Jonathan Liebesman

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Jonathan Liebesman
Liebesman at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2010
Born (1976-09-15) 15 September 1976 (age 47)
Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
Years active2000-present

Jonathan Liebesman (born 15 September 1976) is a South African film director and screenwriter. He is known for directing the films Darkness Falls (2003), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), Battle: Los Angeles (2011), Wrath of the Titans (2012), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014).

Personal life[edit]

Liebesman was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He studied filmmaking at the AFDA, The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance and at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He is Jewish. His cousin is director Dean Israelite.[1]

At Tisch, he co-wrote and directed an 8-minute short film, Genesis and Catastrophe, adapted from a Roald Dahl short story. The film was screened at numerous festivals around the world, and in 2000 won an award in the category of 'best short' at the Austin Film Festival. This earned Liebesman the "Hollywood Young Filmmaker Award" at the Hollywood Film Festival in 2000.


In 2002, he directed his debut feature Darkness Falls at the age of 26. Although the film suffered from generally weak reviews, it opened at no. 1 at the US box office. The film grossed over $32.5 million at the US box office, and a further $15 million worldwide.[2] The film was nominated for Best Horror/Thriller at the Teen Choice Awards in 2003, while the film's star, Emma Caulfield, won Face of the Future from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films that year.

Liebesman's next project, Rings (2005) (which he co-wrote with Ehren Kruger), was a 17-minute short that chronologically follows the events of the full-length feature, The Ring, and serves as a prequel to The Ring Two (2005). It provided an insightful transition between the two films and garnered high praise from fans of both feature-length films.[citation needed]

The film's success brought him to the attention of Michael Bay and his production company, Platinum Dunes, who hired him to direct The Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel titled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.[3]

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning opened in US theaters on 6 October 2006, and proved another box office hit for Liebesman. The $16 million movie opened at No 2 at the US box office with $18.5 million. As of 31 December 2006, the film had grossed around $50 million worldwide, including over $39.5 million in the US.

In 2007, it was initially announced that Liebesman would be the director of the Friday the 13th reboot[4][5] but as of November 2007, Marcus Nispel, director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake of 2003, replaced Liebesman.[6]

In 2008, Liebesman completed directing his third full-length feature film, The Killing Room, a political thriller starring Chloë Sevigny, Nick Cannon, Timothy Hutton and Peter Stormare, about four people in a psychological study who discover they are subjects in a brutal and classified government program. The film debuted in the non-competition program at the Sundance Festival in January 2009.[7][8]

In November 2008, Columbia Pictures announced that Liebesman would direct the science fiction film Battle: Los Angeles. The $70 million film – based on the story written by Chris Bertolini – revolved around a marine platoon's encounter in a battle against an alien invasion on the streets of Los Angeles.[9] The film opened at no. 1 at the US box office on 11 March 2011, and earned over $80 million at the US box office, and over $200 million globally.[10]

In early 2009, it was announced that Liebesman was attached to direct a new Warner Bros. film titled Odysseus, an epic based on Homer's Odyssey.[11]

In June 2010, Liebesman was named as the director of the sequel to Clash of the Titans, titled Wrath of the Titans, starring Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, and Liam Neeson.[12] Principal photography began on 23 March 2011, with filming taking place in summer 2011 in studios outside London and on location in Surrey, South Wales and in the Canary Islands on the island of Tenerife. The film was released on 30 March 2012. Like its predecessor, the film was lambasted by critics and plans for a sequel, Revenge of the Titans never got off the ground.[citation needed]

In July 2011, it was announced that Warner Bros. and Liebesman would be collaborating on an upcoming biopic about Julius Caesar.[13]

In February 2012, Liebesman was brought in to direct the reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, beating Brett Ratner among others.[14] Filming began in March 2013 in Tupper Lake, New York. Production for the film wrapped on 3 August 2013, and the movie was released in August 2014.[15] The movie was a box office success, but received negative reviews from critics and the TMNT fan base alike.[citation needed] The film was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards in 2015 including Worst Director, while the film's star, Megan Fox, won Worst Supporting Actress.

In April 2019, Liebesman oversaw reshoots for Dolittle (2020) alongside writer Chris McKay and the film's director Stephen Gaghan; the reshoots moved the film's release from April 2019 to January 2020.[16]

In 2022 he directed the season 2 finale of the action series Halo.[17]


Short films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
2000 Genesis and Catastrophe Yes Yes Yes Also editor and post-production sound designer
2005 Rings Yes Yes No

Feature films

Year Title Notes
2003 Darkness Falls
2006 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
2009 The Killing Room
2011 Battle: Los Angeles
2012 Wrath of the Titans
2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nominated - Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2020 Dolittle Director of reshoots (uncredited) and executive producer


Year Title Director Executive
2016 The Shannara Chronicles Yes Yes Episode "Chosen" (Part 1 & 2)
2022 Halo Yes No 4 Episodes


  1. ^ Thompson, Bill Desowitz, Anne (26 July 2014). "Comic-Con 2014: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' 3D Reboot vs. Low-Tech 'Project Almanac' - IndieWire". Retrieved 17 November 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Darkness Falls (2003) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  3. ^ Liebesman, Jonathan (6 October 2006), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (Horror, Thriller), New Line Cinema, Platinum Dunes, Next Entertainment, retrieved 10 June 2022
  4. ^ Fangoria article "Fangoria - America's Horror Magazine". Archived from the original on 16 October 2006. Retrieved 26 September 2006.
  5. ^ "Helmer makes plans for 'Friday' - Entertainment News, New Line Cinema, Media - Variety". Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2006.
  6. ^ Borys Kit (14 November 2007). "Nispel scores a date with next 'Friday'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 22 November 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Larry Carroll. "Lucio Fulci's CAT IN THE BRAIN Coming To DVD 31 March!". Archived from the original on 27 January 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  9. ^ "San Diego Comic-Con 2010: Early Art – Battle: Los Angeles". 19 October 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Battle: Los Angeles". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Jonathan Liebesman to Direct Odysseus". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Hollywood girds for another Clash". Los Angeles Times. 10 June 2010.
  13. ^ White, James. "Jonathan Liebesman Hails Caesar". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  14. ^ Kroll, Justin (14 February 2012). "'Wrath of the Titans' Director Takes on 'Ninja Turtles'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Borys Kit (15 April 2019). "'Ninja Turtles' Director Jonathan Liebesman Tackling 'Doctor Dolittle' Reshoots (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  17. ^ Kriedemann, Kevin. "South African filmmaker Jonathan Liebesman directs Halo S2 finale". Channel. Retrieved 19 June 2022.

External links[edit]