Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

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Percy Jackson & the Olympians:
The Lightning Thief
A youth, standing in a large body of water in the dark, holds a bolt of lightning in his raised right arm and faces away, towards a city skyline
American theatrical release poster
Directed byChris Columbus
Screenplay byCraig Titley
Based onThe Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
Produced by
CinematographyStephen Goldblatt
Edited byPeter Honess
Music byChristophe Beck
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • February 2, 2010 (2010-02-02) (Canada)
  • February 12, 2010 (2010-02-12) (United States)
Running time
119 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom[2]
  • United States[2]
Budget$95 million[3][4]
Box office$226.4 million[4]

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (also known as Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) is a 2010 action fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus from a screenplay by Craig Titley, based on the 2005 novel The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. The film is the first installment in the Percy Jackson film series. It stars Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson alongside an ensemble cast that includes Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener, Kevin McKidd, Joe Pantoliano, and Uma Thurman.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was released theatrically in the United States on February 12, 2010, by 20th Century Fox.[5] The film received mixed reviews from critics, with criticism for the poor grasp of its source material and its script, but praise for Lerman and Jackson's performances, visual effects, and the action sequences. The film grossed $226.4 million worldwide against a production budget of $95 million.[4] It was released on June 29, 2010 on DVD[6] and Blu-ray Disc.[7] A video game based on the film was released for Nintendo DS on February 11, 2010. A sequel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, was released on August 7, 2013.


At the top of the Empire State Building, Zeus meets Poseidon, accusing Poseidon's demigod son, Percy Jackson, of stealing Zeus' master lightning bolt. Poseidon reminds his brother that Percy is unaware of his true identity, but Zeus declares that unless the bolt is returned to Mount Olympus before midnight of the Summer Solstice in two weeks, war will be waged between all the gods.

Percy struggles with dyslexia and ADHD, but has a unique ability to stay underwater for long periods of time. On a school trip, Percy is attacked by Alecto, a Fury masquerading as his substitute English teacher, who demands the lightning bolt. Percy's best friend Grover Underwood and his Latin teacher Mr. Brunner help scare off Alecto. Mr. Brunner gives Percy a pen which he claims is a very powerful cosmic weapon, and instructs Grover to take Percy and his mother Sally to Camp Half-Blood — a hidden summer camp for demigod children on Long Island, leaving behind Sally's abusive husband, Gabe Ugliano. There, they are attacked by the Minotaur, who seemingly kills Percy's mother. Percy discovers that Mr. Brunner's pen is a magical sword, and uses it to fight off the Minotaur, killing it with its own horn.

Waking up three days later, Percy learns he is the son of Poseidon, Grover is a satyr and Percy’s protector, and Mr. Brunner is Chiron, a centaur. Percy starts coming into his latent demigod powers, which include hydrokinesis and healing, and meets other demigods, including Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena; and the camp's leader Luke Castellan, son of Hermes. Percy is visited by an apparition of Hades, who reveals that the Minotaur abducted Sally to the Underworld to trade for the lightning bolt. Defying Chiron's orders, Percy sets out for the Underworld with Grover and Annabeth. Luke gives Percy a map with the location of three green pearls belonging to Hades' wife, Persephone, which will allow them to escape the Underworld. Percy is also given a pair of flying winged shoes stolen from Hermes, and Luke's favorite shield. Meanwhile, Percy is declared a missing person.

At a garden centre in New Jersey, with help from Grover and Annabeth, Percy manages to decapitate Medusa and takes the first pearl from her corpse. At the Parthenon in Nashville, Percy uses the shoes to retrieve the second pearl from the crown of the statue of Athena there, and Grover kills a Hydra with Medusa's head. The trio arrive at the Lotus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to obtain the third pearl; however, they forget their mission after eating lotus flowers, the effects from which causes them to lose sense of time. Percy snaps out from the spell after hearing the voice of his father, Poseidon, through telepathy telling him not to eat any more flowers. Percy frees Grover and Annabeth from the flowers' effects; they locate the final pearl in the casino and escape the hotel. Annabeth realizes that they only have one day left to prevent the gods' war, as they were in the casino for five days. They discover that the Underworld is in Hollywood and race there. With all three pearls, Percy, Grover, and Annabeth enter the portal to the Underworld upon arriving in Hollywood.

