Ender's Game (film)

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Ender's Game
Ender's Game poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gavin Hood
Produced by
Screenplay by Gavin Hood
Based on Ender's Game 
by Orson Scott Card
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Editing by Zach Staenberg
Distributed by Summit Entertainment
Release dates
  • October 24, 2013 (2013-10-24) (Germany)
  • November 1, 2013 (2013-11-01) (United States)
Running time 114 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $110,000,000[2]
Box office $125,537,191[3]

Ender's Game is a 2013 American science fiction film based on the novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card. Directed and written by Gavin Hood, the film stars Asa Butterfield as Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, an unusually gifted child who is sent to an advanced military academy in outer space to prepare for a future alien invasion. The cast includes Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, and Ben Kingsley.

The film was released in Germany on October 24, 2013, followed by a release in the United Kingdom and Ireland one day later.[4] It was released in the United States, Canada, and several other countries on November 1, 2013, and was released in other territories by January 2014.


Fifty years prior to the start of the film, an alien species called the Formics attacked Earth, killing tens of millions, but the invasion was eventually stopped by a heroic commander (Mazer Rackham) who rams his ship into an alien vessel, somehow stopping the rest of their fleet. In response to the attack, humanity decided to recruit gifted children and train them to become commanders. In the present day, one of these young cadets, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, draws the attention of Colonel Hyrum Graff and Major Gwen Anderson. He cleverly defeats one of his classmates (Stilson) in a space battle simulation. To test him, Graff and Anderson remove Ender's monitor, signifying his removal from the program. Stilson, embarrassed by the loss, attacks Ender but is severely beaten. At home, he confesses grief over his actions to his sister Valentine and has to face their older brother Peter in a fight where he is nearly choked. Graff and Anderson visit the Wiggins and offer Ender a place in Battle School, admitting that the final test was to see how he would react to losing his monitor, and they are intrigued by his desire to win a fight so thoroughly that the enemy never retaliates. Graff talks privately with him, and recruits him by saying they need young minds to become brilliant commanders.

Ender joins the other "launchies" aboard the shuttlecraft for Battle School. They are shown their accommodations, the classes, and a large glass sphere called the Battle Room, where they are to play a series of laser tag-like games against other teams in zero gravity. Although Ender is looked down on at the beginning, he begins to earn respect from his peers when he starts to test the authority of the commanders. In his off time, Ender plays a "mind game" program where his character is presented with a no-win scenario. Frustrated with the game, he decides to kill the presenter of the dilemma, something that Major Anderson had never seen a student attempt before.

Ender is transferred to Salamander Army, which is led by Commander Bonzo Madrid. Bonzo takes an immediate dislike to Ender, seeing him as a potential threat to his leadership and orders him to not do any training, but Ender convinces him otherwise. Teammate Petra Arkanian sympathises with Ender and takes him under her wing, giving him shooting lessons and training in their free time. In their first battle, Bonzo orders him to hang back and observe, but Ender spots a weakness in the enemy's setup and, with the help of Petra, launches a surprise attack for the victory.

Ender continues the mind game, where he encounters a Formic. He then follows an animated version of Valentine to a collapsed castle, where he fights a snake, but then sees Peter (whose appearance surprises Anderson and Graff). Graff gives Ender command of Dragon Army, a motley crew of cadets, some of whom are Ender's former colleagues. As they climb the school's rankings, they are presented with a battle where they have to face two armies at once, including Bonzo's Salamander Army. Although at a severe disadvantage, Ender devises a brilliant strategy for victory. Afterwards, Bonzo challenges Ender to a fight in the showers, but when Ender retaliates, Bonzo is critically injured. Ender resigns and returns to Earth, but Graff convinces Valentine to bring him back.

