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 science fiction thriller film directed by Josh Trank and with a screenplay by Max Landis from a story by them both. 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.


Friendless Seattle teenager Andrew Detmer endures frequent abuse from bullies and his alcoholic father Richard, while also coping with his loving mother Karen's battle with cancer. He begins to videotape his life. His cousin, Matt Garetty, invites him to a party to help him mingle, but his filming causes an altercation with an attendee who throws his drink in Andrew's face. Popular student Steve Montgomery finds a crying Andrew outside the party, and asks him to record a large hole in the woods. Accompanied by a drunken Matt, they journey through a small tunnel where they discover a glowing crystalline object, which causes inexplicable phenomena as they approach it. As the object begins to react violently, the camera shorts out.

Weeks later, Andrew, Matt, and Steve have developed telekinetic abilities. They develop a close friendship, using their abilities to play and record pranks, which goes too far after Andrew telekinetically pushes a motorist off the road and into a nearby pond. After the trio barely manages to save the man's life, Matt realizes how dangerous their powers can be and insists that they restrict use of them, particularly against living things.

After discovering they can fly, the friends agree to fly around the world together following graduation, with Andrew in particular desiring to visit Tibet because of its peaceful nature. Steve encourages Andrew to enter the school talent show, where the latter amazes his fellow students by disguising his powers as a magic act. Andrew relishes his newfound popularity at a house party, but the night ends in disaster when a drunken Andrew goes upstairs to have sex with a classmate who he subsequently vomits on.

As Karen's condition worsens, Andrew becomes increasingly withdrawn and aggressive. When Richard strikes him during an argument, Andrew violently repels him and flees the house. Steve and Matt suffer nosebleeds - indicating when the others are overexerting their powers - and Steve flies to find Andrew sobbing in the middle of a storm. He attempts to console him, but Andrew becomes increasingly frustrated, unconsciously controlling the storm which culminates in Steve being struck by lightning and killed. Andrew denies responsibility when confronted by Matt at Steve's funeral, but later privately begs for forgiveness at Steve's grave.

Due to the incident at the party as well as Steve's death, Andrew's relationship with Matt grows strained and he is once again ostracized at school. After using his powers to rip teeth out of a bully's mouth in front of a crowd of other students, 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 using Richard's firefighter gear and uses his powers to steal money. While robbing a gas station, he inadvertently causes an explosion that puts him in the hospital. At his bedside, a saddened Richard informs an unconscious Andrew that Karen has died and blames Andrew for her death. As his father is about to strike him, Andrew abruptly grabs his arm and blows out the wall of the room.

While at a birthday party, Matt experiences a severe nosebleed and senses Andrew is in trouble. He and his girlfriend, Casey, go to the hospital, where Andrew flies out of the hospital room, dangling his father before dropping him. Matt flies up and saves Richard before attempting to reason with Andrew. However, Andrew is too far gone in his rage and attacks Matt. Their fight takes them across the city, crashing through buildings and hurling vehicles. Eventually, the duo exhaust themselves and wind up in a plaza, where police surround them. Andrew's rage reaches a breaking point and he begins to destroy everything around him. Realizing that Andrew can't be stopped or reasoned with, Matt reluctantly impales Andrew using a spear of the statue, killing him instantly. Despite his injuries, Matt is able to fly away before the police can reach him.

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


DeHaan and Wood, whose characters feature in an "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]



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.[6]


For budgetary reasons, the film was shot primarily in Cape Town, South Africa, with Film Afrika Worldwide, as well in Vancouver, Canada.[7][8] Trank cited the films Akira, Carrie and The Fury as influences on Chronicle.[9] Filming started in May 2011 and continued for eighteen weeks, ending in August 2011.[10] Cinematographer Matthew Jensen used the Arri Alexa video camera to shoot the film and Angenieux Optimo and Cook s4 lenses.[7] Postproduction techniques were used to give it a "found footage" look.[7] A cable cam rig was used for a shot in which the character Andrew levitated his camera 120 feet into the air.[7] The Arri Alexa camera was mounted on a skateboard to simulate Andrew's camera sliding across a floor.[7] Stuntmen were suspended from crane wire rigs for flying scenes, with green screen special effects used for closeups of the actors.[7] 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.[7] His "Seattle" bedroom was actually a set constructed on a film studio stage in Cape Town.[7] 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.[7] DVD dailies were provided to the director and cinematographer by the Cape Town firm HD Hub.[7]

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.[11]


Chronicle opened in 2,907 theaters in the United States and Canada on February 3, 2012.[12] 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.[13] By its first day the film had earned an estimated $8.65 million[13] and finished the weekend as the top film with $22 million, surpassing The Woman in Black ($21 million) and The Grey ($9.5 million)[12] to become the fourth-highest Super Bowl debut.[12] 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.[14] 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 185 reviews and an average rating of 7.10/10. 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."[15] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100 based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[17]

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.”[18] 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."[19] 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."[20] 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."[21] 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."[22] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called it "A clever twist on superpowers and hand-held filmmaking that stumbles before the ending."[23]

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."[24][25]


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]

Following its successful release, steps toward production of as sequel were taken.[26] Fox hired Landis to write the script for it, but the involvement of Trank as director was unclear.[27][28] It was reported in October 2012 that Fox was not happy with the script,[29] but in April 2013, Landis said that Fox liked the script—which would be darker in tone—and production was moving along.[30] However, in July 2013, Landis stated that new writers had taken over to write the film,[31] and in March 2014, Fox hired Jack Stanley to write.[32]

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."[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chronicle". British Board of Film Classification. January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 83 m 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. ^ Patches, Matt (May 5, 2020). "The Post-Disaster Artist". Polygon. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Cape Town stars as the location for US box office smash hits". 14 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  9. ^ Woerner, Meredith (February 2, 2012). "Chronicle captures every teen's fantasy of fighting back, say film's creators". io9. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Cape the big star as US film crew rolls in". 15 May 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b c Ryan J. Downey (February 6, 2012). "'Chronicle' Makes Fourth Highest Super Bowl Debut". MTV Movie News. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Box Office: 'Chronicle' soars on Super Bowl weekend [Updated]". Los Angeles Times. February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  15. ^ "Chronicle (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  16. ^ "Chronicle". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 1, 2012). "Chronicle review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Dinning, Mark. "Empire's Chronicle Movie Review". Empire. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  20. ^ "Chronicle Review". Total Film. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  21. ^ Travers, Peter (2 February 2012). "Chronicle". Rolling Stone.
  22. ^ Debruge, Peter (1 February 2012). "Chronicle". Variety (magazine).
  23. ^ "Chronicle: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  24. ^ Schenker, Andrew (February 1, 2012). "Chronicle Film Review". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on February 3, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  25. ^ Cabin, Chris. "Blu-ray Review: Chronicle".
  26. ^ "The Hollywood Reporter". Los Angeles, California: Prometheus Global Media, LLC. March 23, 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Brooks, Brian (March 7, 2012). "Max Landis Set To Write 'Chronicle 2′ For Fox". Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  29. ^ Fox Isn't Happy With 'Chronicle' Sequel Script, John Landis Says, MTV (October 11, 2012).
  30. ^ Landis Says Chronicle 2 Will be "Really Dark"
  31. ^ Nicholson, Max (August 12, 2013). "Max Landis on His Now-Dead Chronicle 2 Script". IGN.
  32. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (March 31, 2014). "Fox Hires Newcomer Jack Stanley To Script 'Chronicle 2'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  33. ^ Patches, Matt (May 5, 2020). "The post-disaster artist". Polygon. Retrieved May 6, 2020.

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