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The Book of Eli

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The Book of Eli
A man wearing sunglasses and strapped with a firearm on his back looks at something off-view in a cloudy day, all tinted with rusty coloring.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byThe Hughes Brothers
Written byGary Whitta
Produced by
CinematographyDon Burgess
Edited byCindy Mollo
Music by
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures (North America)
Summit Entertainment (International)
Release date
  • January 15, 2010 (2010-01-15)
Running time
118 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$80 million
Box office$157.1 million

The Book of Eli is a 2010 American post-apocalyptic neo-Western[2][3] action film directed by the Hughes Brothers, written by Gary Whitta, and starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, and Jennifer Beals. The story revolves around Eli, a nomad in a post-apocalyptic world who seeks to deliver his copy of a mysterious book to a safe location on the West Coast of the United States. Filming began in February 2009 and took place in New Mexico.[4]

The Book of Eli was released theatrically in the United States on January 15, 2010, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It received mixed reviews from critics, but earned $157.1 million in the worldwide box office on a budget of $80 million.


Thirty years after a nuclear holocaust caused an ecocide, Eli travels on foot across the wasteland of the former United States.[5][6] Wearing sunglasses and ragged clothes, he demonstrates uncanny survival and fighting skills. Searching for water, he arrives in a ramshackle town ruled by a warlord named Carnegie, who seeks to control the people through the power of a certain book, which his henchmen have been unable to find.

Eli barters with a store owner, the Engineer, to recharge the battery of his portable music player. At the town bar, he is attacked by a gang of bikers but swiftly kills them all. Impressed, Carnegie invites Eli to join his employ, but Eli declines. Realizing Eli is a literate man like himself, Carnegie forces him to stay the night under guard. Carnegie's blind mistress Claudia brings Eli food and water and Carnegie orders her daughter Solara to seduce Eli, but he rebuffs her. Solara sees Eli has a book, and he offers to share his food, saying grace before they eat. In the morning, Carnegie overhears Solara repeating the prayer to her mother and realizes Eli has the book he has been seeking: a Bible.

Eli sneaks away, but Carnegie and his henchmen confront him in the street. When Eli refuses to give up the book, Carnegie orders him killed; the ensuing battle leaves Eli untouched, but many henchmen dead and Carnegie shot in the leg. Solara catches up to Eli and leads him to the town's water supply, hoping to accompany him, but he traps her inside and continues alone. Solara escapes and is ambushed by two bandits who attempt to rape her, but Eli reappears and kills them. Continuing toward the West Coast, Eli explains his mission: his is the last remaining copy of the Bible since all other copies were intentionally destroyed following the nuclear war. He says that he was led to the book by a voice in his head, directing him to travel westward to a place it would be safe, and assuring that he would be protected and guided on his journey.

At an isolated house, Eli and Solara fall into a trap but manage to allay the suspicions of the residents, George and Martha, who invite them in for tea. Realizing that George and Martha are cannibals, Eli and Solara attempt to leave just as Carnegie and his men arrive. In the ensuing shootout, George, Martha, and many of Carnegie's men are killed, and Eli and Solara are captured. Threatening to kill Solara, Carnegie forces Eli to surrender the Bible before shooting him and leaving him for dead, departing with his caravan. Solara escapes, destroying one truck with a hand grenade and driving back in another to find Eli. With his remaining vehicle low on fuel, Carnegie returns to town.

Solara finds Eli, and they drive until they reach the Golden Gate Bridge. They row to Alcatraz Island, where they find a group intent on preserving what remains of literature and music. Eli tells the guards that he has a copy of the Bible. Taken inside, Eli dictates the New King James Version of the Bible from memory to Lombardi, the sanctuary's leader.[7][6]

In the town, Carnegie discovers Eli's bible is in Braille, revealing Eli to be blind. Claudia, feigning ignorance of Braille, tells Carnegie that his leg wound has become infected and the loss of his enforcers has led the people to run amok. At the sanctuary, Eli has died, but not before reciting the entire book. A printing press begins producing copies of the Bible, and Lombardi places one on a bookshelf between the Hebrew Bible and the Quran. Offered sanctuary on Alcatraz, Solara chooses instead to return home, taking up Eli's machete and other possessions.