Instead of returning to Battle School, Ender and Graff head to an advance base established at a Formic colony near their home world. In his room he encounters Mazer Rackham, who explains what really happened that heroic day, and the vulnerabilities he has learned about the Formics. Ender is reunited with some of his Battle School comrades, who have taken commanding positions in the fleet. Petra commands the Molecular Detachment (MD) Device,[note 1] a weapon that can disintegrate matter. Together they engage in Mazer's battle scenarios, each one more intense than the previous. In the latest one, Ender is overwhelmed and tries to assume too much control, resulting in failure. On the graduation final test, they are presented with a photo-realistic simulation of the Formic home planet. At first, the Formics do not attack, but they eventually engage in a swarm when the MD Device wipes out a chunk of their forces. Ender has the fleet's fighters protect the MD Device but leaves the rest of the carriers defenseless. He sends the single ship in a suicidal trajectory towards the planet and gets Petra a clear shot with the device again, devastating the surface of the planet and wiping out the Formics. After he briefly celebrates with his team, Ender notices Graff and the others celebrating as well; Graff reveals that the final simulation was the real battle and that Ender has destroyed the Formics' home planet. He tells Ender he will be remembered as a hero, but a remorseful Ender says that he will be remembered not as a hero, but as a killer.

After being sedated and carried to his room, Ender realizes that the Formics had tried to communicate with him in the mind game. He awakens to find Petra waiting to comfort him, but he rushes outside to a hill similar to the one he saw in the game. Inside, he finds a dying queen with a single queen egg remaining, and expresses deep sorrow. In a letter to Valentine, Ender mentions he is heading to deep space, where he carries the egg, determined to colonize a new Formic world with it.


Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin in a screenshot from the film's official trailer



Since Ender's Game was published in 1985, author Orson Scott Card had been reluctant to license film rights and artistic control for the novel. Card explained that he had many opportunities through the 1980s and 1990s to sell the rights of Ender's Game to Hollywood studios, but refused when creative differences became an issue.[22] With the formation of Fresco Pictures in 1996 (which Card co-founded), the author decided to write the screenplay himself.[23]

In a 1998 interview, Card discussed the process of adapting the novel into a screenplay.

The first decision I made was not to pursue the PeterValentine subplot with the Internet, because that's just watching people type things into the computer. The second decision I made was to give that information about the surprise at the end from the start. In my script we know who Mazer Rackham really is and we know what is at stake as Ender plays his games. But Ender doesn't know, so I think the suspense is actually increased because the audience knows we're about the business of saving the world and that everything depends on this child not understanding that. We care all the more about whether he wins—and we worry that he might not want to. As we watch the adults struggle to get control of Ender, we pity him because of what's happening to him, but we want the adults to succeed. I think it makes for a much more complex and fascinating film than it would have been if I had tried to keep secrets.[9]

In 2003, Card submitted a screenplay to Warner Bros., at which time David Benioff and D. B. Weiss were hired to collaborate on a new script in consultation with the then-designated director Wolfgang Petersen. Four years later, Card wrote a new script not based on any previous ones, including his own.[24] In an interview with Wired, Card admitted two obstacles in writing his scripts were being able to "externalize" Ender's thoughts and making it work, "for people who had never read the book."[25]

Card announced in February 2009 that he had completed a script for Odd Lot Entertainment, and that they had begun assembling a production team.[26] In September 2010, it was announced that Gavin Hood was attached to the project, serving as both screenwriter and director.[27] Card said he had written "about six"[25] different scripts before Hood took over. In November 2010, Card stated that the film's storyline would be a fusion of Ender's Game and its parallel novel, Ender's Shadow, focusing on the important elements of both.[28] In October 2013, he explained that this "buddy-movie approach" between Ender and Bean was a proof of concept and once Hood took over he decided to use Petra as more of a major character.[25] On January 28, 2011, it was reported that Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman would be producing the work and would begin presenting the script to prospective investors.[29]

On April 28, 2011, it was announced that Summit Entertainment had picked up the film's distribution and Digital Domain joined Odd Lot Entertainment in a co-production role.[30] Gavin Hood joined as director, using Hood's script adaptation, and Donald McAlpine joined as cinematographer.[27][31] The Producers include creative producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman of K/O Paper Products, producers Gigi Pritzker and Linda McDonough of Odd Lot Entertainment, and producer John Textor of Digital Domain.[32] Executive producers include David Coatsworth, Bill Lischak, Cliff Plumer and Ed Ulbrich. The film was also produced by Lynn Hendee of Chartoff Productions, who has worked with Card on the development of the film for over 15 years,[33] and Robert Chartoff.[5][34] In an interview with Brigham Young University newspaper The Universe, Card said that his role as co-producer was in the early stages and that the screenplay is 100% Hood's.[33] Special effects workshop Amalgamated Dynamics provided the special character effects for the film, with founder Tom Woodruff Jr. providing character suit performances.[35]


