Chronicle (film)

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For the film by Sebastián Cordero known as "Chronicles", see Crónicas.
Chronicle Film Poster.jpg
Teaser poster
Directed by Josh Trank
Produced by
Screenplay by Max Landis
Story by Max Landis
Josh Trank
Cinematography Matthew Jensen
Edited by Elliot Greenberg
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
Running time
83 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million[2]
Box office $126.6 million[3]

Chronicle is a 2012 American science fiction thriller film directed by Josh Trank in his directorial debut, and written by Max Landis based on a story by both. It follows three Seattle high school seniors, bullied Andrew (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and more popular Steve (Michael B. Jordan), who form a bond after gaining telekinetic abilities from an unknown object. They first use their abilities for mischief and personal gain until Andrew turns to darker purposes.

The film is visually presented as found footage filmed from the perspective of various video recording devices. It primarily uses Andrew's hand-held camcorder to document the events of his life. Released in the United Kingdom and Ireland on February 1, 2012, and in the United States on February 3, 2012, it received a positive critical response and grossed $126 million worldwide.


Seattle teenager Andrew Detmer starts videotaping his life; his mother Karen is dying of cancer and his alcoholic father Richard is verbally and physically abusive. At school, Andrew is frequently bullied.

Andrew's cousin Matt invites him to a party to help him meet people, but Andrew's filming negatively affects an attendee and he leaves despondent. He is persuaded by popular student Steve to record something strange that he and Matt have found in the woods. The trio enters a hole in the ground, where they hear a loud strange noise and discover a large glowing blue crystalline object which turns red, and causes them painful nosebleeds. Weeks later, Andrew, Matt, and Steve record themselves as they display telekinetic abilities, but bleeding from their noses when they overexert themselves. They develop a close friendship and begin using their abilities to play pranks, but when Andrew accidentally pushes a rude motorist off the road and into a river, Matt insists that they restrict the use of their powers, particularly against living things.

When they discover flight abilities, they agree to fly around the world together after graduation. Andrew wants to visit Tibet because of its peaceful nature. Steve encourages him to enter the school talent show to gain popularity. Andrew amazes his fellow students by disguising his powers as an impressive magic act. After the show, Andrew, Matt and Steve celebrate at a house party. After drinking with his classmate Monica, she and Andrew go upstairs to have sex, but he vomits on her, humiliating himself.

Andrew becomes increasingly withdrawn and aggressive, culminating when his father Richard attacks him and Andrew uses his powers to overwhelm him. His outburst is so extreme that it inflicts psychically connected nosebleeds on Steve and Matt. While Matt ignores the nosebleed, Steve goes up to the middle of a storm and tries to console Andrew who grows increasingly frustrated, but Steve is suddenly struck by a lightning bolt, and killed. At Steve's funeral, Matt confronts Andrew about the suspicious circumstances of Steve's death. Andrew denies responsibility to Matt, but he privately begs for forgiveness at Steve's grave.

Andrew grows distant from Matt and again finds himself ostracized at school. After being bullied, he uses his powers to tear teeth out of a bully's mouth. Andrew begins to identify himself as an apex predator, rationalizing that he should not feel guilt for using his powers to hurt those weaker than himself. When his mother's condition deteriorates, Andrew uses his powers to steal money for her medicine. After mugging some local thugs, he robs a gas station where he inadvertently causes an explosion that puts him in the hospital, and under police investigation. At his bedside, his father informs the unconscious Andrew that his mother has died, and he angrily blames Andrew for her death. As his father is about to strike him, Andrew awakens and the wall of his hospital room explodes.

Elsewhere, Matt experiences a nose bleed and senses that Andrew is in trouble. He goes to the hospital, where Andrew is floating outside. After saving Richard when Andrew attempts to kill him, Matt confronts his cousin at the Space Needle and tries to reason with him, but Andrew grows hostile and irrational at any perceived attempt to control him. Andrew attacks Matt and the pair fight across the city, crashing through buildings and hurling vehicles. Injured and enraged, Andrew uses his powers to destroy the buildings around him, threatening hundreds of lives. Unable to get through to Andrew and left with no other choice, Matt telekinetically tears a spear from a nearby statue, and impales Andrew with it, killing him. The police surround Matt, but he flies away.

Later, Matt lands in Tibet with Andrew’s camera. Speaking to the camera while addressing Andrew, Matt vows to use his powers for good and to find out what happened to them in the hole. Matt positions the camera to view a Tibetan monastery in the distance before flying away, leaving the camera behind.



The film is written by Fear Itself writer Max Landis, from a story by him and Josh Trank who also directed it. For budgetary reasons, the film was shot primarily in Cape Town, South Africa with Film Afrika Worldwide, as well in Vancouver, Canada.[4][5] Trank cited the films Akira, Carrie and The Fury as influences on Chronicle.[6] Filming started in May 2011 and continued for eighteen weeks, ending in August 2011.[7] Cinematographer Matthew Jensen used the Arri Alexa video camera to shoot the movie and Angenieux Optimo and Cook s4 lenses.[4] Postproduction techniques were used to give it a "found footage" look.[4] A cable cam rig was used for a shot in which the character Andrew levitated his camera 120 feet into the air.[4] The Arri Alexa camera was mounted on a skateboard to simulate Andrew's camera sliding across a floor.[4] Stuntmen were suspended from crane wire rigs for flying scenes, with green screen special effects used for closeups of the actors.[4] Andrew's video camera in the movie was a Canon XL1 MiniDV and later he switched to a HD camera that resembles a Canon Vixia HF M30.[4] His "Seattle" bedroom was actually a set constructed on a film studio stage in Cape Town.[4] Because in South Africa, vehicles drive on the left side and have steering wheels on the right side, American style vehicles had to be shipped in for the production.[4] DVD dailies were provided to the director and cinematographer by the Cape Town firm HD Hub.[4]


