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Mighty Joe Young (1998)

A legendary fifteen-foot tall mountain gorilla named Joe is taken to an animal sanctuary in California by a zoologist and a young woman whom he grew up with. A poacher from the past returns to seek vengeance on him.



(story), (earlier screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Baker
Dr. Ruth Young
Young Jill Young
Cory Buck ...
Liz Georges ...
Jason's Mother


The baby gorilla left in her care grows up to become a hugely tall and broad specimen by the name of Joe, living in the mountains as a mostly unseen legend among people who live there. Along comes an eco-minded emissary from a California sanctuary, who talks the jungle girl into providing safe haven for Joe at the L.A. facility. The transition is not without discomfort, but everything is aggravated via a conspiracy of poachers to get Joe into their own greedy hands! Written by Anthony Pereyra <hypersonic91@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Survival is an instinct.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some menacing action violence and mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

25 December 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Store Joe Young  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$90,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,602,042, 27 December 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Since Gorillas in the Mist (1988), (Rick Baker) stated that he would not do any more projects that involved creating animatronic apes. Baker had to break that statement when he did Baby's Day Out (1994), in which a scene features a gorilla. After that film, he once again stated that he would not do any more ape projects, but when he got called to work on this film, he changed his mind. It was because of Baker's love for King Kong, and the original film, that changed his mind. This would be his last film that Baker created an animatronic gorilla suit. See more »


Part of the film is set in California. In Los Angeles and at the carnival near the beach, there are police cars with their colored lights on. All the police cars are missing a steady red light in the front. By the California vehicle code, all emergency and law enforcement vehicles are required to have a steady red light facing forward. See more »


Greg O'Hara: [Joe is holding him in the air by his leg] You think you could you get him to put me down?
Jill Young: Joe, drop him.
[Joe drops him roughly and Greg passes out]
See more »


Referenced in Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth (2000) See more »


Written by James Horner and Will Jennings
Choir Direction/Arrangement by Lebo M.
See more »

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User Reviews

A Very Moving and Powerful Film By Disney
5 February 2015 | by See all my reviews

I have never saw the original, but I might need to give that a look since I watched this one when I was young back then. "Mighty Joe Young" tells the story about a woman name Jill Young who is looking after Joe and protecting him by poachers, since they were once young as they both lost their mothers. Now as the two are all grown up, Gregg O'Hara arrives to Africa and convinces Jill to bring Joe to Los Angeles, California so he could be away from the poachers so that no one will hunt him down. I don't think this movie deserves such a low rating, and I don't think it deserves to be ignored either. I know everyone remembers the original, but I think they need to give this movie a chance and have the respect that it really deserves. Heck, even Disney needs to give this a proper DVD and Blu Ray release with actual special features like a documentary with interviews for the cast and crew (Bill Paxton, Charlize Theron, Ron Underwood, Rick Baker, James Horner, etc.) as they take a look back on how the movie went as there were problems, working on the special effects, when it first came out to mixed reviews, and maybe why the movie will always be a great movie as it has fans that remembers it. Like me. Also, a commentary track for the cast and crew along with deleted scenes, trailers and TV spots, etc. To me, I think it is a wonderful movie for kids and adults to enjoy it. Of course, this is Disney's own "King Kong" but that doesn't make it a bad thing. I do love the original 1933 and the 2005 remake of "King Kong," while the 1976 remake with Jeff Bridges not so much. I thought the special effects in this movie are impressive for its combination of practical and CGI. I may have notice one bad effect, but that is just a minor nitpick. The design of Joe is very well crafted by Rick Baker. Ron Underwood does a fantastic job on directing the movie as what he did with his other great movie "Tremors." The story itself is beautifully well told, and I was deeply moved by it. The cast in this movie all did great, but I give most props to Charlize Theron and Bill Paxton as they both a great chemistry together. I do love James Horner's music, and I do admit that there are some parts of it where it make me think of another music that Horner did which is "Titanic." The set pieces in LA are very well done as well as the Ferris wheel part. The movie does have its sad moments like both Joe and Jill loosing their mothers, and most of all the ending; the ending really did make me cry as Joe risks his life to save a boy as the Ferris wheel was coming down. Of course, Joe doesn't die because everyone love Joe and deserves to live as he is the hero in this movie. So that is what I thought of this movie, and why it deserves a chance and give it the respect it deserves. I do hope that the movie doesn't make its official debut on Blu Ray, and releasing it on DVD again in the UK or anywhere else because it deserves to be release in the United States and around the globe. What I mean is that if it was release only in the UK, then it would be unfair because everyone may want a copy of this movie in the US. I understand that some people may have a region free DVD/Blu Ray player so they can order it from the UK or anywhere else, but I rather much prefer to be release in the US and around the globe. I don't know if a petition can be done to change Disney's mind so they can release it again on DVD and have an official release on Blu Ray, but if it can, then it is possible. I hope they don't use DNR like what Fox did to "Predator," which is one of the worst transfers that I have ever seen in my entire life. The movie should be remastered in 4K or something like that as long as they remain true on how the movie was filmed. Also, we should show Disney on why it needs to be release again on DVD and have an official Blu Ray release as we show them that we are fans of this movie. This isn't about the money or anything like that. It is how much we appreciate this movie, and why we will always be a fan of it. All other movies must have that. Not just the money so that studios can be so greedy about. With that said, "Mighty Joe Young" is a very moving and powerful film by Disney, and I give this a 10 out of 10.

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