Bird Box (film)

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Bird Box
Bird Box (film).png
Film release poster
Directed bySusanne Bier
Produced by
Screenplay byEric Heisserer
Based onBird Box
by Josh Malerman
Music by
CinematographySalvatore Totino
Edited byBen Lester
  • Bluegrass Films
  • Chris Morgan Productions
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • November 12, 2018 (2018-11-12) (AFI Fest)
  • December 14, 2018 (2018-12-14) (United States)
Running time
124 minutes[1]
Budget$19.8 million[2]

Bird Box is a 2018 American post-apocalyptic thriller film directed by Susanne Bier from a screenplay written by Eric Heisserer, and based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. The film follows a woman, played by Sandra Bullock, as she tries to protect herself and two children from malevolent supernatural entities that make people who look at them go insane and commit suicide.

Bird Box had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 12, 2018, and began a limited release on December 14, before streaming worldwide on Netflix on December 21, 2018.


In a post-apocalyptic world, Malorie Hayes advises two young, unnamed children that they will be going downstream on a river in a rowing boat. She strictly instructs them to not remove their blindfolds, or else they will die. From this point, the film alternates between two stages of Malorie's story, separated by five years, until they conjoin: her attempt to navigate the river and the events that led to it.

Five years earlier, a pregnant Malorie is visited by her sister, Jessica. A news report is being shown on television about unexplained mass suicides in Romania that are quickly spreading across Europe. Malorie has a routine pregnancy checkup with Jessica accompanying her to the hospital. When leaving the hospital, Malorie sees a woman bashing her head into a glass panel followed by others panicking as chaos quickly erupts throughout the town. Malorie realizes the "violence" that was spreading across Europe had already reached North America. Malorie and Jessica attempt to drive away from the violence, but Jessica witnesses the phenomenon affecting the masses and sees the entity, loses control of herself as she drives, and the car ends up overturning. An injured Malorie then witnesses Jessica walk into the path of an oncoming garbage truck, killing herself.

Malorie attempts to flee on foot through the mass chaos on the streets. A woman, Lydia, invites Malorie over to a house for safety, even though her husband, Douglas, disagrees. However, right before she reaches Malorie, she goes into a trance, begins talking to her dead mother, and casually climbs into a burning car, which subsequently explodes. Malorie is rescued and brought into their house by Tom, a fleeing passerby. While recovering at their base, one of the survivors, Charlie who seems to have somewhat comprehensive knowledge of what could be happening, theorizes that demonic entities have invaded Earth, taking the form of their victims' worst fears and driving them insane before causing them to commit suicide. At the insistence of Tom they cover all windows in the house and blindfold themselves whenever they must venture outside. Later, Greg volunteers to tie himself to a chair while monitoring the surveillance cameras to find the issue of the entity but ends up killing himself by rocking his chair violently and slamming his head into a hearthstone after seeing it.

As the supply of food decreases (and with the arrival of a new survivor, Olympia, who is also pregnant), most of the group go to a supermarket close by to restock. Malorie finds pet birds and decides to take them along with their supplies. The group attempts to help a coworker of Charlie who is locked outside the supermarket begging for help, and whom Charlie describes as "a little crazy." As they contemplate the risks of opening the door, the birds that Malorie was saving go into a hysterical fury. The group is attacked by the infected coworker, who was not killed by the entities but is instead used to infect others. Charlie sacrifices himself to save the others, who are able to make it back safely to the house.

