The Craftsman House Featured in the Movie “Zathura”

Zathura Movie Craftsman

The 2005 family movie Zathura, about an old game that comes to life when you play it, features this wonderful old Greene and Greene Craftsman in Pasadena. During the course of the film, the house gets sent into outer space, invaded by robots and Zorgons, and turned into Swiss cheese by a meteor shower. It’s painful, at times, to watch.

No real houses were harmed in the filming of this movie, however. Director Jon Favreau explains that they built a miniature version of the house and destroyed it instead.

creating Zathura model

The amount of work that was involved in replicating the real house is mind boggling.

model house for Zathura

Here’s how the miniature looked in the movie, when floating through space:

Zathura movie Craftsman-floating in space

The exterior of the model house matched the real one,but the interiors were invented. According to Favreau:

“We really wanted the house to feel like something, and feel old, and like it had some character. All the details were chosen from different famous houses, even the fireplace and the fixtures. But it wasn’t furnished well, because we wanted it to look like the dad just moved in. Part of the fun was making a house that, as it came apart, was somewhat tragic–it breaks your heart.”

(Mission accomplished.)

Zathura movie Craftsman house front door

Tim Robbins played the dad. He was only in a few scenes at the beginning and end of the movie, so he only had to be there for 2 weeks out of the 6-month shoot.

dad's study 2

Zathura Craftsman fireplace

Across the entry hall from his office is the living room, with another fabulous fireplace in it:

Zathura movie Craftsman fireplace

He apologizes to his sons because he knows the house doesn’t feel like “home” yet, and hopes that they’ll come to love it in time:

living room shelves 1

How can they not love it? Look at that woodwork! And those built-ins!

living room shelves 2

After the meteor shower pelts the house, the boys realize they are now floating somewhere out in space:

Zathura movie house torn apart meteor shower

front staircase-Zathura

boys room 1

As the camera quickly pans across the room we get a quick look at some of the built-ins and the boys’ bathroom behind Robbins:

Zathura movie boy's blue bedroom

boys room 3

Kristen Stewart (best known as Bella from Twilight) plays Walter and Danny’s older sister Lisa, who sleeps through most of the excitement before being cryogenically frozen by the game. Here she is, telling the boys that unless the house is on fire, they should leave her alone:

Kristin Stewart-Lisa in Zathura

One of my favorite lines from this scene is when her brothers say, “But we saw Saturn!” (And she slams the bathroom door.)


Josh Hutcherson in Zathura movie

Love that stained-glass window tucked into the stairwell:

Tim Robbins in Zathura movie

It was important to the filmmakers to create a house that looked real, and not like a set. Jon Favreau says, “I came up through independent film, where you’re usually shooting on location. I hate when it looks like you shot on a set instead of on location.”

Zathura movie house Craftsman staircase

We don’t get to see much of the kitchen before it gets blasted apart, but it looks like it was a great one. Love the yellow cabinets and the old subway tile:

Zathura movie Craftsman kitchen

Josh Hutcherson played the older brother in the movie.

kitchen 3

kitchen 5

Dax Shepherd was a relative newcomer when he played the astronaut who comes by to help them:

Zathura movie Craftsman kitchen 2

All the trouble starts when 6-year old Danny finds this old game in the dark, dusty bowels of the basement and brings it upstairs. When they play it, the game comes to life all around them:

Zathura-tin wind-up game

Frank Oz was the voice of this destructive, red-eyed robot:

robot destroying house

The movie was based on a children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, who also wrote Jumanji (another board-game-comes-to-life story) and The Polar Express, among others:

Zathura-Chris Van Allsburg

One of the illustrations from Zathura:

Zathura-book inside

They had to shoot in order because the sets were destroyed by the end of the movie. However, because the house is (thankfully) back to normal by the final scene, they filmed it first:

Zathura Craftsman-overhead view

If you love Craftsman houses as much as I do, then check out the posts I’ve done about Monster-in-Law and You, Me & Dupree, too!

Julia-simple teal signature

P.S. Visit Houses Onscreen to see more, including…

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  1. says

    Love the house! And I’m so glad you’re posting on Parenthood. I love the houses but I rarely catch the show when it’s on.
    .-= Amy Button´s last blog ..Okay =-.

  2. says

    Julia, I am so glad I was not the only one who gasped and sighed as the house was destroyed throughout the movie. My daughters laughed at me the whole time we were watching it. I especially loved the kitchen with its yellow cabinets. It is timeless!
    .-= Ricki Jill Treleaven´s last blog ..Dressing V Stuffing =-.

  3. Billy says

    Now I want to see it just for the lithoed tin game board.

    Most transportation designers spend some time at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design. (It was my double secret safety school.)

  4. Kim says

    What a beautiful house! There’s something about Craftman style houses that are really fascinating.

