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Kurt Johnstad is an American screenwriter. He has worked on several films including 300, for which he was nominated for a Saturn Award, along with Michael Gordon and Zack Snyder. He also wrote the screenplays for Act of Valor, 300: Rise of an Empire and Atomic Blonde, and was tapped to write one of two competing screenplays for Aquaman; Will Beall's script was eventually chosen for the film.

Kurt Johnstad


Life and careerEdit

Johnstad grew up working on a cattle farm in Wisconsin. Among his family were two sisters and his father, an Air Force fighter pilot, and mother, an English teacher.[1] Johnstad graduated high school at 16 and spent a year traveling.[1] He enrolled in the California Institute of the Arts in 1986 to study film and completed the program in three years.[1]

Johnstad began working on music videos and television movies for the next four years.[1] Among the people he had worked with was director Zack Snyder, who offered him a job as his first assistant director which lead the two to work with each other for the next ten years.[1]

Johnstad would later work on scripts and in the mid 1990s, a low-budget action film True Vengeance was released in the mid-1990s.[1] Snyder asked Johnstad to assist him with his film 300, a fictionalized graphic novel adaptation of Frank Miller's comic involving the Battle of Thermopylae.[1] The film got him nominated for a Saturn Award along with Snyder and Michael Gordon.[2]

In 2011, Johnstad was working with Snyder to co-write the film The Last Photograph and 300: The Battle of Artemisia for Warner Bros..[1] Johnstad also worked outside of collaborations with Snyder, and was hired by producers Basil Iwanyk and Jason Netter to adapt Max Allan Collins’ novel Black Hats.[1] His next screenplays that were produced was Act of Valor and 300: Rise of an Empire.[3]

In 2015, Variety described Johnstad as beginning "to make a name for himself as writer who delivers big action in his scripts, along with classic heroes audiences love to root for."[3] His screenplay based on The Coldest City by Antony Johnston was announced that year.[4] The film was titled Atomic Blonde and released on July 28, 2017.[5]

Films Johnstad has been assigned to write screenplays for include The Lost Legion for Warner Bros. and Dan Lin, and Aquaman where another script was concurrently in development, by Will Beall.[6] Beall's script was later used for the film.[7]


Title Year Credited as Ref(s)
Writer Producer
True Vengeance N/A Yes
300 2006 Yes [8]
Act of Valor 2012 Yes [9]
300: Rise of an Empire 2014 Yes [10]
Atomic Blonde 2017 Yes executive [5][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Longwell, Todd (December 2, 2011). "Johnstad: Epic heroes make big impact on the page". Variety. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  2. ^ "WB, Paramount dominate Saturns". Variety. February 20, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (March 9, 2015). "Matt Tolmach, Kurt Johnstad Sell Untitled Sci-Fi Pitch to Sony (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (May 9, 2015). "Focus Pre-Empts N.A. Rights To 'The Coldest City;' Charlize Theron To Star, 'John Wick's David Leitch & Chad Stahelski Directing: Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  5. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 7, 2016). "Charlize Theron Spy Thriller 'The Coldest City' Moves Up To July – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  6. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 12, 2014). "Warner Bros. Lands Two Writers for 'Aquaman' Movie". Variety. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  7. ^ Kit, Borys (July 22, 2016). "Aquaman' Movie Hooks 'Gangster Squad' Writer (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Vespe, Eric (December 11, 2006). "Quint's BNAT wrap-up, part 1! Zack Snyder's 300! Rocky Balboa! Black Snake Moan and Dreamgirls!!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  9. ^ Labreque, Jeff (December 17, 2011). "'Act of Valor' trailer". Entertainment Weekly.
  10. ^ Johns, Nikara. "'Unapologetic,' 'Strong' Female Leads Praised at '300: Rise of an Empire' Premiere". Variety.
  11. ^ Barker, Andrew (March 13, 2017). "SXSW Review: 'Atomic Blonde'". Variety. Retrieved July 28, 2017.

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