Chronicle (film)

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In front of a cloudy sky, three silhouettes of young men float high above Seattle, Washington.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJosh Trank
Screenplay byMax Landis
Story by
  • Josh Trank
  • Max Landis
Produced by
CinematographyMatthew Jensen
Edited byElliot Greenberg
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
Running time
83 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[2]
Box office$126.6 million[3]

Chronicle is a 2012 American found footage superhero thriller film directed by Josh Trank with a screenplay by Max Landis from a story they both co-wrote. 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 powers from an unknown object and using them for fun, although Andrew begins going down a darker path.

Chronicle premiered at the Gérardmer Film Festival on January 28, 2012, and released in the United States on February 3, 2012, by 20th Century Fox. The film grossed $126.6 million at the international box office, against a budget of $15 million. The film received generally positive reviews with praise for the premise, and received a nomination for Best Science Fiction Film at the 39th Saturn Awards.


Seattle outcast teenager Andrew Detmer is bullied at school and abused by his alcoholic father Richard, while also coping with his mother Karen's battle with cancer. His only friend is his cousin, Matt Garetty. Inspired by Matt's on-and-off girlfriend Casey, Andrew buys a camera to make a video diary about his life.

Matt invites Andrew to a party to help him mingle, but he leaves after his filming causes an altercation with another attendee. Popular student Steve Montgomery approaches Andrew and asks him to record a large hole he and Matt discovered in the woods. The three journey down the hole where they discover a glowing crystalline object. The object suddenly begins to react violently and the camera shorts out.

Weeks later, Andrew, Matt, and Steve have developed telekinetic abilities, though they suffer nosebleeds when they overexert themselves. Unable to revisit the hole after it is closed off by police, they start using their abilities to play pranks on people, but it goes too far when Andrew telekinetically pushes a rude motorist off the road into a nearby pond. After the trio manages to save the man from drowning, Matt insists they restrict the use of their powers, particularly against living beings.

After Steve discovers they can have flight abilities, the trio agrees to fly around the world together following graduation, with Andrew, in particular, desiring to visit Tibet. Steve encourages Andrew to use his powers for a magic act in the school talent show, which amazes their peers. Andrew relishes his newfound popularity at a house party, but the night ends in disaster when he drunkenly vomits on a classmate he had intended to have sex with, and Steve accidentally offends him while trying to lighten the mood.

Richard confronts Andrew after finding his camera and beats him. Andrew uses his powers to violently repel him and flees the house. In the middle of a lightning storm, Steve flies out to console him, but as Andrew becomes increasingly frustrated, Steve is suddenly struck by lightning and killed. Andrew denies responsibility when questioned by Matt at the funeral, but later privately begs forgiveness at Steve's grave.

Andrew is once again ostracized at school following the incident at the party. After telekinetically ripping teeth from a bully's mouth, Andrew begins to identify as an apex predator and rationalizes that he should not feel guilty for using his powers to hurt those weaker than him. Desperate to pay for his mother's medication, Andrew disguises himself with his father's firefighter gear and uses his powers to rob a gang and a gas station, inadvertently causing an explosion that puts him in the hospital and police custody. At his bedside, a distraught Richard informs an unconscious Andrew that Karen has died after Richard had spent the day searching for him. Richard berates Andrew for allegedly causing his mother's death and prepares to strike him, but Andrew abruptly awakens and violently blows out the wall of the room, injuring the former.

Matt experiences a severe nosebleed and realizes Andrew is in trouble after seeing a news alert on TV about a mysterious explosion downtown. He and Casey head to the hospital to find Andrew unleashing his rage all over downtown. Matt fights Andrew, crashing through buildings, hurling vehicles, and landing at Space Needle while the police surround them. Matt tries to reason with Andrew, but the latter violently injures him before threatening other bystanders. Seeing that his cousin is beyond help, Matt reluctantly kills Andrew with a spear from a nearby statue. Matt flies away before the police can reach him.

Sometime later, Matt lands in Tibet with Andrew's camera, apologizing to him while vowing to use his powers for good and discover the truth about what happened to them. He points the camera at a Tibetan monastery in the distance before flying away, leaving the camera behind.




