Mark L. Lester

Last updated
Mark L. Lester
Born (1946-11-26) November 26, 1946 (age 76)
Occupation(s) Film director, film producer, screenwriter
Notable work

Mark L. Lester (born November 26, 1946) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. [1] He is known as a prolific director of cult films, including the disco musical Roller Boogie (1979), the vigilante thriller film Class of 1984 (1982), the Stephen King adaptation Firestarter (1984), the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film Commando (1985), the action-comedy Armed and Dangerous (1986), starring John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Meg Ryan and the buddy movie Showdown in Little Tokyo , starring Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee.



After his debut in 1970 with the documentary film Twilight of the Mayas, Lester quickly became a prolific B-movie director/producer/writer, initially making his mark with a trio of road movies designed for the drive-in market: Steel Arena (1973), Truck Stop Women (1974), and Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976). In 1977, he directed the high-concept thriller Stunts, an early outing for New Line Cinema, starring Robert Forster, Joanna Cassidy, and Richard Lynch, with a score composed by Michael Kamen. Two years later, he capitalized on the disco trend with Roller Boogie , starring Linda Blair. The film had a significantly higher budget than his previous films and was the first to be distributed by a major studio, to modest success. While it received negative reviews upon its initial release, it has since gained cult status as a proverbial time capsule of the bygone Disco Era. He then made the exploitation action crime-thriller Class of 1984 , a film revolving around violence in an inner-city school. The Canadian-made production, which featured an early appearance by Michael J. Fox, was controversial at the time of release, but has since gained cult status.

Lester entered the mainstream in 1984 with the Stephen King adaptation Firestarter , and had his biggest hit the following year with Commando , a big-budget, Joel Silver-produced, Arnold Schwarzenegger action film that grossed over $57 million worldwide. In 1986, he directed and produced his first comedy, Armed and Dangerous , starring John Candy, Eugene Levy and Meg Ryan. In 1986, he formed Original Pictures, replacing his original production company Mark L. Lester Pictures, he had earlier established in the late 1970s, and had five films planned, source from the work of public domain with a $66 million budget. [2] In 1987, he, by way of Mark Lester Films, had signed with upstart film production company Davis Entertainment for production of $5–10 million action films, which Davis produced, Lester directed and independently funded by two independent studios, and 70% of each pictures could be obtained for presale use. [3] In 1990, he directed Class of 1999 , a semi-sequel to Class of 1984 , starring Malcolm McDowell, Pam Grier, and Stacy Keach. In 1991, he directed the cult classic Showdown in Little Tokyo , starring Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee.

Lester also founded American World Pictures, an independent production and distribution company. Other films include the thrillers Hitman's Run (1999) and Blowback (2000), and the TV movie Pterodactyl (2005), produced for the Sci Fi Channel. In 2012, he formed a new distribution company called Titan Global Entertainment.

In January 2013, almost 10 years after directing his last picture, Lester helmed the film Poseidon Rex on location in Belize. The production was disrupted briefly when lead actor Corin Nemec was severely injured during a boating accident while the Belizean Coast Guard was transporting the cast to set; [4] Nemec was later replaced by Charmed co-star Brian Krause. [5]

Personal life

Lester married Dana Dubovsky, with whom he had two children: Jason and Justin. The couple divorced in 2010. Lester also has a daughter from a prior relationship, Janessa (James), who is a musician and singer-songwriter.


Feature films

1971Twilight of the MayasYesYesNo
1973 Steel Arena YesYesYes
1974 Truck Stop Women YesYesYes
1975 White House Madness YesYesNo
1976 Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw YesYesNo
1977 Stunts YesNoNo
1979 Roller Boogie YesNoNo
1982 Class of 1984 YesExecutiveYes
1984 Firestarter YesNoNo
1985 Commando YesNoNo
1986 Armed and Dangerous YesNoNo
1990 Class of 1999 YesYesStory
1991 Showdown in Little Tokyo YesYesNo
1993 Extreme Justice YesNoNo
1995 Night of the Running Man YesYesNo
1998 Double Take YesYesNo
Misbegotten YesYesNo
1999 Hitman's Run YesYesNo
2000 Blowback YesYesNo
2003 Lady Jayne: Killer YesYesNo
Stealing Candy YesYesStory
White Rush YesYesNo
2013 Poseidon Rex YesYesNo
2014Dragons of CamelotYesYesNo

Executive producer only

  • The Funhouse (1981)
  • Instinct to Kill (2001)
  • Bad Karma (2002)
  • The Wisher (2002)
  • Day of Wrath (2006)
  • Jurassic Attack (2013)
  • Toxin (2015)
  • The Gardener (2020)

Producer only

  • Tricia's Wedding (1971) (Short film)
  • Devil's Prey (2001)
  • Beauty and the Beast (2009)
  • Sand Sharks (2012)
  • Social Animals (2018)
  • High Resolution (2018)
  • Sleeping With My Student (2019)

Direct-to-video films

1996 Public Enemies YesYes
1997 The Ex YesYes
1999The BaseYesYes

TV movies

1979 Gold of the Amazon Women YesNo
The Base 2: Guilty as ChargedYesYes
2005 Pterodactyl YesYes
2007 Wraiths of Roanoke NoYes
2011 Sinbad and the Minotaur NoYes

Executive producer

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  1. Bruce Eder (2016). "Mark L. Lester biography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . Archived from the original on 2016-03-07.
  2. Tusher, Will (1986-08-06). "Lester Forms Original Pictures; Raids Public Domain For Sources". Variety . p. 6.
  3. "Davis, Lester Pair For Action Films". Variety . 1987-02-18. p. 31.
  4. "Parker Lewis' Star Boat Crash". TMZ. January 24, 2013.
  5. "Trailer for Firestarter and Commando Director Mark L. Lester's Sea Monster Flick Poseidon Rex". Dread Central. May 20, 2013.