Sometime after, Felix (a survivor) and Lucy steal the car and drive away. Soon thereafter, Olympia lets Gary, a stranger and apparent lone survivor of another group, into the house, against Douglas' objections. Douglas gets extremely upset and starts threatening the others with a shotgun and is knocked unconscious by Cheryl (an elderly survivor). Douglas is subsequently imprisoned in the garage. Later, Olympia and Malorie go into labor, and Cheryl helps with the births. Gary starts to take out various drawings of the entity and seems to undergo a trance, indicating that he could have already been partially overtaken by the entity when he arrived. He opens the garage door to kill Douglas. He peeks outside and is completely taken over; he then knocks out Tom and proceeds to remove all the coverings from all the windows. Despite Malorie's warnings, Olympia fails to look away from the windows and jumps out of the window. Gary forces Cheryl to look and as a result, Cheryl repeatedly stabs herself in the neck with a pair of scissors she is carrying. Douglas blindly attempts to kill Gary with a shotgun but fails, which results in Gary being able to kill Douglas with the scissors. While Malorie tries to protect the newborn babies (Malorie's boy and Olympia's girl), Tom recovers consciousness in time to overpower and kill Gary.

Five years later, Tom and Malorie are living together with the children, whose only names are "Boy" and "Girl." They receive a transmission from Rick, a survivor stating that they are well and safe at a community hidden in the forest. The four decide to go to the community, but are ambushed by a group of infected survivors along the way. Without hesitation, Tom runs out to distract the group while Malorie and the children attempt to make an escape. When the group notices Malorie and the children escaping, Tom decides to open his eyes and shoot them dead. He is overtaken by one of the entities, but he manages to shoot the last member of the group before shooting himself.

Malorie, the children, and their pet birds, which are being carried in a box to provide a warning against the entity, make their way blindfolded down the river on a boat. They fight off an infected survivor, and survive raging rapids.

The boat flips in the rapids, but Malorie, Boy, and Girl manage to all find each other. Soon after, all three are separated when Malorie accidentally slides down a hill. The entities attempt to convince Boy and Girl to remove their blindfolds using Malorie's voice. Malorie is able to tell them to fight the urge. Once they are all together again, they are chased by the entity, which was implied by camera movement and wind.

The three eventually reach the community, a former school for the blind. Malorie releases the pet birds from the box to the other birds up on the ceiling and finally gives the children names: Tom and Olympia.




The film rights to Bird Box were optioned by Universal Pictures in 2013, prior to the book's release.[3][4] Scott Stuber and Chris Morgan were set to produce the film, with It and Mama director Andy Muschietti attached as director.[4] Screenwriter Eric Heisserer was in negotiations to pen the script.[5] In July 2017, after Stuber became head of the feature film division of Netflix, it was announced that Netflix had acquired the rights to the book and would develop the film, with Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich starring.[6][7] Susanne Bier was announced as the director.[6]


In July 2017, Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich were cast in the film as Malorie Hayes and Douglas.[6][7] In October 2017, Danielle Macdonald, Trevante Rhodes, Jacki Weaver, Sarah Paulson, Rosa Salazar, Lil Rel Howery, and Amy Gumenick joined the cast.[8][9] In November 2017, Machine Gun Kelly and David Dastmalchian were also added.[10][11]


Principal photography began in California in October 2017.[12] Wilderness scenes were shot on the Smith River in the far northern part of the state.[13] The house exterior is from a place in Monrovia.[14] Cinematography partially took place in Santa Cruz,[15] and the final scene was shot at Scripps College.[16][17][18][19]

The production used real-life birds during filming as much as possible, replacing them with digital birds for sequences when the birds became "agitated."[20]

The film uses footage of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, which caused the death of 47 people in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Canada on July 6, 2013. The stock-footage was purchased from a vendor and Netflix stated it would stay in the movie even after a request to remove it from survivors of the disaster.[21] Netflix later removed the footage and replaced with an outtake from a canceled U.S. TV series.[22] The same footage was also used in another Netflix production, Travelers, but has since been removed.[23]

Visual effects[edit]

The visual effects were created by Industrial Light & Magic and supervised by Marcus Taormina.[24]


The film had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 12, 2018.[25] However, due to the Woolsey Fire that hit California and out of respect for the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting, Netflix cancelled AFI Fest’s red carpet coverage scheduled for the premiere.[26] The film began a limited theatrical run on December 14, 2018, before streaming on Netflix on December 21, 2018.[27]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 63% based on 152 reviews, with an average rating of 5.73/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bird Box never quite reaches its intriguing potential, but strong acting and an effectively chilly mood offer intermittently creepy compensation."[28] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 51 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[29]

