debut, Me Him Her,[25][26][27][28] which received a limited released in March 2016 to mixed reviews.[29][30] The 2015 film American Ultra, based on his screenplay, received mixed reviews and disappointing box office results.[31][32]

In February 2015, Landis directed Ariana Grande's music video "One Last Time".[33] He was accused of plagiarizing the style and themes of the video from the music video for "You Are the One" by Australian band SAFIA.[34]

In 2016, Netflix began production on Landis' script for Bright, then its most expensive self-produced film.[35] Featuring magical fantasy characters such as orcs as an allegory for racism, the film was critically panned upon its release in December 2017,[36] but Netflix reported that it was popular with its subscribers.[37]

In September 2017, Landis published a website called "A Scar No One Else Can See", which contained a 150-page theory on the themes of Carly Rae Jepsen's songs,[38] arguing that they present a dark, three-part narrative about heartbreak and rejection.[39] Although Landis called the project a "celebration" of Jepsen, The Daily Dot and described the document as a conspiracy theory,[40][41] and Reid McCarter of The A.V. Club dismissed its conclusions as unremarkable.[42]

Landis wrote a draft of the screenplay for Shadow in the Cloud (2020) before being removed from the project due to sexual assault allegations. Although the script was re-written by Roseanne Liang, he received credit per Writers Guild of America rules.[43][44]

In February 2020, Landis announced Glass Planet Consulting, a "creative coaching and consulting resource for screenwriters living and working in Los Angeles".[45][46]


Landis has been criticized for statements he has made about women, and he has been accused of abuse and sexual misconduct by several women and industry figures.[47][48][49]

Misogyny accusations[edit]

In a 2013 interview with self-styled sexologist Shelby Sells, Landis made numerous comments about women, such as "the most fucked up thing was that I cheated on a girl who I also gave a crippling social anxiety, self-loathing, body dysmorphia, eating disorder to".[50] Landis' statements were sharply criticized as misogynist and objectifying of women, such as in a Jezebel piece which described his comments as "obnoxious", "twisted", and "gross".[49][50][51][52]

In a 2015 Twitter post, Landis described the lead character Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a "Mary Sue", a term originating in critiques of fan fiction to describe "a type of female character who is depicted as unrealistically lacking in flaws or weaknesses".[53] He later stated in an interview that he stood by his criticism, but "I regret framing it that way. I didn't understand that the term 'Mary Sue' had been co-opted".[48][51]

Sexual assault accusations[edit]

In December 2017, Landis was accused of sexual assault by former co-worker Anna Akana. MAD Magazine editor Allie Goertz had commented several weeks earlier about "a famous director's son," that she "couldn't imagine someone more scared in a post-Harvey Weinstein world," and various entertainment-industry figures commented in response about this person's bad reputation without naming him.[49][54][55][56][57] Following Akana's statement, other industry figures confirmed Landis' reputation by name.[54] Anti-harassment activist Zoe Quinn posted about Landis, alleging that his abuse of women was an "open secret" in Hollywood, and that they'd been withholding the story because "him & his dad are powerful figures."[49]

In June 2019, Landis' former girlfriend Whitney Moore posted on Twitter about him, referring to "horrific, inhumane things he did to me",[58] and The Daily Beast published accusations from eight women about emotional and sexual abuse by him, one describing him as "a serial rapist, gaslighter, physical and psychological abuser."[2][59][60] In a Twitter post expressing support for Landis' accusers, Chronicle director Josh Trank said that he had banned the writer from the set during filming.[61][62][63][64] Landis' management company Writ Large and his manager Britton Rizzio stated that they had dropped him "as soon as they heard about" the Daily Beast story.[63][64][65][66] After the news broke, MGM shelved production of Deeper, a film script by Landis the studio had previous won in a bidding war.[67]



Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Executive
2012 Chronicle Yes Story co-written with Josh Trank
2015 Me Him Her Yes Yes
American Ultra Yes
Mr. Right Yes Yes
Victor Frankenstein Yes Based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
2017 Bright Yes Yes
2020 Shadow in the Cloud Yes


Year Title Credited as Notes Ref.
Writer Executive producer
2005 Masters of Horror Yes 1 episode: "Deer Woman"
2009 Fear Itself Yes 1 episode: "Something with Bite"
2016–2017 Channel Zero Yes Name removed from credits after second season [68]
2016–2017 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Yes Yes Creator; based on the novels by Douglas Adams. [69]

Short film[edit]

Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
2012 The Death and Return of Superman Yes Yes Role: Himself
2015 Wrestling Isn't Wrestling Yes Yes Yes Role: Himself

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role
2007 Trailers from Hell Himself as commentator
2015–2017 Movie Fights Himself as competitor (6 episodes)
2015 Best of the Worst Himself
2016 Honest Trailers Writer: "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"
2017 Lasagna Cat Himself (voice), Episode: "Sex Survey Results"

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist Role
2015 "One Last Time" Ariana Grande Director

Acting credits[edit]

Year Title Role
1996 The Stupids Graffiti artist
1998 Blues Brothers 2000 Ghostrider
2010 Burke & Hare Handsome coachman
2015 Me Him Her Party bystander


Year Title Role Publisher Awards
2014 SCP-2137 – The Forensic Ghost of Tupac Shakur Writer SCP Foundation
2016 Superman: American Alien Writer DC Comics Will Eisner Award Nomination – Best Writer[70]
2016 Green Valley Writer Image Comics
2020 Polybius (Stage play manuscript) Writer Self-published


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