A Sound of Thunder (film)

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A Sound of Thunder
A Sound of Thunder poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Hyams
Produced by
Screenplay by Thomas Dean Donnelly
Joshua Oppenheimer

Gregory Poirier
Based on A Sound of Thunder 
by Ray Bradbury
Music by Nick Glennie-Smith
Cinematography Peter Hyams
Edited by Sylvie Landra
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 15 May 2005 (2005-05-15) (Cannes)
  • 2 September 2005 (2005-09-02) (United States)
  • 24 November 2005 (2005-11-24) (Czech Republic)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Czech Republic
Language English
Budget $80 million[1]
Box office $11,665,465[1]

A Sound of Thunder is a 2005 science fiction thriller film directed by Peter Hyams, and starring Edward Burns, Catherine McCormack and Ben Kingsley. An international co-production between the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and the Czech Republic.

The film is based on the short story of the same name by Ray Bradbury. It is about "time tourists" who accidentally interfere too much with the past, completely altering the present. The release poster may refer to the quantum butterfly effect, in which a butterfly flaps its wings and the air currents eventually cause large storms elsewhere, fitting the time tourists effect on the future and past.


In 2055 Chicago, the Time Safari company offers the ability for people to hunt dinosaurs in the past via time travel technology. Because of the dangers of interferring with the time line, the company's activities are rigorously monitored by the government, and the safaris are limited to hunting a specific Allosaurus in the Cretaceous five minutes before a nearby volcano would erupt and kill the dinosaur otherwise. Those on the safari, including Time Safari employees led by Travis Ryer, wear isolation suits and use frozen nitrogen bullets to avoid leaving traces, and use a special floating path to avoid touching anything; further protection is provided by a bio-filter that checks for any organic material not recognized before their travel to the past. Though successful, Time Safari is vocally attacked by Sonia Rand, the developer of the time machine software TAMI, who feels scorned for not receiving credit and fears they may alter the past through their activities.

A trip with clients Eckels and Middleton goes afoul when Ryer's gun fails to go off. The dinosaur rushes the group, scattering the clients. Ryer kills the dinosaur, regroups the clients and returns to 2055, unaware that Middleton had stepped off the path. The next day, they hear reports of global increases in temperature and humidity, and Ryer observes a sudden increase in plant life. On their next trip, they find that the Allosaurus is already dead when they arrive and the volcano erupting much sooner. They quickly return and report the changes, and the government shuts down Time Safari to investigate. Ryer learns from Rand they are being struck by "time waves" that cause drastic alterations to the city as they pass due to something that happened on a previous expedition. Ryer and Rand narrowly escape a building after a time wave causes the appearance of thousands of beetles and a tree bursting through its structure. Rand warns that more time waves can be expected.

They return to Time Safari to try to fix what has gone wrong along with the government. They are struck by another time wave that leaves the city without power and now covered by dense vegetation. Evaluating the machine's logs, they find that the Eckels/Middleton expedition had come back a few grams heavier, and that the bio-filter was turned off at the time. They recognize that they can use the time machine to go back to intercept their past selves as to prevent whatever happened, but will only have a few seconds to act, and so must work to figure out who they need to stop. The Time Safari finds their equipment and gear free of anything, so Ryer and Rand leads a group through the city - now filled with evolved and deadly Baboonlizards and other new hazards that kill some of their party members - to find Eckels and Middleton. Eckels is safe but asserts he remained on the path, while Middeleton, poisoned by the new wildlife, takes his life before they can stop him. However, they are able to find a dead butterfly on the sole of the suit he used for the safari. The party make it back to Time Safari after more time waves hit, now finding the time machine partially underwater and unusable. Rand obtains the hard drive containing the TAMI software with plans to use it with the nearby university's particle accelerator as a substitute time machine.

Ryer and Rand are the only two survivors once they finally make it to the university, Rand noting that the appearance of simian-like Babboonlizards from the latest time wave means the next one will wipe away humanity. Rand prepares the accelerator and stays behind while Ryer goes through the time portal, just as the last time wave hits turning Rand into a catfish-like creature. Ryer catches up to the previous expedition, tells them the bio-filter is off, and gives his earlier self a recording of the events he has witnessed before disappearing. The expedition returns without incident to the future they had left. Ryer shares the footage with Rand, and the two successfully lobby for the shutdown of Time Safari.



The film, announced in 2001, was originally going to be directed by Renny Harlin, star Pierce Brosnan in the main role,[2] and be shot in Montreal.[3] However, Harlin was fired over a disagreement with Ray Bradbury. Brosnan left the project as well and was replaced by Edward Burns.[4]

After Franchise Pictures went bankrupt during post-production, the remaining backers provided only $30 million to work with,[5] out of the $80 million originally allocated. This put the visual effects department under time and resource constraints, forcing them to use off-the-shelf software that did not require long rendering times. The film's computer graphics ended up being harshly criticized as cheap and unconvincing (see "Reception" below).

Video games[edit]

A video game based on the film was released for the Game Boy Advance. It also had been considerably delayed, and ended up coming out slightly before the film, in March 2005.[6] It was an overhead shooter with some driving stages, and included support for co-op and deathmatch multiplayer via link cable.

A third-person action-adventure shooter based on The Thing engine was being developed by Computer Artworks for BAM! Entertainment for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, but ended up being cancelled. Its plot differed from that of the film: the changes in the course of evolution were not an accident, but acts of terrorism caused by a Luddite cult. The "present" time was also changed to 2038. The game was to have nine missions taking place in both the past and present. Real-life bands would have been hired to provide the music.[6]


The film received overwhelmingly negative critical reviews, currently holding a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 96 reviews. The film scored an average rating of 2.8 out of 10; out of 88 reviews by critics, 81 gave it a poor rating.[7] Common complaints against the film included its poor special effects, uninvolved performances, scientific errors and Ben Kingsley's hair.[8][9][10]

Due to negative reviews and lack of promotion, the production grossed only $1,900,451 in the United States and $9,765,014 elsewhere for a worldwide total of $11,665,465.[1]


External links[edit]