John Powell (film composer)

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John Powell
Powell in 2008
Powell in 2008
Background information
BornLondon, England
OriginEast Sussex, England
GenresFilm score
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor, producer
Years active1989–present
Labels5 Cat Studios
Websitejohnpowellmusic.com 5catstudios.com

John Powell is an English composer best known for his film scores. He has been based in Los Angeles since 1997 and has composed the scores to over 70 feature films.[1] He is best known for composing score for films, including Face/Off, the Bourne film series, the Happy Feet films, United 93, X-Men: The Last Stand, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, Migration, Drumline, The Call of the Wild, Bolt, eight Blue Sky Studios films, and nine DreamWorks Animation films.

His work on Happy Feet, Ferdinand and Solo: A Star Wars Story has earned him three Grammy nominations. He was nominated for an Academy Award for How to Train Your Dragon.[2]

Powell was a member of Hans Zimmer's music studio, Remote Control Productions, and has collaborated frequently with other composers from the studio, including Harry Gregson-Williams on Antz, Chicken Run and Shrek and Zimmer himself on Chill Factor, The Road to El Dorado, and the first two Kung Fu Panda films.

Early life and education[edit]

As a child, he played the violin and viola. His skill in the violin allowed him to study at Trinity College of Music, central London (now the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich, London). There, he met John Ashton Thomas, who orchestrated many of Powell's scores. Powell played for "Faboulistics", an amateur rock and roll band.[3]

After finishing college, he composed music for commercials, which led to a job as an assistant to the composer Patrick Doyle on several film productions, including Much Ado About Nothing.[4] In 1995, Powell co-founded the London-based commercial music house Independently Thinking Music with Gavin Greenaway,[5] which produced scores for more than 100 British and French commercials and independent films.

Career[edit]

Powell's first score was for the Season 4 of the TV series Stay Lucky. He moved to Los Angeles in 1997 and scored his first major film, Face/Off. It was followed by Antz in 1998, the first film produced by DreamWorks Animation, which he co-scored with fellow British composer Harry Gregson-Williams, which also marked the duo's first score for an animated film. Two years later, Powell collaborated with composer Hans Zimmer on the score for The Road to El Dorado. Later that year, he collaborated with Gregson-Williams again on the score to Chicken Run; they collaborated again the following year on Shrek. Gregson-Williams composed all the subsequent Shrek films himself. In 2001 he also scored Evolution, I Am Sam, Just Visiting and Rat Race.

In 2002 Powell was hired to score The Bourne Identity after Carter Burwell left the project, and has gone on to score all of director Doug Liman's subsequent films. He also returned to score the series' other two films, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, under British director Paul Greengrass.

Powell collaborated with Liman again to score Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). That year he also scored Robots for Blue Sky Studios, and went on to score many of the studio's subsequent films until 2017's Ferdinand.

In 2006, he scored Greengrass' United 93. He also composed music for his second Blue Sky film Ice Age: The Meltdown, following David Newman, who scored the first Ice Age film; as well as X-Men: The Last Stand and Happy Feet, for which he won a Film & TV Music Award for Best Score for an Animated Feature Film. The next year he scored The Bourne Ultimatum. In 2008 he reunited with Hans Zimmer and returned to DreamWorks Animation to score Kung Fu Panda, and also wrote music for Jumper, Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, Hancock, and Bolt. In 2009 he scored the third film of Ice Age series; Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

In 2010, Powell composed the score to How to Train Your Dragon, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. It was his sixth DreamWorks Animation film, although the first where he composed the whole score himself. That year he also scored Greengrass's Green Zone and Knight and Day.

In 2013, Powell took a sabbatical year from film scoring. In April 2014, after completing his scores to sequels Rio 2 and How to Train Your Dragon 2, he announced he would take another break to compose concert music, including a 45-minute oratorio to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of World War I. The piece, "A Prussian Requiem", with a libretto by Michael Petry, premiered on 6 March 2016 at The Royal Festival Hall, London with José Serebrier conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.[6]

Powell composed the score for Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018),[7] collaborating with John Williams, who wrote Han Solo's theme. In 2019, Powell scored How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the final film in the How to Train Your Dragon series. In January 2024, it was announced that Powell will return to compose the score for the live-action remake of How to Train Your Dragon.[8]