In February 2014, in an interview with Forbes magazine, director Hood claimed that the film performed quite moderately as a financial vehicle, having been financed with a $110-million investment which garnered an $112-million return.[36] By April 2014, the movie had earned $125 million, according to Box Office Mojo.[3]


Production began in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 27, 2012.[37][38] The film was released on November 1, 2013 in the United States.[39]


Along with various T-shirts, a 2014 wall calendar, and film inspired covers for both the novel and the Ender's Game Ultimate Collection comic collection, Funko released two Pop! Vinyl figurines of Ender Wiggin and Petra Arkanian.[40] Ender's Game is also the first film to offer 3D printed replicas of in-film 3D assets. Summit Entertainment collaborated with Sandboxr, a 3D printing service, to open a new merchandising platform offering fans the unique ability to customize and build 3D prints from assets used in production.[41][42]



Ender's Game
Soundtrack album by Steve Jablonsky
Released October 22, 2013
Length 71:00
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Steve Jablonsky, Alex Gibson

The original soundtrack for Ender's Game was released on October 22, 2013. The film's score was composed by Steve Jablonsky.[43][44]

Track listing
No. Title Length
1. "Ender's War"   3:27
2. "Stay Down"   2:42
3. "Move It Launchies"   0:56
4. "The Battle Room"   3:03
5. "Mind Game Part 1"   2:24
6. "Salamander Battle"   3:34
7. "Mind Game Part 2"   3:55
8. "Dragon Army"   2:24
9. "Dragons Win"   3:53
10. "Bonzo"   1:37
11. "Ender Quits"   6:22
12. "Mazer Rackham"   2:34
13. "Enemy Planet"   3:50
14. "Command School"   2:42
15. "Graduation Day"   1:28
16. "Final Test"   6:02
17. "Game Over"   2:36
18. "The Way We Win Matters"   6:14
19. "Ender's Promise"   5:09
20. "Commander"   3:33

Ender's Game: Inside the World of an Epic Adventure[edit]

Ender's Game: Inside the World of an Epic Adventure
Author Jed Alger
Genre Science Fiction
Publisher Insight Editions
Publication date
October 15, 2013
Media type Hardcover
Pages 160
ISBN ISBN 1608872777

Ender's Game: Inside the World of an Epic Adventure is a reference book published by Insight Editions. With a foreword by Ender's Game film director, Gavin Hood, the book is broken into four parts: Ender's World, Battle School, Inside Zero-G, and Parallel Worlds. The book is filled with behind-the-scenes images of the making of Ender's Game as well as interviews with the producers, artists, directors, and cast. Included with the book are nine Battle School army logo stickers, an ID Badge for Ender, and two removable International Fleet posters.[45]

Board game[edit]

Ender's Game Battle School
Designer(s) Matt Hyra
Publisher(s) Cryptozoic Entertainment
Players 2
Playing time 30–45 minutes

Ender's Game Battle School is the official board game based on the film Ender's Game. Published on November 13, 2013 by Cryptozoic Entertainment, the game is designed by Matt Hyra.[46] Played inside the Battle Room, the player takes control of an Army led by either Commander Ender Wiggin or Commander Bonzo Madrid. With different abilities granted to each Commander, the Armies try to either capture each of its opponent's Gates or freeze the opposing Commander while avoiding other frozen players and Stars.[47]


Ender's Game partnered with Audi to bring the Audi fleet shuttle quattro to the motion picture.[48][49] The partnership with ICEE included releasing two limited time flavors: Battle School Blastberry and Orbital Orange, along with a "Train Like an Astronaut" sweepstakes.[50] Growing Basics offered a chance to win a trip to the Los Angeles premiere of Ender's Game.[51] The Langers Juice Company gave away an Ender's Game t-shirt with three proof-of-purchase.[52] Barnes & Noble also offered various promotions including novels collected in boxed sets inspired by the film.[53] Pik-Nik offered a chance to win a trip for a family of four to the Kennedy Space Center.[54] Popcorn, Indiana held a sweepstakes to win a private screening for the winner and up to 250 friends.[55] Star Studio also offered photobooth backgrounds from Ender's Game.[56]


On May 6, 2013, the official movie site for Ender's Game, I.F. Sentinel <http://www.if-sentinel.com>, launched.[57] Though the site is now filled with short, movie promotional posts, the original site contained new canonical information and characters from the film universe, including archivist Stephen Trawcki, I.F. Major Gerald Stacks, I.F. Academic Secretary Gwen Burton, I.F. Rationing Spokesman Reed Unger, and former Hegemon James van Laake.

