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Bolt (2008 film)

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Bolt ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay by
Produced byClark Spencer
Edited byTim Mertens
Music byJohn Powell
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • November 21, 2008 (2008-11-21)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$150 million[1]
Box office$310 million[1]

Bolt is a 2008 American computer animated comedy-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 48th Disney animated feature film. Directed by Chris Williams and Byron Howard, the film stars the voices of John Travolta, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Miley Cyrus, Malcolm McDowell, Diedrich Bader, Nick Swardson, and Greg Germann. The film's plot centers on a dog named Bolt (Travolta) who, having spent his entire life on the set of a television series, firmly believes that he has super powers. When his beloved 12-year-old costar and owner, Penny (Cyrus), is “kidnapped” on the show, Bolt runs away from the set to rescue her, eventually teaming up with sarcastic alley cat Mittens and Bolt super-fan Rhino the hamster on a cross-country journey back home.

Bolt was released in the United States on November 21, 2008. Despite a relatively marginal box-office performance, the film received a strong positive critical reception and is renowned for playing an important role in instigating what is widely referred to as the Disney Revival, as well as setting the studio in a new creative direction that would lead to other critically acclaimed features such as Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013).[2][3][4][5]

This was one of the final film roles for James Lipton before his death on March 2, 2020, the other being Igor, which was released the same year as Bolt.

The film was nominated for a series of awards, such as the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.


A White Swiss Shepherd puppy named Bolt is adopted by a 7-year-old girl named Penny. Five years later, Bolt and a 12-year-old Penny star in a hit television series called Bolt, in which they fight crime with Bolt using various superpowers to protect Penny from the villain, Dr. Calico, who has kidnapped Penny's father. To gain a more realistic performance, the show's producers have deceived Bolt his entire life, arranging the filming in such a way that Bolt believes everything in the show is real and that he really has superpowers including a devastatingly powerful sonic scream-like "superbark". After a cliffhanger episode causes Bolt to believe Penny has been kidnapped, he escapes from his on-set trailer in Hollywood, but knocks himself unconscious in the process and is trapped inside a box of foam peanuts being shipped to New York City.

In New York, Bolt resumes his search for Penny. Much to his dismay and confusion, he finds out that his "superpowers" are useless. He encounters Mittens, a cynical feral cat who bullies pigeons out of their food. Believing that Mittens is an "agent" of Calico, Bolt ties her to him with a leash and forces her to guide him back to Penny. Mittens is convinced her captor is a lunatic, but the two start their journey westward by truck. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, a less-experienced Bolt look-alike is brought in so filming can resume. Penny is genuinely distraught over Bolt’s disappearance, but reluctantly agrees to halt the search so production can continue.

Surprised at his first feelings of hunger, Bolt is shown by Mittens how to act like a cute but needy dog, obtaining food for them both at an RV park. They are joined by Rhino, a fearless hamster and huge Bolt fanatic. Rhino's unwavering faith in Bolt substantiates the dog's illusions about himself, but allows Mittens to figure out Bolt is from a television show. She tries to tell Bolt this, but Bolt simply becomes frustrated as everything he believed to be real starts to crumble around him. Attempting to "superbark" her repeatedly, the noise draws the attention of the local animal control and Bolt and Mittens are both captured and taken to an animal shelter.

Bolt, freed from the patrol van by Rhino, finally realizes and accepts that he is just a normal dog. However, he regains his confidence after Rhino (oblivious to this revelation) exhorts him to heroism. They rescue Mittens from the shelter and as they continue west, Bolt and Mittens form a close friendship in which she teaches Bolt how to be an ordinary dog and enjoy typical dog activities. Mittens makes plans for the three of them to stay in Las Vegas, but Bolt is still drawn to find Penny. Mittens tells him that Penny is only an actor and humans never truly love their pets because eventually they will betray and abandon them as it happened to her. Bolt refuses to believe her and continues on alone to Hollywood, but Rhino encourages Mittens to stand by him as friends and they follow shortly after.

Bolt reaches the studio and finds Penny embracing his look-alike, unaware that Penny still misses him and her affection for the lookalike is only a part of a rehearsal. A broken-hearted Bolt leaves, but Mittens sees Penny telling her mother how much she misses Bolt. Mittens follows Bolt and explains. At the same time, the Bolt look-alike panics during the show's filming and accidentally knocks over some flaming torches, setting the stage on fire with Penny trapped inside. Bolt arrives and the two reunite inside the burning studio, but are unable to escape before Penny begins to suffocate from the smoke. Penny begs Bolt to go, but Bolt refuses to leave her. Bolt uses his "superbark" through the building's air vent, alerting the firefighters to their location and allowing both of them to be rescued in time.

Penny and her mother quit when their overeager agent proposes they exploit the incident for publicity purposes. The show continues with a replacement "Bolt" and "Penny" and a bizarre new storyline involving alien abduction. Penny adopts Mittens and Rhino as she and her family move to a rural home to enjoy a simpler, happy lifestyle with Bolt and her new pets.




