August 15, 1951
New York City, New York, United States
Executive, Producer, Documentarian, Assistant director, Journalist
A former head of production at Universal Pictures who went on to become a prolific producer in partnership with Jim Jacks and on his own, Sean Daniel supervised and/or green-lighted such films as "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978), "Missing" (1982), "Gorillas in the Mist" (1988), "Field of Dreams" and "Do the Right Thing" (both 1989) while at Universal. As a producer, he has given the world Edward James Olmos' "American Me" (1992), Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused" (1993), and Nora Ephron's hit "Michael" (1996). A native New Yorker, Daniel received his undergraduate degree from CalArts and returned to NYC where he briefly worked at the Village Voice before segueing to a career in films. He began as the associate producer of the documentary "Mustang - The House that Joe Built" (1975) and served as an assistant director on "Dynamite Woman" (1976) before joining Universal as an assistant in 1976. Within two years, he was promoted to a vice presidency and in 1985, assumed the post of president of production for Universal Pictures. He left Universal in 1990 and spent nine months as head of Geffen Films, but departed to hang out his own shingle as a producer. The first Sean Daniel Company production was "Pure Luck" (1991), a less-than-successful effort starring Martin Short. The following year, he and Jim Jacks formed Alphaville, a production company with ties to Universal. Their first effort "CB4" (1993), a satirical look at rap music starring Chris Rock, developed a cult following on home video after a somewhat weaker than expected box office performance. "Hard Target" (1993), a Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie, however, proved to be a box-office winner. Indicative of Daniel's eclectic tastes, he and Jacks also produced Richard Linklater's superb low-budget "Dazed & Confused" and the big-budget Western "Tombstone" (both 1993). In 1995, Daniel and Jacks returned to modest budgets with Kevin Smith's cult favorite "Mallrats." The duo had their biggest success to date with Ephron's "Michael," the story of an angel on earth starring John Travolta. Not only did it rack up huge grosses, but it also won critical raves. Three years later, the adventure blockbuster "The Mummy" (1999) set up a profitable franchise; the film's first sequel, "The Scorpion King" (2001) made a box office star out of former WWE wrester Dwayne Johnson. Other notable Alphaville productions included Sam Raimi's heist film "A Simple Plan" (1998), Joel and Ethan Coen's legal comedy "Intolerable Cruelty" (2003), and Louis C.K.'s "Pootie Tang" (2001), a notorious box office failure that grew to develop a devoted cult following. Daniel established his own independent production company, The Sean Daniel Company, with the release of "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" (2008). This was followed by Malcolm D. Lee's hit sequel "The Best Man Holiday" (2013) and a pair of television projects, the crime drama "Graceland" (USA 2013-15) and the futuristic mystery "The Expanse" (SyFy 2015- ). Daniel returned to the big screen as producer of Richard Linklater's follow-up to "Boyhood" (2014), the baseball comedy "That's What I'm Talking About" (2015).