Chronicle (film)

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Chronicle Film Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJosh Trank
Produced by
Screenplay byMax Landis
Story by
  • Josh Trank
  • Max Landis
CinematographyMatthew Jensen
Edited byElliot Greenberg
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
Running time
83 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million[2]
Box office$126.6 million[3]

Chronicle is a 2012 American found footage horror superhero film directed by Josh Trank and with a screenplay by Max Landis from a story by Trank and Landis. 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. They first use their abilities for fun and games until Andrew turns to darker purposes.

Chronicle premiered at the Gérardmer Film Festival on January 28, 2012. It was released in the United Kingdom and Ireland on February 1, 2012, and in the United States on February 3, 2012. The film grossed $126.6 million at the international box office, against a budget of $12 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.


In February 2012, Seattle teenager Andrew Detmer (DeHaan) starts videotaping his life; his mother Karen is dying of cancer and his alcoholic father Richard, who is a former firefighter, is verbally and physically abusive. At school, Andrew is frequently bullied by his classmates.

Andrew's cousin Matt Garetty (Russell) invites him to a party to help him mingle with some people, but his filming causes an altercation with an attendee and he leaves disappointed. He is persuaded by popular student Steve Montgomery (Jordan) to record something strange that he and Matt have found in the woods. The trio enter a hole in the ground, where they hear a loud strange noise and discover a large glowing blue crystalline object which turns red, and gives them painful nosebleeds. As the crystalline object begins to react violently, the camera cuts out.

Weeks later, Andrew, Matt, and Steve record themselves as they display telekinetic abilities (which they additionally find they can use to increase their strength and durability), but begin bleeding from their noses when they overexert themselves. They develop a close friendship and begin using their abilities to play pranks, but when Andrew telekinetically pushes a rude motorist off the road and into a river, Matt insists that they restrict the use of their powers, particularly against living things.

After discovering themselves being capable of flight, they agree to fly around the world together after graduation. Andrew wants to visit Tibet because of its peaceful nature. Steve encourages him to enter the school talent show to gain popularity. Andrew amazes his fellow students by disguising his powers as an impressive magic act. After the show, Andrew, Matt and Steve celebrate at a house party where Andrew becomes the center of attention. After drinking with his classmate Monica, she and Andrew go upstairs to have sex, but he vomits on her, humiliating both of them.

As time goes on, Andrew becomes increasingly withdrawn and aggressive, culminating during an argument with his father; Richard finds Andrew's camera and angrily accuses him of hoarding money when he could have used it to pay for his mother's medication. The confrontation gets physical when Richard punches Andrew, who fights back by throttling Richard into submission and throwing him across the basement, injuring him. His outburst is so extreme that it inflicts psychically connected nosebleeds on Steve and Matt. While Matt ignores the nosebleed, Steve flies up to Andrew in the middle of a storm and tries to console him. However, Andrew grows increasingly frustrated, and Steve is suddenly struck by lightning and killed. At Steve's funeral, Matt confronts Andrew about the suspicious cause of Steve's death. Andrew denies responsibility to Matt, but he privately begs for forgiveness at Steve's grave.

Andrew grows distant from Matt and again finds himself ostracized at school. After being bullied, he uses his powers to rip three teeth out of a bully's mouth. Andrew begins to identify himself as an apex predator, rationalizing that he should not feel guilt for using his powers to hurt those weaker than him akin to how people do not feel guilty for killing insects. With his mother’s condition deteriorating and having no money to pay for her medication, Andrew disguises himself using Richard's firefighter gear, where he uses his powers to steal money for her medicine. After mugging a local gang, he robs a gas station where he inadvertently causes an explosion that puts him in the hospital with severe burns, and under police investigation. At his bedside, his father informs the unconscious Andrew that his mother has died, and he angrily blames Andrew for her death. As his father is about to strike him, Andrew awakens and the wall of his hospital room explodes.

At a birthday party, Matt experiences a nosebleed and senses Andrew is in trouble. He and his girlfriend, Casey, go to the hospital, where Andrew is floating outside. After saving Richard when Andrew attempts to kill him, Matt confronts his cousin at the Space Needle and tries to reason with him, but Andrew grows hostile and irrational at any perceived attempt to control him. Andrew attacks Matt and the pair fight across the city, crashing through buildings and hurling vehicles. When police shoot Matt in the arm, Andrew throws dozens of police (and their cars) through the air, and then uses his powers to destroy the buildings around him, threatening hundreds of lives. Unable to get through to his cousin and left with no other choice, Matt uses his powers to impale Andrew with a spear from a nearby statue - killing him. The police surround Matt, after which he awakens and flies away.

