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John Powell (born September 18, 1963) is an English composer, best known for his scores to motion pictures. He has been based in Los Angeles since 1997 and has composed the scores to over fifty feature films. He is particularly known for his scores for animated films, including Antz, Chicken Run, Shrek (all three co-composed with Harry Gregson-Williams), Robots, Happy Feet (and its sequel), three Ice Age sequels, Rio, How to Train Your Dragon, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, and its 2014 sequel.

He has also scored many live-action films, of which his collaborations with directors Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass are perhaps the best known. These include the first three Bourne films, United 93, and Green Zone.

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 and Zimmer himself.

Early life and education

Powell was born in London, United Kingdom. He originally trained as a violinist as a child, before studying at London's Trinity College of Music. He later ventured into jazz and rock music, playing in a soul band the Faboulistics. On leaving 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.

Since the age of 6 Powell has been an atheist.

Career

In 1995, Powell co-founded the London-based commercial music house Independently Thinking Music, which produced scores for more than 100 British and French commercials and independent films.

Powell's first film score was for the 1990 film Stay Lucky. He moved to Los Angeles in 1997, and scored his first major film, Face/Off. This was followed by Antz in 1998, the first film produced by DreamWorks Animation which he co-scored with fellow British composer Harry Gregson-Williams. Two years later the two collaborated again to compose the score to Chicken Run, and again the following year on Shrek, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. All subsequent Shrek films however, have been scored solely by Gregson-Williams. During 2001 he also scored EvolutionI Am SamJust 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 other two films in the series, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, which were both directed by British director Paul Greengrass.

Following the Bourne films, Powell collaborated with Liman again to score the 2005 film Mr. & Mrs. Smith. That year, he also scored Robots, going on to score all but one of subsequent films by Blue Sky Studios.

In 2006, he scored Greengrass' United 93. He also composed music for 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 following year he scored The Bourne Ultimatum. In 2008 he collaborated with composer Hans Zimmer to score Kung Fu Panda, and also wrote music that year for JumperHancock, 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. This was his sixth score for a DreamWorks Animation film, although the first where he composed the whole score himself. It also became his first work to be nominated for theAcademy Award for Best Original Score. That year, he has also scored Greengrass's Green Zone, and Knight and Day.

In 2013, he took a sabbatical year from film scoring and in April 2014, following the completion of his scores to sequels Rio 2 and How to Train Your Dragon 2, he announced his decision to take another break to compose concert music, including a 45-minute oratorio to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of World War I. The piece, named "Moltke" after the Prussian aide-de-camp Helmut von Moltke, is expected to premiere in Spring 2016 in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra and a libretto by Michael Petry.

Discography

Television

Year Title Notes
1989–1993 Stay Lucky
1996–1997 High Incident

Film

1990s

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes 1997 Face/Off John Woo Paramount Pictures(North America)

Touchstone Pictures(International)

N/A
1998 With Friends Like These... Philip Frank Messina Miramax Films N/A
Antz Eric Darnell

Tim Johnson

Pacific Data Images

DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Pictures

with Harry Gregson-Williams
1999 Endurance Leslie Woodhead

Bud Greenspan

Walt Disney Pictures N/A
Forces of Nature Bronwen Hughes DreamWorks Pictures N/A
Chill Factor Hugh Johnson Morgan Creek Productions

Warner Bros. Pictures

with Hans Zimmer

2000s

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes 2000 The Road to El Dorado Don Paul

Bibo Bergeron

DreamWorks Pictures

DreamWorks Animation

with Hans Zimmer
Chicken Run Peter Lord

Nick Park

DreamWorks Pictures

DreamWorks Animation

with Harry Gregson-Williams
2001 Just Visiting Jean-Marie Poiré Hollywood Pictures N/A
Shrek Andrew Adamson

Vicky Jenson

DreamWorks Pictures

DreamWorks Animation

Songs, with Harry Gregson-Williams
Evolution Ivan Reitman DreamWorks Pictures N/A
Rat Race Jerry Zucker Paramount Pictures N/A
I Am Sam Jessie Nelson New Line Cinema N/A
2002 D-Tox Jim Gillespie Universal Pictures N/A
The Bourne Identity Doug Liman Universal Pictures N/A
Drumline Charles Stone III 20th Century Fox N/A
The Adventures of Pluto Nash Ron Underwood Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
Two Weeks Notice Marc Lawrence Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2003 Stealing Sinatra Ron Underwood Showtime Networks Television film
Agent Cody Banks Harald Zwart Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
The Italian Job F. Gary Gray Paramount Pictures N/A
Gigli Martin Brest Columbia Pictures N/A
Paycheck John Woo Paramount Pictures N/A
2004 The Bourne Supremacy Paul Greengrass Universal Pictures N/A
Mr. 3000 Charles Stone III Touchstone Pictures N/A
Alfie Charles Shyer Paramount Pictures N/A
2005 Be Cool F. Gary Gray Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
Robots Chris Wedge 20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A
Mr. & Mrs. Smith Doug Liman 20th Century Fox N/A
2006 Ice Age: The Meltdown Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A
United 93 Paul Greengrass Universal Pictures N/A
X-Men: The Last Stand Brett Ratner 20th Century Fox N/A
Happy Feet George Miller Warner Bros. Pictures