In the Underworld, Hades finds the lightning bolt hidden inside Luke's shield, revealing that Luke was the thief all along. Hades tries to kill the trio, but Persephone turns on him in retaliation for imprisoning her, and gives the bolt to Percy. As they only have three pearls, Grover remains behind, while Percy, Annabeth, and Sally teleport to the Empire State Building, the entrance to Mount Olympus. However, before they can enter, they are ambushed by Luke, who reveals that he stole the bolt to demolish Mount Olympus and establish the demigods as new rulers of Western civilization. After a battle across Manhattan, Percy defeats Luke, returns the lightning bolt to Zeus, and reconciles with his father. Having been reunited with Grover, Percy and Annabeth continue to train back at Camp Half-Blood.

In a mid-credits scene, Sally has kicked Gabe out of her apartment. He breaks open the locked refrigerator to get a beer and is turned to stone by Medusa's head.


Logan Lerman plays the titular character.


Chris Columbus is the film's director and producer.

In June 2004, 20th Century Fox acquired feature film rights to the book.[13] In April 2007, director Chris Columbus was hired to helm the project.[14] Filming began in April 2009 in Vancouver,[10] and Mammoth Studios in Burnaby was selected to be the studio.[15] Portions of the film were shot at the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, that has a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens.[16] The Lotus Casino sequence was filmed at The Westin Bayshore in Vancouver in June 2009, and additional scenes of Percy, Grover and Annabeth driving to and from the casino were shot on the Las Vegas Strip and in front of the Fremont Street Experience. Filming wrapped up on the morning of July 25, 2009, in Mission, British Columbia. Additional exterior scenes were filmed on location in Brooklyn, New York during the first week of August 2009.[17] Digital intermediate work began in San Francisco in November 2009.[18] Christophe Beck composed the score.[19] Columbus has stated that the cast was chosen specifically with sequels in mind. "I think with Percy Jackson it was a matter of finding the right cast to fit into these roles, sort of the perfect cast for these roles, because hopefully, God willing, we will go on to do other Percy Jackson films and you want the cast to grow with their characters".[20]

During production, Riordan was disappointed with the changes made to the story and warned the studio that it would likely alienate the readers of the book series that it was depending on to buy tickets. In two emails commenting at length on a draft of the script that he posted to his blog in 2018, he specifically warned the studio that trying to make the story more attractive to a teenage audience by aging the characters and including some profanity in the script might move a significant portion of the books' readers to leave the theater in disgust long before the movie ended. He also felt the introduction of Persephone's pearls as a plot device made no sense, having no basis in mythology and distracting Percy from his goal of recovering the stolen lightning.[21]


Box office[edit]

The film opened on February 12, 2010, in 3,356 theaters; its opening weekend box-office results totaled $31.2 million[4] in the U.S., finishing at #3 below The Wolfman, which opened at #2 with $31.5 million and below Valentine's Day, which opened at #1 with $56.3 million.[22] The film had a strong opening weekend for its genre, posting the highest opening weekend for a fantasy film not from the Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the Rings series.[23] As of September 14, 2010, it grossed a total of $88.8 million in the U.S. and Canada with $137.7 million elsewhere in the world, bringing it to $226.5 million.[4]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 49% based on reviews from 150 critics, with an average score of 5.30/10. The site's consensus reads: "Though it may seem like just another Harry Potter knockoff, Percy Jackson benefits from a strong supporting cast, a speedy plot, and plenty of fun with Greek mythology."[24] On Metacritic it has a score of 47 out of 100, based on 31 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[25] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on a scale from A+ to F.[26]