Later, Matt lands in Tibet with Andrew's camera. Speaking to the camera while addressing Andrew, Matt tearfully vows to use his powers for good and to find out what happened to them in the hole. He positions the camera to view a Tibetan monastery in the distance before flying away, leaving the camera behind.


DeHaan and Wood, whose characters feature in an embarrassing "almost" sex scene in the film, had already been a couple for five years (since high school) when the film was shot, marrying a few months after its release.[4][5]


The film was written by Max Landis, from a story by him and Josh Trank, who also directed it. For budgetary reasons, the film was shot primarily in Cape Town, South Africa, with Film Afrika Worldwide, as well in Vancouver, Canada.[6][7] Trank cited the films Akira, Carrie and The Fury as influences on Chronicle.[8] Filming started in May 2011 and continued for eighteen weeks, ending in August 2011.[9] Cinematographer Matthew Jensen used the Arri Alexa video camera to shoot the film and Angenieux Optimo and Cook s4 lenses.[6] Postproduction techniques were used to give it a "found footage" look.[6] A cable cam rig was used for a shot in which the character Andrew levitated his camera 120 feet into the air.[6] The Arri Alexa camera was mounted on a skateboard to simulate Andrew's camera sliding across a floor.[6] Stuntmen were suspended from crane wire rigs for flying scenes, with green screen special effects used for closeups of the actors.[6] Andrew's video camera in the movie was a Canon XL1 MiniDV and later he switched to a HD camera that resembles a Canon Vixia HF M30.[6] His "Seattle" bedroom was actually a set constructed on a film studio stage in Cape Town.[6] Because in South Africa, vehicles drive on the left side and have steering wheels on the right side, American style vehicles had to be shipped in for the production.[6] DVD dailies were provided to the director and cinematographer by the Cape Town firm HD Hub.[6]


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 171 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 score of 69 out of 100 based on 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]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, 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 4 stars out of 5, 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 2 out of 4 stars, saying 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

Potential sequel[edit]

Fox hired Max Landis to write a sequel.[24] Whether director Josh Trank would return was unclear.[25] The Hollywood Reporter gave a brief one-line mention in its March 23, 2012 issue that a sequel was in development.[26] It was later reported that Fox was not happy with the script.[27] On April 10, 2013, Landis told IGN that Fox did like the script and they're moving along with it; Landis also said that the sequel would be darker in tone.[28] On July 17, 2013, Landis revealed that he and Trank are no longer working on the sequel and new writers have taken over to write the film.[29] In March 2014, Fox hired Jack Stanley to write the script.[30]

Trank admitted that while he thought the sequel script was "fine", he felt that it went against his reasoning for making the first film and prevented Landis from having any meetings with the studio to discuss it. "I was dodgy about stuff. I did a lot of shitty things. Because 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]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chronicle". British Board of Film Classification. January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 83m 20s
  2. ^ Steven Zeitchik (2011-10-21). "'Chronicle': Like 'Paranormal Activity,' but with superpowers?". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2011-10-22. Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  3. ^ a b "Chronicle (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  4. ^ Amy Longsdorf (9 February 2012). "Former Emmaus High student Dane DeHaan: 'I was obsessed with acting'". The Morning Call. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  5. ^ Nick Haramis (September 24, 2013). "Waxing Poetic". Out Magazine. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Cape Town stars as the location for US box office smash hits". 14 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  8. ^ Woerner, Meredith (February 2, 2012). "Chronicle captures every teen's fantasy of fighting back, say film's creators". io9. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Cape the big star as US film crew rolls in". 15 May 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  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 Media. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  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 (2 February 2012). "Chronicle". Rolling Stone.
  20. ^ Debruge, Peter (1 February 2012). "Chronicle". Variety (magazine).
  21. ^ "Chronicle: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  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. "Blu-ray Review: Chronicle".
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Brooks, Brian (March 7, 2012). "Max Landis Set To Write 'Chronicle 2′ For Fox". Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  26. ^ "The Hollywood Reporter". Los Angeles, California: Prometheus Global Media, LLC. March 23, 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  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"
  29. ^ Nicholson, Max (August 12, 2013). "Max Landis on His Now-Dead Chronicle 2 Script". IGN.
  30. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (March 31, 2014). "Fox Hires Newcomer Jack Stanley To Script 'Chronicle 2'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  31. ^ Patches, Matt (May 5, 2020). "The post-disaster artist". Polygon. Retrieved May 6, 2020.

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