    I was was able to find the address of the actual house. The back is very different from the replicas. You can see it here:

    For some reason the new birdseye won’t let me copy the front. You will have to click “rotate left” once.

  5. Derek says

    YAY! You finially got to this on your movie list.! Nothing beats a Greene and Greene for Craftsman style.

  6. Janelle says

    I’m so glad to hear you’re working on a post about Parenthood. I love Julia and Joel’s modern home, as well as Zeek and Millie’s homey, well-loved place.

  7. Nita says

    You’re doing a Cary Grant movie next Monday. I just saw a movie with him and his future wife at the time, Betsy Drake, called Every Girl Should Be Married, I believe, and in it, she got to use a house for a month, and the house is tres cute! There is a built-in curved window seat and plump chairs by the fireplace. You must take a look if you can.

  8. E. George says

    Hi Julia love this movie just like you guys I did not like the destruction because the house is so beautiful and I want one just like it. The stained glass window …..gorgeous. Thanks for this post it was great. Can’t wait for Bringing Up Baby. Regards Esther from Sydney

  9. says

    This is cute! I should watch this movie with my little ones. When this came out my first child was still in my belly! :-) Time goes by too fast!

    The most interesting part was seeing them building the miniature house but I also liked the house inside. So much character.

    Julia, if you can go to my blog today.. there’s a little “pretend” game… just to start a week lightly. :-)

  10. melissa says

    My boys LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this movie. The oldest boy is from Northern Kentucky. So, we’re a little more partial to this movie. : ) So, looking forward to your Parenthood post. If wishes came true, I’d be living in an alternate universe in the Parenthood world. Won’t it be nice if built-ins were still the norm rather than an upgrade along with hardwood floors! Thank you for this post!

  11. says

    Awesome craftsman! I love your comment, “How can they not love it? Look at that woodwork! And those built-ins!” FOR REAL. I wish I could own a beautiful old house like that… unfortunately my area of town isn’t that old…
    .-= MissCaron´s last blog ..For The Beauty Of The Earth =-.

  12. says

    Love the house – what’s not to love – and must see it sometime as well as take a look-see at Zathura . How did I miss this as I love Jumanji. Maybe I’m still stuck in a meteor shower. ha! What a delightful post.
    .-= Penny´s last blog ..Misty- moisty weather =-.

  13. says

    Gorgeous house. Leave it to kids to not appreciate fine Craftsman details.
    Am I the only one who thinks the back of the model house looks very similar to the back of the house in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen?
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..I CAN do better! =-.

  14. Claire says

    I love the Craftsman style homes! Did you cover the house from Shia LaBeouf’s movie “Disturbia?” I can’t remember. I love that house.

    And I know it’s not from a movie, but one of my favorite TV houses is the Trager’s home from Kyle XY. I would move into that house in a heartbeat!

  15. Mercedes says

    thanks Julia, great house, and an incredible job in the miniature one. Waiting for Parenhood, thanks for sharing
    I love the Thirtysomething house too!!!

  16. says

    I think I need a set designer to build my next home. Of course the interior would be on a studio lot somewhere, but that’s ok, it cut’s down on company dropping by unexpectedly!
    Can’t wait to see the Bring Up Baby House…I can’t give you anything but love…baby!
    .-= Pat´s last blog ..Coffee Table Conundrum =-.

  17. says

    “We don’t get to see much of the kitchen before it gets blasted apart, but it looks like it was a great one”

    I laughed so hard when I read this :)

    I’ve never seen this movie, but you sure made me curious. That replica is epic! And I love the wood as well.

  18. says

    This house is great, I’m really starting to like Craftsman homes. This house reminds me of the home featured in You, Me & Dupree. I love the fireplaces and all the wood, so much character.
    .-= Bre´s last blog ..The Importance of Being Idle =-.

  19. says

    I love this movie-so many classic moments and lines and you really can’t go wrong with Tim Robbins and Dax Shepherd :) I was so relieved at the end of the movie when the house gets put back together-I don’t handle houses being destroyed very well, even in movies apparently!
    .-= rosie at 3rosebuds´s last blog ..Too early for Christmas decorating =-.

  20. Lisa says

    Julia, I just sat down and watched this with the kiddos last Saturday and lets just say it wasn’t the plot that kept my attention. I was so giddy everytime they went into a new room so I could continue my little virtual tour. Your timing couldn’t more perfect! I love when the universe is so in line!! Thanks for sharing!!

  21. CassC says

    Craftsman style houses are my absolute favorite. They are just so inviting! This has actually been my favorite movie house since I first saw the movie. I’m actually a little sad that the interior is not the actual interior to the house. Still a gorgeous house though!

  22. Andrew K. says

    DOES ANYONE KNOW what scale is used between the real house and the model?