John Michael Crichton (/ˈkraɪtən/; October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008) was an American author, screenwriter, film director and producer best known for his work in the science fiction, thriller, and medical fiction genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and over a dozen have been adapted into films.
His literary works are usually within the action genre and heavily feature technology. His novels epitomize the techno-thriller genre of literature, often exploring technology and failures of human interaction with it, especially resulting in catastrophes with biotechnology. Many of his future history novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and scientific background. He wrote, among other works, The Andromeda Strain (1969); Sphere (1987); Jurassic Park (1990); Rising Sun (1992); Disclosure (1994); The Lost World (1995); Airframe (1996); Timeline (1999); Prey (2002); State of Fear (2004); and Next (2006). Films he wrote and directed included Westworld (1973), Coma (1978), The Great Train Robbery (1979), Looker (1981), and Runaway (1984).
As a film director and screenwriter
The first film based on one of his works was The Andromeda Strain (1971), based on his first professionally published novel of the same name, released in 1969. Crichton then wrote three episodes for the television series Insight in the early 1970s. He made his directing debut with Pursuit (1972), a TV movie based on his novel Binary.
Crichton wrote and directed the 1973 science fiction western-thriller film Westworld, which was his feature film directorial debut. It was the first feature film using 2D computer-generated imagery (CGI).
He wrote and directed the suspense film Coma, adapted from a Robin Cook novel. There are other similarities in terms of genre and the fact that both Cook and Crichton had medical degrees, were of similar age, and wrote about similar subjects.
Other films written and directed by Crichton were The Great Train Robbery (1979), Looker (1981), Runaway (1984) and Physical Evidence (1989). The middle two films were science fiction, set in the very near future at the time, and included particularly flashy styles of filmmaking, for their time.
He wrote the screenplay for the films Extreme Close-Up (1973), Jurassic Park (1993), Rising Sun (1993), and Twister (1996), the latter co-written with Anne-Marie Martin, his wife at the time. While Jurassic Park and The Lost World were both based on Crichton's novels, Jurassic Park III was not (though scenes from the Jurassic Park novel were incorporated into the third film, such as the aviary).
Crichton was also the creator and executive producer of the television drama ER. He had written what became the pilot script "24 Hours" in 1974. Twenty years later Steven Spielberg helped develop the show, serving as a producer on season one and offering advice (he insisted on Julianna Margulies becoming a regular, for example). It was also through Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment that John Wells was contacted to be the show's executive producer.