Brian Tallerico from stated that "Most of the problems with Bird Box come back to a thin screenplay, one that too often gives its characters flat, expository dialogue and then writes itself into a corner with a climax that's just silly when it needs to be tense."[30] Amy Nicholson, in a review for British newspaper The Guardian, gave a negative appraisal, awarding the film 2 out of 5 stars and concluding that "as the film staggers on in its quest to give us entertainment satisfaction or death, we're tempted to identity [sic] with the movie's first victim, a woman in a tracksuit banging her head against the glass, ready to get this painful sight over with."[31] Writing for Forbes, Sarah Aswell described the movie as one "that embraces everything about the (horror genre) formula, both good and bad – this movie has moments of true, delightful, fright, but it also has some of the corniness and shallowness that many horror movies can't shake."[32] New York Times found the film occasionally riveting and disappointing.[33]

Audience viewership[edit]

According to Nielsen, Bird Box was watched by nearly 26 million viewers in its first seven days of release in the United States. It also revealed that a significant part of its audience were young aged 18 to 34 (36%), female (57%), and either African American (24%) or Latino (22%).[34] Netflix also released its own viewing figure that gave a worldwide audience of over 45 million in seven days, with views defined by the company as the film streaming for over 70 percent of its time. The viewing figure was claimed to be the best ever for a Netflix film.[35][36] This audience figure released by Netflix was met with skepticism from some analysts, who cited a lack of independent verification of the view count.[37][38] According to Netflix, the film was viewed by 80 million households in the first 4 weeks following its release.[39][40]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Visual Effects Society Awards February 5, 2019 Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature Marcus Taormina, David Robinson, Mark Bakowski, Sophie Dawes, Mike Meinardus Nominated [41]

Bird Box blindfold challenge[edit]