Josh Trank had conceived the idea for Chronicle in high school and spent the following years generating ideas for the film. Up-and-coming screenwriter Jeremy Slater had collaborated with Trank while working on an unmade spec script. By 2010, Slater had moved on, leading to Trank contacting Max Landis, who agreed to co-write the film. The first draft of the script was written in three weeks after Landis had pitched the film behind Trank's back. Trank's original draft had the character of Steve being hit by a plane and dying in the middle of the second act. Landis removed this from his revisions, which "solved the entire second act". 20th Century Fox bought the rights to the project and greenlit the film with Trank serving as director in January 2011.[4]


For budgetary reasons, the film was shot primarily in Cape Town, South Africa, with Film Afrika Worldwide, as well as in Vancouver, Canada.[5][6] Trank cited the films Akira, Carrie and The Fury as influences on Chronicle.[7] Filming started in May 2011 and continued for eighteen weeks, ending in August 2011.[8] Cinematographer Matthew Jensen used the Arri Alexa video camera to shoot the film and Angenieux Optimo and Cook s4 lenses.[5] Postproduction techniques were used to give it a "found footage" look.[5] A cable cam rig was used for a shot in which the character Andrew levitates his camera 120 feet into the air.[5] The Arri Alexa camera was mounted on a skateboard to simulate Andrew's camera sliding across a floor.[5] Stuntmen were suspended from crane wire rigs for flying scenes, with green screen special effects used for closeups of the actors.[5] Andrew's video camera in the movie is a Canon XL1 MiniDV, and he later switches to an HD camera that resembles a Canon Vixia HF M30.[5] His "Seattle" bedroom is actually a set that was constructed on a film studio stage in Cape Town.[5] Due to vehicles driving on the left side of the road and have steering wheels on the right side in South Africa, American-style vehicles had to be shipped in for the production.[5] DVD dailies were provided to the director and cinematographer by the Cape Town firm HD Hub.[5]

According to Josh Trank, Max Landis was banned from set during production and Trank has not spoken to him since 2012. Trank confirmed this on Twitter in light of Landis' sexual and emotional abuse accusations.[9]


Chronicle opened in 2,907 theaters in the United States and Canada on February 3, 2012.[10] 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.[11] By its first day the film had earned an estimated $8.65 million[11] and finished the weekend as the top film with $22 million, surpassing The Woman in Black ($21 million) and The Grey ($9.5 million)[10] to become the fourth-highest Super Bowl debut.[10] Chronicle 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.[12] The film grossed $64.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $62 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $126.6 million.[3] 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.


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85% based on 186 reviews and an average rating of 7.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Chronicle transcends its found-footage gimmick with a smart script, fast-paced direction, and engaging performances from the young cast."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100 based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four, 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.”[16] Empire critic Mark Dinning gave the film four stars out of five, saying that it is "a stunning superhero/sci-fi that has appeared out of nowhere to demand your immediate attention."[17] 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."[18] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote: "Despite a gimmicky premise, Chronicle fuels its action with characters you can laugh with, understand and even take to heart."[19] Peter Debruge of Variety wrote: "Unlike other mock documentaries, which unconvincingly pass themselves off as real, Chronicle cleverly embraces the format as shorthand for a new kind of naturalism, inviting audiences to suspend disbelief and join in the fantasy of being able to do anything with their minds."[20] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called it "A clever twist on superpowers and hand-held filmmaking that stumbles before the ending."[21]

On the negative side, Andrew Schenker of Slant Magazine gave the film two stars out of four, saying that 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."[22][23]


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

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2012 Chronicle Golden Trailer Award for Best Most Original Trailer Won
Golden Trailer Award for Best in Show Nominated
IGN Summer Movie Award for Best Sci-Fi Movie Nominated
IGN Summer Movie Award for Best Movie Poster Nominated
Dane DeHaan Golden Schmoes Awards for Breakthrough Performance of the Year Won
2013 Chronicle Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film Nominated