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described the film as "standard Hollywood product... unadventurous and uninteresting".[27] The reviewer for The Washington Post thought "the movie suffers by taking itself a little too seriously. It's not just that it's a lot less funny than the book. It's also a lot less fun".[28] On BBC Radio 5, Mark Kermode criticized the similarity of the film to director Chris Columbus's Harry Potter films, likening it to a Harry Potter parody book and dubbing it Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins.[29] This comment later sparked a satirical fan creation with precisely that title, narrated by Stephen Fry.[30]

The author, Rick Riordan, publicly criticized the final script. He revealed email recommendations for script changes with names redacted. Regarding future support for a reboot Riordan said, "In the future, if some project actually does get underway, I may not be able to comment on it for contractual reasons, but you can tell how I'm feeling about it by what I do or don’t say. Am I talking about it? Promoting it? Sharing cool things? I am probably happy. Am I completely ignoring it and never mentioning it on social media? Yeah . . . that’s probably not a good sign. For instance, check out my website, Do you see any indication there that the Percy Jackson movies ever existed? No. No, you do not."[31][32][33] He also shared in the same email “The script as a whole is terrible. I don't simply mean that it deviates from the book, though certainly it does that to point of being almost unrecognizable as the same story. Fans of the books will be angry and disappointed.”[34]


Award Category Recipients Result References
2010 MTV Movie Awards Breakthrough Performance Logan Lerman Nominated [35]
Best Fight Logan Lerman vs. Jake Abel Nominated
Teen Choice Awards 2010 Choice Movie Actress: Fantasy Rosario Dawson Nominated [36][37]
Choice: Breakout Female Alexandra Daddario Nominated
Choice: Breakout Male Logan Lerman Nominated
Choice: Fight Logan Lerman vs. Jake Abel Nominated
37th Saturn Awards Best Performance by a Younger Actor Logan Lerman Nominated [38]
2010 Scream Awards Best Cameo Rosario Dawson Nominated [39]


Video game[edit]

A video game based on the film developed by Griptonite Games and published by Activision was released exclusively for Nintendo DS on February 11, 2010.[40] GameZone's Michael Splechta gave it a 6/10, saying "Percy Jackson might not make a splash when it comes to movie tie-in games, but fans of turn-based combat might find some redeeming qualities in this otherwise bare-bones game."[41] On Metacritic, the game has a score of 56 out of 100 based on 6 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[42]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on June 29, 2010 on DVD[6] and Blu-ray.[7] The movie itself charted at the top of the charts (DVD sales) with $13,985,047 in revenue in its first week.[43] As of October 2011, the movie had sold 2,087,368 DVDs with over $37 million in sales.[44]


In October 2011, 20th Century Fox announced a stand-alone sequel based on the second book, The Sea of Monsters.[45] The film was released on August 7, 2013.[46]


