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Michael Dougherty

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Michael Dougherty
Dougherty at the Godzilla Minus One premiere in 2023
Michael Patrick Dougherty

(1974-10-28) October 28, 1974 (age 49)
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • comic book creator
Years active1996–present

Michael Patrick Dougherty (born October 28, 1974) is an American writer, director, animator, and producer known for his work in a variety of genre films, both big and small.

Beginning his career as an animator and illustrator, Dougherty’s animated work was featured on MTV, Nickelodeon, and a line of "twisted" greeting cards published by NobleWorks. He then co-wrote the blockbuster films X2 and Superman Returns before making his directorial debut with the horror comedy, Trick ‘r Treat (2009). Dougherty then directed and co-wrote the holiday horror comedy Krampus (2015). Dougherty co-wrote and directed the blockbuster Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and co-wrote the story for its sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). Collectively, Dougherty's work has grossed over two billion dollars at the box office.[1]

Early life


Dougherty was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He attended the Tisch School of Arts at New York University in the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, which is where he produced his 1996 short film Season's Greetings.[2]

He is of Vietnamese descent on his mother's side[3] and Irish and Hungarian descent on his father's. He was raised Catholic.



Dougherty made his directorial and writing debut with the animated short film Season's Greetings, which was released in 1996.[4] The hand-drawn short film marked the debut of "Sam", the pint-sized spirit of Halloween who would later become the star of Trick 'r Treat. Michael was also an animator on the Nick Jr. series Blue's Clues and Little Bill at Nick Digital.[5]

Dougherty went on to co-write several screenplays, including the superhero sequel X2, which was released in 2003.[6] He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 2005 supernatural horror film Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, and Superman Returns, which was released in 2006.[7]

Dougherty made his feature directorial debut with the horror anthology film Trick 'r Treat, starring Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, and Brian Cox. It played at several film festivals, before being released on DVD on October 6, 2009, in the US and Canada.[8] It received acclaim and went on to gain a cult following before finally being released theatrically in October 2022.[9] The short film Season's Greetings, which was the precursor to Trick 'r Treat, was released as a DVD extra and was aired on FEARnet in October 2013 as part of a 24-hour Trick 'r Treat marathon on Halloween.[10] Trick ‘r Treat has since become a perennial favorite that has spawned a growing line of toys, comics, theme park attractions, and Halloween decor, and a sequel is in development with Legendary Pictures.[citation needed]

Dougherty at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con

In December 2014, he began work on the holiday horror comedy Krampus, starring Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, and Allison Tolman, which was released to moderate critical and commercial success in December 2015.[11] Much like Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus has become an annual holiday classic.[12]

He also co-wrote the story for the film X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Dougherty directed the science fiction sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters, for which he wrote the script with Zach Shields, from a story he co-wrote with Shields and Max Borenstein.[13][14][15][16] The film, starring Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, and Ken Watanabe, was released in 2019, to mixed reviews; it grossed $386 million worldwide.

In April 2020, HBO was announced to be developing a Hellraiser television series that would serve as "an elevated continuation and expansion" of its mythology, with Mark Verheiden and Dougherty writing and David Gordon Green directing several episodes. The three will executive produce with Danny McBride, Jody Hill, Brandon James and Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment.[17]

Dougherty and Shields provided rewrites for Godzilla vs. Kong,[18] Starring Brian Tyree Henry, Rebecca Hall, and Alexander Skarsgård, but only retained a "Story By" credit along with Terry Rossio.[19] Dougherty and Shields provided "additional literary material" for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, along with James Ashcroft, Eli Kent, and Nicole Perlman.[20]


Year Title Director Writer Producer
2003 X2 No Yes No
2005 Urban Legends: Bloody Mary No Yes No
2006 Superman Returns No Yes No
2007 Trick 'r Treat Yes Yes Executive
2015 Krampus Yes Yes Yes
2016 X-Men: Apocalypse No Story No
2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters Yes Yes No
2021 Godzilla vs. Kong No Story No
2024 Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire No Additional No

Comic books


Dougherty has a long history with comic books, both as a fan and as a writer. Two of his early screenwriting credits, X-Men 2 and Superman Returns were based on the classic Marvel and DC characters, while his original feature films spawned their own graphic novels.

Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead (2015)

Co-written with Todd Casey, Zach Shields and Marc Andeyko, Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead featured four new short stories, spanning centuries, all of which feature the film's mascot character, Sam. They depict a variety of characters and cultures and how they celebrate Halloween, going back to the holiday's roots in ancient Ireland. Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead was a New York Times best seller,[21] debuting at number nine on its list of paperback graphic novels.

Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas (2015)

Published as a tie-in to Krampus, Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas featured three stories which expand the mythology of the Krampus creature, and was co-written by Todd Casey, Zach Shields, and Laura Shields.


Year Association Category Work Result
1997 Chicago International Film Festival Student Animated Short Season's Greetings Won
2004 Saturn Awards Best Writing X2 Nominated
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form Nominated
2007 Saturn Awards[22] Best Writing Superman Returns Won
2008 Screamfest Horror Film Festival Audience Award Trick 'r Treat Won
2009 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Best Film Nominated
Fright Meter Awards Best Director[23] Won
Best Screenplay Nominated
2015 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Best Movie Krampus Nominated
2016 Horror Society Awards Best Horror Film Nominated
Fright Meter Awards Best Director Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Wide-Release Film Nominated
2020 Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Godzilla: King of the Monsters Nominated


  1. ^ "Michael Dougherty - Box Office". The Numbers. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  2. ^ TRICK 'R TREATing with Michael Dougherty Archived October 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ @Mike_Dougherty (May 11, 2020). "This is my mom. She fled Vietnam during the war so I could know the joys of pizza, Halloween, and horror movies. Th..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ "Cool Horror Videos: Michael Dougherty's Season's Greetings – the short that inspired Trick 'R Treat". JoBlo. October 23, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  5. ^ Levy, David B. (November 26, 2007). "Animondays: The long shadow of Little Bill and a Little Blue Puppy". Animondays. Retrieved July 2, 2024.
  6. ^ Grove, Martin A. (April 11, 2003). "Fox's X2 marks spot as presummer starts May 2". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  7. ^ Jeff Jensen (June 23, 2006). "Greatest American Hero?". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on July 1, 2012.
  8. ^ Stax (April 16, 2003). "10 Questions: Mike Dougherty & Dan Harris". IGN. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  9. ^ "Trick 'R Treat is coming to theaters for the first time ever". The A.V. Club. September 3, 2022. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  10. ^ Lane, David (October 28, 2013). "FEARnet Airing a 24-Hour Marathon of TRICK 'R TREAT's on Halloween with Giveaways and New Content by Director Michael Dougherty". Collider. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  11. ^ Barton, Steve (December 19, 2014). "Mike Dougherty and Legendary Spread Some Christmas Fear". Dreadcentral.com. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  12. ^ Horn, Michael Donovan (December 25, 2022). "Michael Dougherty's 'Krampus' Is a Holiday Horror Classic". Collider. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 20, 2016). "Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields to Write 'Godzilla 2' for Legendary (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  14. ^ Hayes, Britt (October 21, 2016). "Exclusive: 'Godzilla 2' May Be Helmed by 'Krampus' Director Michael Dougherty". Screen Crush. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  15. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 23, 2017). "'Godzilla 2' Finds Director in Michael Dougherty". Variety. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  16. ^ "Mike Dougherty Confirms the Title is Godzilla: King of "THE" Monsters". Scified. January 29, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  17. ^ Throne, Will (April 27, 2020). "'Hellraiser' Series in Development at HBO". Variety. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  18. ^ Tyler, Jacob (March 5, 2019). "Godzilla vs. Kong Got Rewrites From Mike Dougherty & Zach Shields". Omega Underground. Archived from the original on March 14, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  19. ^ "Godzilla vs. Kong - WGA Directory". Writers Guild of America West. Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  20. ^ "Origins - WGA Directory". Writers Guild of America West. Retrieved April 26, 2023.
  21. ^ "Paperback Graphic Books - Best Sellers - Books - Oct. 25, 2015 - The New York Times". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  22. ^ "'Superman' tops Saturns". Variety. May 10, 2007. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  23. ^ "2009 Fright Meter Awards". Fright Meter. 2009. Retrieved June 9, 2021.