Box office[edit]

Chronicle opened in 2,907 theaters in the United States and Canada on February 3, 2012.[8] Box office watchers expected the film to gross $15 million for its opening weekend, the Super Bowl weekend, while Fox projected to receive around 8 million.[9] However, by its first day the film had already earned an estimated $8.65 million[9] and finished the weekend as the top film with $22,000,000 surpassing The Woman in Black ($21,000,000) and The Grey ($9.5 million).[8] Next to an estimated production budget of $12 million, it was an unexpected financial success as the film became the fourth highest Super Bowl debut.[8] Chronicle also opened as a number one hit internationally, opening in 33 foreign markets such as Australia, China, and the United Kingdom where it earned the most with $3.5 million.[10]

Overall, the film grossed $64.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $58.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $123.1 million.[3]

Critical response[edit]

Chronicle has received mostly positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 85% based on reviews from 166 critics, with an average score of 7.1/10, with the site's consensus stating: "Chronicle transcends its found-footage gimmick with a smart script, fast-paced direction, and engaging performances from the young cast. " [11] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received a score of 69/100, based on 31 reviews, which indicates "Generally favorable reviews".[12]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review, saying "From [the] deceptively ordinary beginning, Josh Trank's Chronicle grows into an uncommonly entertaining movie that involves elements of a superhero origin story, a science-fiction fantasy and a drama about a disturbed teenager," giving the film 3.5 stars out of 4.[13] Empire critic Mark Dinning gave the film 4 stars out of 5, saying the film was "A stunning superhero/sci-fi that has appeared out of nowhere to demand your immediate attention."[14] Total Film gave the film a five-star review (denoting 'outstanding'): "Believable then bad-ass, it isn't wholly original but it does brim with emotion, imagination and modern implication."[15]

On the negative side, Andrew Schenker of Slant Magazine gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, saying the film, "offers up little more than a tired morality play about the dangers of power, rehashing stale insights about the narcissism of the documentary impulse."[16]

Home media[edit]

Chronicle was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on May 15, 2012. The film was released on DVD and a special "Lost Footage" edition for Blu-ray, which contains additional footage that was not shown in theaters.[citation needed]


The film was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film at 39th Saturn Awards, but lost to Marvel's The Avengers.

Year Recipient Award Result
2012 Chronicle Golden Trailer Award for Best Most Original Trailer Won
Golden Trailer Award for Best in Show Nominated
2013 Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film Nominated


Fox hired Max Landis to write a sequel.[17] Whether director Josh Trank would return was unclear.[18] The Hollywood Reporter gave a brief one-line mention in its March 23, 2012 issue that a sequel was in development.[19] However, it was later reported that Fox was not happy with the script.[20] On April 10, 2013, Landis told IGN that Fox did like the script and they're moving along with it; Landis also said that the sequel would be darker in tone.[21] On July 17, 2013, Landis revealed on his Twitter account that he and Trank are no longer working on the sequel and new writers have taken over to write the film.[22] Fox set Jack Stanley to write the film.[23]


  1. ^ "Chronicle". British Board of Film Classification. January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 83m 20s 
  2. ^ "'Chronicle': Like 'Paranormal Activity,' but with superpowers?". Los Angeles Times. 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  3. ^ a b "Chronicle (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Holben, Jay (March 2012). "Power Trip". American Cinematographer (Hollywood, California: ASC Holding Corp.): 42–49. 
  5. ^ "Cape Town stars as the location for US box office smash hits". 14 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Woerner, Meredith (February 2, 2012). "Chronicle captures every teen’s fantasy of fighting back, say film’s creators". io9. Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Cape the big star as US film crew rolls in". 15 May 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Ryan J. Downey (February 6, 2012). "'Chronicle' Makes Fourth Highest Super Bowl Debut". MTV Movie News. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Joshua L. Weinstein (February 4, 2012). "'Chronicle,' 'Woman in Black' Shatter Box Office Expectations on Friday". The Wrap. Reuters. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Box Office: 'Chronicle' soars on Super Bowl weekend [Updated]". Los Angeles Times. February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Chronicle (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved February 3, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Chronicle". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 1, 2012). "Chronicle review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  14. ^ Dinning, Mark. "Empire's Chronicle Movie Review". Empire. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Chronicle Review". Total Film. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  16. ^ Schenker, Andrew (February 1, 2012). "Chronicle Film Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  17. ^ Trumbore, Dave (2013). "Writer Max Landis Talks CHRONICLE 2 Featuring the World’s First Super-Villain; Comments on Possibility of Josh Trank Directing the Sequel". Collider. 
  18. ^ Brooks, Brian (March 7, 2012), Max Landis Set To Write ‘Chronicle 2′ For Fox, retrieved May 15, 2012 
  19. ^ The Hollywood Reporter (Los Angeles, California: Prometheus Global Media, LLC). March 23, 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Fox Isn't Happy With 'Chronicle' Sequel Script, John Landis Says, MTV (October 11, 2012).
  21. ^ Landis Says Chronicle 2 Will be "Really Dark"
  22. ^ Nicholson, Max (August 12, 2013). "Max Landis on His Now-Dead Chronicle 2 Script". IGN. 
  23. ^ "Fox Hires Newcomer Jack Stanley To Script ‘Chronicle 2′". 

External links[edit]