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

Year Title Creator Studio(s) Notes
1989-1993 Stay Lucky Geoff McQueen Yorkshire Television
1996-1997 High Incident Steven Spielberg
Michael Pavone
Eric Bogosian
Dave Alan Johnson
DreamWorks Television
2022 Ice Age: Scrat Tales[9] Chris Wedge[10] Blue Sky Studios (final animated production before shutting down)
20th Century Studios
20th Century Animation
Disney+
Music by Batu Sener
Writer and Composer for "Scrat Tales End Titles"

Film[edit]

1990s[edit]

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
1997 Face/Off John Woo Paramount Pictures (North America)
Touchstone Pictures (International)
1998 With Friends Like These... Philip Frank Messina Miramax Films
Endurance Leslie Woodhead
Bud Greenspan
Walt Disney Pictures Music produced by Hans Zimmer
Antz Eric Darnell
Tim Johnson
Pacific Data Images
DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Pictures
Co-composed with Harry Gregson-Williams
John Powell's first score for an animated film
1999 Forces of Nature Bronwen Hughes DreamWorks Pictures
Chill Factor Hugh Johnson Morgan Creek Productions
Warner Bros. Pictures
Co-composed with Hans Zimmer

2000s[edit]

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
2000 The Road to El Dorado Don Paul
Bibo Bergeron
DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Animation
Co-composed with Hans Zimmer
Chicken Run Peter Lord
Nick Park
Aardman
DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Pictures (International)
Pathé (Europe)
Co-composed with Harry Gregson-Williams
2001 Just Visiting Jean-Marie Poiré Gaumont
Hollywood Pictures
Shrek Andrew Adamson
Vicky Jenson
DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Animation
PDI/DreamWorks
Co-composed with Harry Gregson-Williams
Evolution Ivan Reitman The Montecito Picture Company
DreamWorks Pictures (North America)
Columbia Pictures (International)
Rat Race Jerry Zucker Fireworks Entertainment
Paramount Pictures
I Am Sam Jessie Nelson Bedford Falls Productions
New Line Cinema
Additional music by Heitor Pereira
2002 D-Tox Jim Gillespie DEJ Productions (North America)
United International Pictures (International)
The Bourne Identity Doug Liman The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Universal Pictures
Replaced Carter Burwell
Drumline Charles Stone III 20th Century Fox
The Adventures of Pluto Nash Ron Underwood Castle Rock Entertainment
Village Roadshow Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
Two Weeks Notice Marc Lawrence Castle Rock Entertainment
Village Roadshow Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
2003 Stealing Sinatra Ron Underwood Showtime Networks Television film
Agent Cody Banks Harald Zwart Maverick Films
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Italian Job F. Gary Gray Paramount Pictures
Gigli Martin Brest Casey Silver
Revolution Studios
Columbia Pictures
Paycheck John Woo Davis Entertainment
Paramount Pictures (North America)
DreamWorks Pictures (International)
2004 The Bourne Supremacy Paul Greengrass The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Universal Pictures
Mr. 3000 Charles Stone III The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Spyglass Entertainment
Dimension Films
Touchstone Pictures
Alfie Charles Shyer Paramount Pictures
2005 Be Cool F. Gary Gray Jersey Films
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Robots Chris Wedge 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
Mr. & Mrs. Smith Doug Liman Weed Road Pictures
Regency Enterprises
Summit Entertainment
20th Century Fox
2006 Ice Age: The Meltdown Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
Replaced David Newman
United 93 Paul Greengrass Sidney Kimmel Entertainment
Working Title Films
Studiocanal
Universal Pictures
X-Men: The Last Stand Brett Ratner Marvel Entertainment
20th Century Fox
Happy Feet George Miller Animal Logic
Kennedy Miller
Village Roadshow Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
Nominated for a Grammy award for "Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Media"
2007 The Bourne Ultimatum Paul Greengrass The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Universal Pictures
P.S. I Love You Richard LaGravenese Alcon Entertainment
Warner Bros. Pictures (North America)
Momentum Pictures (International)
2008 Jumper Doug Liman Regency Enterprises
20th Century Fox
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Jimmy Hayward
Steve Martino
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
Additional music by James McKee Smith, John Ashton Thomas, and Paul Mounsey.
Stop-Loss Kimberly Peirce MTV Films
Paramount Pictures
Kung Fu Panda John Stevenson
Mark Osborne
Paramount Pictures
DreamWorks Animation
Co-composed with Hans Zimmer
Hancock Peter Berg Overbrook Entertainment
Relativity Media
Columbia Pictures
Bolt Chris Williams
Byron Howard
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
2009 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey

2010s[edit]