Village Roadshow Pictures
Animal Logic
Kennedy Miller

with Gia Farrell
2007 The Bourne Ultimatum Paul Greengrass Universal Pictures N/A
PS, I Love You Richard LaGravenese Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2008 Jumper Doug Liman 20th Century Fox N/A
Horton Hears a Who! Jimmy Hayward

Steve Martino

20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A
Stop-Loss Kimberly Peirce Paramount Pictures

MTV Films

N/A
Kung Fu Panda John Stevenson

Mark Osborne

Paramount Pictures

DreamWorks Animation

with Hans Zimmer
Hancock Peter Berg Columbia Pictures N/A
Bolt Chris Williams

Byron Howard

Walt Disney Pictures

Walt Disney Animation Studios

N/A
2009 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A

2010s

Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
2010 Green Zone Paul Greengrass Universal Pictures N/A
How to Train Your Dragon Chris Sanders

Dean DeBlois

Paramount Pictures

DreamWorks Animation

nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Score
Fair Game Doug Liman Summit Entertainment N/A
Knight and Day James Mangold 20th Century Fox N/A
2011 Mars Needs Moms Simon Wells Walt Disney Pictures

ImageMovers Digital

N/A
Rio Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A
Kung Fu Panda 2 Jennifer Yuh Nelson Paramount Pictures

DreamWorks Animation

with Hans Zimmer
Happy Feet Two George Miller Warner Bros. Pictures

Village Roadshow Pictures
Kennedy Miller Mitchell
Dr. D Studios

N/A
2012 Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Chris Renaud Universal Pictures

Illumination Entertainment

N/A
Ice Age: Continental Drift Steve Martino

Mike Thurmeier

20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A
2014 Rio 2 Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A
How to Train Your Dragon 2 Dean DeBlois 20th Century Fox

DreamWorks Animation

N/A
2015 Pan Joe Wright Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2016 Ice Age: Collision Course Mike Thurmeier

Galen Tan Chu

20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A
2017 Ferdinand Carlos Saldanha 20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios

N/A
2019 How to Train Your Dragon 3 Dean DeBlois 20th Century Fox

DreamWorks Animation

N/A

Awards and nominations

Awards

  • 1998 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - Face/Off
  • 1999 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - Antz (with Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • 2001 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - Chicken Run (with Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • 2001 Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music Score an Animated Feature Production - Shrek (with Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • 2002 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - Shrek (with Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • 2003 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - The Bourne Identity
  • 2004 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - The Italian Job
  • 2005 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - The Bourne Supremacy
  • 2006 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - Mr. & Mrs. Smith
  • 2006 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films - Robots
  • 2009 Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production - Kung Fu Panda (with Hans Zimmer)
  • 2009 Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Television Production or Short Form - Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five (with Henry Jackman and Hans Zimmer)
  • 2011 Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production - How To Train Your Dragon
  • 2011 IFMCA Award for Best Original Score for an Animated Feature - How To Train Your Dragon
  • 2011 IFMCA Award for Film Score of the Year - How To Train Your Dragon
  • 2014 HMMA Award for Best Original Score - Animated Film - How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • 2015 Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production - How To Train Your Dragon 2
  • 2015 IFMCA Award for Best Original Score for an Animated Feature - How To Train Your Dragon 2
  • 2015 IFMCA Award for Film Music Composition of the Year - for "Flying With Mother" from How to Train Your Dragon 2

Nominations

  • 1998 Saturn Award for Best Music - Face/Off
  • 1999 Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production - Antz (with Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • 2000 Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production - The Road to El Dorado (with Hans Zimmer, Elton John and Tim Rice)
  • 2001 Saturn Award for Best Music - The Road to El Dorado (with Hans Zimmer)
  • 2001 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Original Score - Chicken Run (with Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • 2002 BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music - Shrek (with Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • 2002 Saturn Award for Best Music - Shrek (with Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • 2005 Golden Satellite Award for Best Original Score - Alfie (with David A. Stewart and Mick Jagger)
  • 2007 Saturn Award for Best Music - X-Men: The Last Stand
  • 2007 Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production - Ice Age: The Meltdown
  • 2007 BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music - Happy Feet
  • 2008 Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media - Happy Feet
  • 2008 Satellite Award for Best Original Score - Horton Hears a Who!
  • 2008 Saturn Award for Best Music - The Bourne Ultimatum
  • 2009 Saturn Award for Best Music - Jumper
  • 2009 Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production - Horton Hears a Who!
  • 2010 Annie Award for Music in a Feature Production - Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
  • 2011 Saturn Award for Best Music - How To Train Your Dragon
  • 2011 BAFTA Award for Best Original Music - How To Train Your Dragon
  • 2011 Academy Award for Best Original Score - How To Train Your Dragon

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