In Australia, Netflix originally partnered with four Twitch streamers in performing what they called a Bird Box challenge, in which they would play some popular video games while blindfolded.[42] However, the challenge became widely mimicked on the Internet by individuals wearing blindfolds while trying to do ordinary activities, causing injuries to some. In response, Netflix released several messages over social media advising people not to undertake the challenge or hurt themselves.[38] Nevertheless, in January 2019, a 17-year-old girl in a blindfold taking part in the craze drove into oncoming traffic in Utah and crashed her car, prompting the police in the state to issue the same warning as Netflix.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bird Box". AFI Fest. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  2. ^ Film and Television Tax Credit Program Program 2.0 (PDF) (Report). California Film Commission. p. 9. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  3. ^ "DETROIT PROUD: Josh Malerman". CBS. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Kit, Borys. "'Mama' Director to Helm Adaptation of 'Bird Box' (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  5. ^ "Eric Heisserer In Talks To Adapt 'Bird Box' For Universal". Deadline. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Kroll, Justin. "Sandra Bullock to Star in Netflix Thriller 'Bird Box'". Variety. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Kroll, Justin. "John Malkovich Joins Sandra Bullock in 'Bird Box'; Eyes Peter Berg's 'Mile 22' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  8. ^ Kroll, Justin. "Sandra Bullock's 'Bird Box' Rounds Out Starry Cast (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  9. ^ N'Duka, Amanda. "James Landry Hebert, Adam Bartley Cast In 'Donnybrook'; Amy Gumenick Joins 'Bird Box'". Deadline. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  10. ^ Kroll, Justin. "Machine Gun Kelly Joins Sandra Bullock in Thriller 'Bird Box'". Variety. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  11. ^ N'Duka, Amanda. "David Dastmalchian Joins Sandra Bullock In Netflix's 'Bird Box'". Deadline. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  12. ^ "Susanne Bier Begins Filming Netflix Movie Bird Box". Nordic Drama. October 31, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  13. ^ "Was 'Bird Box' filmed in Sacramento? Well, no". KXTV. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  14. ^ "'Bird Box' Home Becomes Unexpected Tourist Attraction". TMZ. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  15. ^ "Blog". Santa-Cruz. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  16. ^ "Books to Film: Josh Malerman's Debut 'Bird Box' Lands on Netflix". Publishing Perspectives. December 25, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  17. ^ "Bird Box Location: The river in California where the Netflix movie was filmed". Atlas of Wonders. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  18. ^ Bobrowsky, Meghan [@BobrowskyMeghan] (December 24, 2018). "Last winter break, Sandra Bullock was at @scrippscollege, shooting a scene for her new movie, Bird Box. This winter break, the movie came out on @netflix!" (Tweet). Retrieved January 3, 2019 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ "You can take off the blindfold and see these Bird Box film locations". Gofamgo. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  20. ^ Ian Failes (February 26, 2019). "Inside the BIRD BOX of Effects". Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  21. ^ "Angry Canadian Train Crash Survivors Claim Netflix Used Disaster Footage in "Bird Box"". Fortune. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  22. ^ Mark Kennedy (March 15, 2019). "Netflix will cut Bird Box footage months after outcry". Washington Post. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  23. ^ "Netflix won't remove controversial Bird Box scene". MSN. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  24. ^ "BIRD BOX: VFX Breakdown by Industrial Light & Magic - The Art of VFX". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  25. ^ Hammond, Pete (October 11, 2018). "AFI Fest Adds Gala Screenings 'Green Book', 'Widows', World Premiere Of Netflix's 'Bird Box' With Sandra Bullock And 'The Kominsky Method' TV Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  26. ^ Malkin, Marc. "Netflix Cancels Sandra Bullock's 'Bird Box' AFI Fest Red Carpet as California Fires Continue to Rage". Variety. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  27. ^ Parfitt, Orlando (January 22, 2018). "15 Netflix Original movies to look out for in 2018". Screen International. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  28. ^ "Bird Box (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  29. ^ "Bird Box reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  30. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Bird Box Movie Review & Film Summary (2018) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  31. ^ Nicholson, Amy (November 14, 2018). "Bird Box review – Sandra Bullock's Netflix thriller is a bird-brained mess". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  32. ^ Aswell, Sarah. "I Wrote This 'Bird Box' Review While Blindfolded". Forbes. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  33. ^ Harris, Aisha (December 13, 2018). "'Bird Box' Review: The End of the World Is Riveting. Sometimes". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  34. ^ Schneider, Michael (January 8, 2019). "Bird Box' Ratings: Nielsen Backs Up Netflix's Claims That It's a Big Hit". Variety.
  35. ^ Spangler, Todd; Spangler, Todd (December 28, 2018). "'Bird Box' Viewed by 45 Million Netflix Members in First Week, Company Says".
  36. ^ Film, Netflix (December 28, 2018). "Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film!".
  37. ^ Alexander, Julia (December 30, 2018). "Netflix says over 45 million accounts watched Bird Box — here's what that means". The Verge. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  38. ^ a b "'Bird Box' challenge: Netflix urges people to stop due to safety concerns". USA Today. January 2, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  39. ^ "Bird Box drives Netflix subscribers to 140m". January 18, 2019. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  40. ^ Roettgers, Janko (January 17, 2019). "'Bird Box' Has Been Watched by 80 Million Subscribers, Netflix Says". Variety.
  41. ^ Tapley, Kristopher; Tapley, Kristopher (January 15, 2019). "'Avengers,' 'Lost in Space,' 'Ready Player One' Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations". Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  42. ^ Stevenson, Leo (November 14, 2018). "Netflix teamed up with Twitch streamers to promote the new film Bird Box". Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  43. ^ "US driver in 'Bird Box blindfold' crashes". BBC News. January 11, 2019. Retrieved January 12, 2019.

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