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
2010 Green Zone Paul Greengrass Working Title Films
Universal Pictures
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
How to Train Your Dragon Chris Sanders
Dean DeBlois
Paramount Pictures
DreamWorks Animation
Nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Score
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
Fair Game Doug Liman River Road Entertainment
Summit Entertainment
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
Knight and Day James Mangold Media Rights Capital
Dune Entertainment
Regency Enterprises
20th Century Fox
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
2011 Mars Needs Moms Simon Wells Walt Disney Pictures
ImageMovers Digital
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
Rio Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
Kung Fu Panda 2 Jennifer Yuh Nelson Paramount Pictures
DreamWorks Animation
Co-composed with Hans Zimmer
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey and Dominic Lewis
Happy Feet Two George Miller Village Roadshow Pictures
Kennedy Miller Mitchell
Warner Bros. Pictures
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
2012 Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Chris Renaud Universal Pictures
Illumination Entertainment
Composed songs with lyrics by Cinco Paul
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
Ice Age: Continental Drift Steve Martino
Mike Thurmeier
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
Additional Music by Paul Mounsey
2014 Rio 2 Carlos Saldanha Additional Music by Anthony Willis & Paul Mounsey
How to Train Your Dragon 2[11] Dean DeBlois 20th Century Fox
DreamWorks Animation
Additional Music by Anthony Willis & Paul Mounsey
2015 Pan Joe Wright RatPac-Dune Entertainment
Warner Bros. Pictures
Additional Music by Anthony Willis, Batu Sener & Paul Mounsey
2016 Jason Bourne Paul Greengrass Perfect World Pictures
Captivate Entertainment
Pearl Street Films
The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Universal Pictures
Co-composed with David Buckley
Additional Music by Batu Sener
2017 Ferdinand Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
Davis Entertainment
Also conductor.
Nominated for a Grammy award for "Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella"
Additional Music by Batu Sener, Anthony Willis & Paul Mounsey
2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story[12] Ron Howard Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Lucasfilm Ltd.
Nominated for a Grammy award for "Best Instrumental Composition"
Han Solo Theme & Original Star Wars Music by John Williams.
Additional Music by Batu Sener, Anthony Willis & Paul Mounsey.
2019 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World[13] Dean DeBlois Universal Pictures
DreamWorks Animation
Additional Music by Batu Sener, Anthony Willis & Paul Mounsey

2020s[edit]

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
2020 The Call of the Wild[14] Chris Sanders 20th Century Studios
TSG Entertainment
3 Arts Entertainment
Also conductor.
Additional Music by Batu Sener & Paul Mounsey
2021 Locked Down[15] Doug Liman Warner Bros. Pictures
AGC Studios
Storyteller Productions
Hypnotic
Nebulastar
HBO Max
Additional Music by Batu Sener
2022 Don't Worry Darling[16] Olivia Wilde Warner Bros. Pictures
New Line Cinema
Vertigo Entertainment
Additional Music by Batu Sener
2023 Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie Davis Guggenheim Apple TV+ Documentary

Additional Music by Batu Sener

Migration[17] Benjamin Renner Universal Pictures
Illumination
Animated film

Additional Music by Batu Sener & Peter Davison[18]

2024 Thelma the Unicorn[19] Jared Hess
Lynn Wang
Netflix
Netflix Animation
Scholastic Entertainment
Animated film

Additional Music by Batu Sener[20]

That Christmas[21][22] Simon Otto Netflix
Netflix Animation
Locksmith Animation
Animated film

Additional Music by Batu Sener, Anthony Willis & Markus Siegel[23]

2025 How to Train Your Dragon[24] Dean DeBlois Universal Pictures Live-action reboot

Studio Albums[edit]

Year Title Category Notes Label Catalogue Number
2018 Hubris: Choral Works by John Powell[25] Classical First release on John Powell’s own label, 5 Cats Studios.

John Powell's 1st original project.

Performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra.

5 Cat Studios FCS001
2020 Piano Solos from "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World"[26] Solo Piano Music by John Powell.

Piano solos performed by Batu Sener.

FCS005
Piano Solos from "The Call of the Wild" FCS007
Film Suites, Vol. 1 Classical Performed with Jose Serebrier, Philharmonia Orchestra, and The Philharmonia Voices. FCS010

Archival soundtrack albums[edit]

Year Title Notes Label Catalogue Number
2020 Forces of Nature (Music from the Motion Picture) Released on Audio CD.

Limited 1000 copies. Co-composed with Oliver J. Lieber

The first awaiting official score album since the 1999 film debut.