Following its successful release, steps toward production of a sequel were taken.[24] Fox hired Landis to write the script for it, but the involvement of Trank as director was unclear.[25][26] It was reported in October 2012 that Fox was not happy with the script,[27] but in April 2013, Landis said that Fox liked the script—which would be darker in tone—and production was moving along.[28] However, in July 2013, Landis stated that new writers had taken over to write the film,[29] and in March 2014, Fox hired Jack Stanley to write.[30]

Trank commented in 2020 that following the experience of making Chronicle, he was never on board with a sequel. While he thought the sequel script was "fine", he felt that it had "nothing to do with why I wanted to do" the original film, and he did what he could to stall progress on it. "I really didn't ever want to see Chronicle 2 happen. That was my worst nightmare. First of all, I'm not doing it. Second, if somebody else does it, then you know it's gonna be a piece of shit."[31]

In August 2021, a female-led sequel was officially announced by producer John Davis. It will be set 10 years after the events of the first film and deal with topics such as fake news and coverups.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chronicle". British Board of Film Classification. January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 83m 20s
  2. ^ Steven Zeitchik (October 21, 2011). "'Chronicle': Like 'Paranormal Activity,' but with superpowers?". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 22, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Chronicle (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  4. ^ Patches, Matt (May 5, 2020). "The Post-Disaster Artist". Polygon. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Cape Town stars as the location for US box office smash hits". February 14, 2012. Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  7. ^ Woerner, Meredith (February 2, 2012). "Chronicle captures every teen's fantasy of fighting back, say film's creators". io9. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  8. ^ "Cape the big star as US film crew rolls in". May 15, 2011. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  9. ^ Sharf, Zack (June 18, 2019). "Josh Trank Banned Max Landis From Chronicle Set and Hasn't Spoken to Him Since 2012". IndieWire. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Ryan J. Downey (February 6, 2012). "'Chronicle' Makes Fourth Highest Super Bowl Debut". MTV Movie News. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Box Office: 'Chronicle' soars on Super Bowl weekend [Updated]". Los Angeles Times. February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  13. ^ "Chronicle (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 6, 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  14. ^ "Chronicle". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  15. ^ Ray Subers (February 5, 2012). "Weekend Report: 'Chronicle' Barely Overpowers 'Woman in Black'". Box Office Mojo. Chronicle's audience was 55 percent male and 61 percent under the age of 25. Overall, it received a "B" CinemaScore, and that improved to a "B+" among the under-25 crowd.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 1, 2012). "Chronicle review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  17. ^ Dinning, Mark. "Empire's Chronicle Movie Review". Empire. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  18. ^ "Chronicle Review". Total Film. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  19. ^ Travers, Peter (February 2, 2012). "Chronicle". Rolling Stone.
  20. ^ Debruge, Peter (February 1, 2012). "Chronicle". Variety.
  21. ^ "Chronicle: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. February 2, 2012.
  22. ^ Schenker, Andrew (February 1, 2012). "Chronicle Film Review". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on February 3, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  23. ^ Cabin, Chris (February 2012). "Blu-ray Review: Chronicle". Slant Magazine.
  24. ^ "The Hollywood Reporter". Los Angeles, California: Prometheus Global Media, LLC. March 23, 2012. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Brooks, Brian (March 7, 2012). "Max Landis Set To Write 'Chronicle 2′ For Fox". Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  27. ^ Fox Isn't Happy With 'Chronicle' Sequel Script, John Landis Says, MTV (October 11, 2012).
  28. ^ Landis Says Chronicle 2 Will be "Really Dark"[dead link]
  29. ^ Nicholson, Max (August 12, 2013). "Max Landis on His Now-Dead Chronicle 2 Script". IGN.
  30. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 31, 2014). "Fox Hires Newcomer Jack Stanley To Script 'Chronicle 2'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  31. ^ Patches, Matt (May 5, 2020). "The post-disaster artist". Polygon. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  32. ^ Thompson, Simon. "'Jungle Cruise' Producers Discuss The Ingredients Of A Hit And How To Secure A Future For Movie Theaters". Forbes. Retrieved August 6, 2021.

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