Originally, the film was going to be titled American Dog and was written and directed by Chris Sanders. Eventually, Sanders was removed from the project and replaced by Chris Williams and Byron Howard.[6] The film's previous plot told the story of a dog named Henry, a famous TV star, who one day finds himself stranded in the Nevada desert with a testy, one-eyed cat and an oversized, radioactive rabbit who are themselves searching for new homes, all the while believing he is still on television. In 2006, after becoming Chief Creative Officer at Disney Animation, John Lasseter along with other directors from Pixar and Disney attended two screenings of the film and gave Sanders notes on how to improve the story. According to Lasseter, Sanders was replaced because he resisted the changes that Lasseter and the other directors had suggested. Lasseter was quoted as saying "Chris Sanders is extremely talented, but he couldn't take it to the place it had to be."[7] After Sanders left and the original title was removed, the animation team was told to complete the filming in 18 months instead of the usual four years that is normally required to produce a computer-animated feature.[8] On June 8, 2007, Disney announced that the film, now under its current name, would be released on November 21, 2008 in Disney Digital 3-D.[9][10]


The look of the film was inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and the cinematography of Vilmos Zsigmond.[11] New technology in non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) was used to give it a special visual appearance, a technique later used in Tangled (2010). To give the film's 3D backgrounds a hand-painted look, the company artists used new patented technology designed specifically for the film.[12]

Bolt's characteristics are based on an amalgam of breeds, although the designers started with the American White Shepherd.[13] Joe Moshier, lead character designer, said, "they American White Shepherds have really long ears, a trait that I tried to caricature in order to allow the animators to emphasize Bolt's expressiveness."[13]

The design of Rhino in his plastic ball was based on executive producer John Lasseter's pet chinchilla, which was brought to an animators' retreat during the film's production.[14]


Bolt (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedNovember 18, 2008 (2008-11-18)
LabelWalt Disney
CompilerWalt Disney
Walt Disney Animation Studios chronology
Meet the Robinsons (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Bolt (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Princess and the Frog (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The score to Bolt was composed by John Powell.[15] The soundtrack featured the film's score and two original songs – "I Thought I Lost You" by Bolt's stars Miley Cyrus and John Travolta (nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song on 2009) as well as "Barking at the Moon" by Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis.[15] The soundtrack was released on November 18, 2008.[16]

Although Motörhead has a song in the film, they do not seem to appear in either the soundtrack or the score. Motörhead's song "Dog-Face Boy" (from their Sacrifice album) is in a mailroom scene where a young worker is listening to it on his headphones and inadvertently wraps Bolt up in a box that gets shipped off to New York City.[17]

Track listing

Bolt (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) track listing
1."I Thought I Lost You"Miley Cyrus, Jeffrey SteeleCyrus, John Travolta3:35
2."Barking at the Moon"Jenny LewisLewis3:17
3."Meet Bolt"John PowellPowell1:49
4."Bolt Transforms"PowellPowell1:00
5."Scooter Chase"PowellPowell2:29
6."New York"PowellPowell1:43
7."Meet Mittens"Powell, James McKee SmithPowell1:25
8."The RV Park"PowellPowell2:14
9."A Fast Train"PowellPowell2:38
10."Where Were You On St. Rhino's Day?"PowellPowell1:58
11."Sing-Along Rhino"PowellPowell0:41
12."Saving Mittens"PowellPowell1:02
13."House On Wheels"PowellPowell3:07
14."Las Vegas"PowellPowell2:01
15."A Friend In Need"PowellPowell1:13
16."Rescuing Penny"PowellPowell3:09
17."A Real Life Superbark"PowellPowell0:46
18."Unbelievable TV"PowellPowell1:20
19."Home At Last / Barking At the Moon (Reprise)"Powell, LewisPowell, Lewis1:29
Total length:37:05


Bolt was theatrically released in the United States on November 21, 2008. Beginning in its fourth week in theaters, the film was accompanied by Pixar's Cars Toons short Tokyo Mater.[18]

Home media

Bolt was released on Region A Blu-ray Disc in the United States on March 22, 2009. The BD set included standard DVD and digital copy versions of the film. Single-disc DVD and Special Edition DVD with Digital Copy versions followed in Region 1 on March 24.[19] This marked the first time a major home-video release debuted on Blu-ray Disc before DVD.[20] Bolt was released on both Blu-ray and DVD in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2009.[21]

A short film called Super Rhino is included in the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film.[22] The DVD has sold 4,581,755 copies, generating $81.01 million in sales as of December 31, 2009.[23]

The 3D Blu-ray version of the film was released in November 2010, in France[24] and UK.[25] A month later it was released worldwide, exclusively to select Sony TVs.[26][27] In US, it was released on November 8, 2011.[28]


Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 89% based on 189 reviews, with an average score of 7.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Bolt is a pleasant animated comedy that overcomes the story's familiarity with strong visuals and likable characters."[29] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave the film a 67/100 approval rating based on 29 reviews following under the category "generally favorable reviews".[30] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[31]

Perry Seibert of TV Guide gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and wrote the film "amuses both those who make up the film's target audience and the parents along for the ride. This winning mix of exciting action, heart-tugging sentiment, and gentle character comedy makes Bolt yet another solid addition to Disney's history of family-friendly fare."[32] Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club gave the film a B+ stating that "Bolt is the studio's first film since Lilo & Stitch that feels like it's trying to recapture the old Disney instead of aggressively shedding it in favor of something slick and new. And yet it comes with a healthy cutting-edge Pixar flavor as well."[33] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "[Bolt] also has an intriguing plot that is kind of the family animation version of the Jim Carrey-starring The Truman Show."[34]

Box office

On its opening weekend, the film opened number 3 with $26.2 million behind Twilight and Quantum of Solace.[35] On its second weekend, it rose to No. 2 behind Four Christmases with a 1.4% increase.[36] In the United States and Canada, the film grossed $114.1 million by its closing date on February 22, 2009.[37] An additional $195.9 million was made internationally for a worldwide total of $310 million.[1][38]

Award nominations

Bolt was nominated for the following awards:

Video games

Disney Interactive Studios produced a video game based on the film, released in November 2008 for Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.[50] The game focuses on Bolt's fake TV life, not the actual storyline.[51] A separate game was released for mobile phones,[52] and a third game, RhinoBall, was released as an application on Apple's App Store.[53]


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External links