  1. ^ "PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  2. ^ a b "Percy Jackson & The Olympians The Lightning Thief (2010)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  3. ^ "'Valentine's Day,' 'Percy Jackson' and 'Wolfman': The more they cost, the less they made". Los Angeles Times. February 15, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2010. The debut of "Percy Jackson" was good, but not great given its $95-million production budget funded by 20th Century Fox, Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Film Partners.
  4. ^ a b c d e Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief at Box Office Mojo
  5. ^ "Contact Information and FAQ:Rick Riordan". Retrieved 2010-01-22.
  6. ^ a b ASIN B003HARV3Y, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  7. ^ a b ASIN B002ZG98J6, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief [Blu-ray]
  8. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (March 2, 2009). "'Percy Jackson' finds lead actors". Variety. Archived from the original on April 13, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  9. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. (March 18, 2009). "'Lightning Thief' finds female lead". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 24, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d Siegel, Tatiana (March 25, 2009). "Fox 2000 bulks up 'Percy Jackson'". Variety. Archived from the original on April 30, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Hewitt, Chris (May 7, 2009). "Dawson And Coogan Join Percy Jackson". Empire. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  12. ^ Kit, Borys (April 15, 2009). "Catherine Keener joins 'Percy Jackson' film". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 19, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  13. ^ Brodesser, Claude (June 23, 2004). "'Lightning Thief' strikes Maverick". Variety. Archived from the original on April 30, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  14. ^ Gilstrap, Peter (April 17, 2007). "Columbus struck by 'Lightning'". Variety. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  15. ^ "Credits | Mammoth Studios".
  16. ^ "Portions Of Movie To Be Shot At Parthenon". WSMV-TV. June 2, 2009. Archived from the original on July 3, 2009. Retrieved June 25, 2009.
  17. ^ Chris Columbus, Joe Pantoliano And Logan Lerman On Location For "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" - August 1, 2009. Wireimage. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  18. ^ Caranicas, Peter (October 20, 2009). "Goldblatt, Deakins follow similar path". Variety. Archived from the original on January 3, 2010. Retrieved December 24, 2009.
  19. ^ Knowles, Harry (November 20, 2009). "New trailer for Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief hits..." Ain't It Cool News. Archived from the original on November 23, 2009. Retrieved December 24, 2009.
  20. ^ Roberts, Sheila (February 8, 2009). "Exclusive Chris Columbus Interview". Roll Credits. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2009.
  21. ^ Riordan, Rick (November 16, 2018). "Memories from my TV/Movie Experience". Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  22. ^ Valentine's Day (2010) - Daily Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo
  23. ^ Brandon Gray (February 16, 2010). "Weekend Report: 'Valentine's Day' Massacres Presidents' Day Record". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  24. ^ "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  25. ^ "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  26. ^ "'Valentine's Day,' 'Percy Jackson' and 'Wolfman': The more they cost, the less they made". Los Angeles Times. 15 February 2010. the movie got a B+ grade from moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore, a sign of healthy word-of-mouth.
  27. ^ Turan, Kenneth (February 12, 2010). "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Review". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
  28. ^ "Critic Review for Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
  29. ^ Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief reviewed by Mark Kermode on YouTube
  30. ^ "Septemberfest". Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Reviews. BBC Radio 5 live. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  31. ^ "Memories from my TV/Movie Experience". 16 November 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  32. ^ Petski, Denise (8 June 2020). "Rick Riordan Slams 'Percy Jackson' Movies But Remains Optimistic About Disney+ Series Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood.
  33. ^ Rico, Klaritza (8 June 2020). "'Percy Jackson' Author Slams Films: 'It's My Life's Work Going Through a Meat Grinder'". Variety.
  34. ^ "Memories from my TV/Movie Experience | Rick Riordan". 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2022-06-28.
  35. ^ "MTV Movie Awards: When Twilight & Betty White Collide!". E! Online. 2010.
  36. ^ "First Wave of "Teen Choice 2010" Nominees Announced". The Futon Critic. June 14, 2010. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  37. ^ "Winners of 'Teen Choice 2010' Awards Announced; Teens Cast More Than 85 Million Votes". Archived from the original on 2010-08-19. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  38. ^ "37th Annual Saturn Award Nominations". Archived from the original on 2016-03-27. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
  39. ^ 2010 Scream Awards#Best TV Show
  40. ^ "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief for DS - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Nintendo DS - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief DS Game". Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  41. ^ Splechta, Michael. "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief Review". Archived from the original on March 5, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  42. ^ "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
  43. ^ "US DVD Sales Chart for Week Ending Jul 4, 2010".
  44. ^ "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - DVD Sales". The Numbers.
  45. ^ Weinstein, Joshua L. (October 12, 2011). "Fox Sets Valentines Day 2013 Release for Next 'Die Hard'". Reuters. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  46. ^ "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Moved up to August 7". 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-04-21.

External links[edit]