Includes 2 bonus tracks/demos.

5 Cat Studios, La-La Land Records
How to Train Your Dragon (The Deluxe Edition)[27] Deluxe Edition of the 2010 film score.

Includes alternate versions and demos.

5 Cat Studios, Varèse Sarabande
Solo: A Star Wars Story (Deluxe Edition) Deluxe Edition of the 2018 film score.

Includes over 2 hours of original/unedited music as written for the film, and an end credits suite.

Han Solo Theme & Original Star Wars Music by John Williams.

Additional Music by Batu Sener, Anthony Willis & Paul Mounsey.

5 Cat Studios, Walt Disney Records
2021 Paycheck: The Deluxe Edition (Music From The Motion Picture)[28] Deluxe Edition of the 2003 film score.

This Deluxe Edition greatly expands the playing time to over 95 minutes.[28]

5 Cat Studios, Varèse Sarabande
2022 How to Train Your Dragon 2 (The Deluxe Edition) Deluxe Edition of the 2014 film score.

Includes alternate versions and demos.

5 Cat Studios, Varèse Sarabande, Back Lot Music
The Bourne Identity (Tumescent Edition) Expanded score with alternate versions of cues. 5 Cat Studios, Varèse Sarabande 888072412774
2024 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (The Deluxe Edition)[29] Deluxe Edition of the 2019 film score.

Includes alternate versions and demos.

5 Cat Studios, Varèse Sarabande

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "John Powell". IMDb. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  2. ^ "From Gigli to Oscar: Composer John Powell Reacts to His Nomination". Movieline. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  3. ^ "John Powell - Composer Biography, Facts and Music Compositions". FAMOUS COMPOSERS. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Much Ado About Nothing · British Universities Film & Video Council". bufvc.ac.uk. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  5. ^ "John Powell receives IFMCA Award for The Call of the Wild". IFMCA: International Film Music Critics Association. 20 August 2021. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  6. ^ "John Powell's 'A Prussian Requiem' to be performed live in London". SoundtracksAndTrailerMusic.com. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  7. ^ "John Powell On Scoring The "Completely Absorbing World" of Solo: A Star Wars Story". Star Wars. 10 September 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  8. ^ Gearan, Hannah (16 February 2023). "How To Train Your Dragon Live-Action Movie Bringing Back Key Original Creator". ScreenRant. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  9. ^ "Batu Sener Scoring Disney+'s 'Ice Age: Scrat Tales' | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Ice Age: Scrat Tales". ComicBook. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  11. ^ V., Erin (2 April 2012). "Interview: Dean DeBlois, director of 'How To Train Your Dragon'". One Movie, Five Views. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  12. ^ "John Powell to Score Untitled Han Solo Movie". Star Wars. Lucasfilm. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  13. ^ "How to Train Your Dragon 3 Pushed Back to 2017". ComingSoon.net. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  14. ^ "Soundtrack.net".
  15. ^ "John Powell Scoring Doug Liman's 'Locked Down'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  16. ^ "John Powell Scoring Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling". Film Music Reporter. 6 January 2022. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  17. ^ "John Powell Scoring Illumination Entertainment's 'Migration' | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  18. ^ "IMDb Full Music Credits". IMDb.
  19. ^ "John Powell Scoring Lynn Wang's & Jared Hess' Thelma the Unicorn". Film Music Reporter. 5 December 2023.
  20. ^ "IMDb Full Music Department Credits". IMDb.
  21. ^ Powell, John (30 November 2023). "Scoring my 25th animated film and my first Xmas movie at Abbey Road Studios this week 🎶 Coming next winter! ❄️ #JohnPowell #soundtrack…". Instagram. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  22. ^ "John Powell Scoring Locksmith Animation's 'That Christmas'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  23. ^ "IMDb Full Music Department Credits". IMDb.
  24. ^ "John Powell to Score Dean DeBlois' 'How to Train Your Dragon' Live-Action Film Adaptation". Film Music Reporter. 15 February 2023. Retrieved 16 February 2023.
  25. ^ "Hubris: Choral Works by John Powell (192kHz / 24-bit)". John Powell. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Film Music Reporter".
  27. ^ "How To Train Your Dragon: The Deluxe Edition (CD)". Varèse Sarabande. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  28. ^ a b "Paycheck: The Deluxe Edition (Music From The Motion Picture) (2-CD)". Varèse Sarabande. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  29. ^ "Powell's announcement of the Deluxe Edition of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World".

External links[edit]