On July 17, a recruitment video was released telling users to go to the I.F. Battle School website <http://www.if-battleschool.com>. Once there, users would be prompted to log onto their Facebook accounts and take a short aptitude test, which when finished would place the user into either Asp, Dragon, Rat, or Salamander Army.[58] Armies would go on to compete against one another in different missions. The first missions involved the users sharing their army assignments on Facebook and Twitter. Doing so unlocked a preview of the film. The second mission had the users compete by once again posting to Facebook and Twitter to try to get their names on a mosaic IMAX poster. The Dragon Army won both missions. The final mission had the users enter sweepstakes from Xbox, IMDb, Yahoo!, and Fandango. There was no winner for the final mission.[59] On September 3, the Battle Room Training game was released on the website. In this game, the user would shoot at different colored stars.[60]

A website called Battle School Command Core <http://www.endersgameuk.com> opened on September 19, 2013. The website was for those residing in the United Kingdom. The site had six games with a prize for each, including a grand prize trip for two people to NASA.[61]


In July 2013, the group Geeks Out boycotted the film in protest of Orson Scott Card's views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.[62][63] The calls for a boycott were picked up by a number of other groups and individuals in the media.[64][65][66]

In response to the boycott, Card released a statement in July to Entertainment Weekly:

Ender's Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.[67][68]

Producer Roberto Orci responded in Entertainment Weekly in March that he was not aware of Card's views when he took on development of the film adaptation. He said that "the movie should be judged on its message, not the personal beliefs of the original author", who had minimal involvement in the film. Orci also stated that "if it's on the screen, then I think it's fair game."[69] Lions Gate Entertainment released a statement stating that "we obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card".[70]


Box office[edit]

Ender's Game grossed $61.7 million in North America and $63.8 million in other parts of the world, for a worldwide gross of over $125.5 million. It was the top film in North America during its opening weekend, making $27,017,351.[3] Variety magazine listed Ender's Game as one of "Hollywood's biggest box office bombs of 2013" when it had made $87.9 million.[71]

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 61% approval rating based on 194 reviews, with an average score of 6/10. The site's consensus states: "If it isn't quite as thought-provoking as the book, Ender's Game still manages to offer a commendable number of well-acted, solidly written sci-fi thrills."[72] Review aggregator Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, gives a score of 51 based on 39 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[73]

Home media[edit]

On February 11, 2014, Ender's Game was released on DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, and PPV, with an early Digital HD window beginning January 28. The DVD includes deleted / extended scenes with optional audio commentary with Director Gavin Hood and audio commentary for the film with Producers Gigi Pritzker and Bob Orci. The Blu-ray also includes an 8-part featurette called "Ender's World: The Making of Ender's Game" and a featurette called "Inside the Mind Game".[72]

Franchise plans[edit]

Originally, there was discussion of a franchise and the director was prepared to make a sequel. The director's plan was to film a sequel movie at the same time as Ender's Game based on the sequel book, Ender's Shadow. One cast member claimed the script for Ender's Shadow exists.[74] Like the book it would be based on, Ender's Shadow, it is set at the same time as Ender's Game. The film plans changed as the child actors became too old. Instead, the new sequel plans were for Orson Scott Card's upcoming series about the aftermath of the fleet school.[75] This was being considered for both a movie sequel or a television series depending on the success of the first film.[76] However, one industry analyst has stated his belief that the weak box office opening means that a sequel is unlikely.[77]


  1. ^ In the film, the MD Device stands for Molecular Detachment Device, whereas in the book, it has also been called the Molecular Disruption Device. In both instances, they are nicknamed the Little Doctor. - Black, Jake (2009). The Authorized Ender Companion. Tor Books. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-7653-2063-6. Retrieved 2012-02-08. 


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Official media sites
Movie databases
Other links