In May 2007, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures signed the Hughes brothers to direct The Book of Eli, based on a script by Gary Whitta.[8] Subsequently, Anthony Peckham rewrote the script, and in September 2008 Denzel Washington won the lead role.[9] The following October, Gary Oldman was cast to star alongside Washington.[10] Principal photography began in February 2009 and took place in New Mexico.[11] Alcon Entertainment financed the film and co-produced with Silver Pictures.[12]

Jeff Imada choreographed the complex fight scenes, which feature the Filipino martial art of Arnis. Washington trained for months with Dan Inosanto and Imada for his role.[13]


The Book of Eli was released in theaters on January 15, 2010, by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States; international sales were handled by Summit Entertainment,[14][15] with Sony Pictures Releasing International distributing in a large number of international territories.[16][17]

The film was released on home media (DVD and Blu-ray Disc) in the United States on June 15, 2010, by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.[18]


Box office

The film was released in North America on January 15, 2010, in 3,111 theaters. It took in $11,672,970—$3,752 per theater, its opening day.[19] By the end of its opening four-day holiday weekend it grossed $38,437,553—$12,355 per theater. It ranked number two, behind Avatar.[20] On its second weekend, it placed third with Legion taking its number two place and grossed $15,732,493—$5,057 per theater.[21] By its third weekend it dropped down to number five and made $8,908,286—$2,897 per theater.[22] The film has come to gross $94,835,059 in the United States and Canada, and $62,256,659 in other markets, with an estimated worldwide total of $157,091,718, over an estimated budget of $80 million.[23][16]

Critical reception

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 47% of 210 critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.50/10. The site's consensus is that "It's certainly uneven, and many viewers will find that its reach exceeds its grasp, but The Book of Eli finds the Hughes brothers injecting some fresh stylish fun into the kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland filmgoers have seen more than enough of lately."[24] Based on 33 critic reviews, Metacritic (another review aggregator) has assigned the film a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[25] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[26]

Todd McCarthy of Variety predicted "this will not be one of ... Denzel Washington's bigger grossers".[27] Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, stating: "You won't be sorry you went. It grips your attention, and then at the end throws in several WTF! moments, which are a bonus."[28]

Reviewing the film for The A.V. Club, Scott Tobias graded the film a B, and wrote "At a time when theaters are experiencing a glut of doomsday scenarios, the Hughes' ashen, bombed-out future world looks a little too familiar, no matter how crisply they present it. But the showdown between Washington and a deliciously hammy Oldman complicates the film's overt religiosity...".[29]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a D, calling it "a ponderous dystopian bummer that might be described as The Road Warrior [Mad Max 2] without car chases, or The Road without humanity.[30]

Home media

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on May 31, 2010, in the UK and on June 15, 2010, in the United States and Canada. The DVD took the top spot on all three national home video market charts in its first week. It premiered No. 1 on Home Media Magazine's Rental Chart, the Nielsen VideoScan Blu-ray chart, and the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert Sales Chart, where it outdistanced its nearest competitor in sales by a 3 to 1 margin.[31]


In January 2024, it was announced that a prequel television series was in development. Created/written/executive produced by Gary Whitta, the plot will be set decades before the film and once again center around the titular character. Starring John Boyega in the lead role, the star will also serve as an additional executive producer alongside Allen and Albert Hughes. The television show is in development from Alcon Television Entertainment, and is currently being shopped to various networks.[32]

See also


  1. ^ "The Book of Eli (15)". BBFC. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
  2. ^ "The Book of Eli -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. January 12, 2010. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  3. ^ "The Book of Eli". abc.net.au. April 30, 2010. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  4. ^ Goundry, Nick (February 1, 2010). "The Book of Eli shoots in New Mexico". The Location Guide. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  5. ^ Valls Oyarzun, Eduardo; Gualberto Valverde, Rebeca; Malla García, Noelia; Colom Jiménez, María; Cordero Sánchez, Rebeca, eds. (2020). "17". Avenging Nature: the Role of Nature in Modern and Contemporary Art and Literature. Ecocritical Theory and Practice. Lanham, Boulder, New York, London: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-1-7936-2144-3.
  6. ^ a b Giroux, Jack (January 18, 2010). "Interview, Part 1: Gary Whitta on 'The Book of Eli'". The Film Stage. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  7. ^ Bakhshian, Sara (January 2010). "'The Book of Eli': Interview with Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, and Gary Oldman". BeliefNet. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  8. ^ Fleming, Michael (May 21, 2007). "Hughes brothers set for 'Book of Eli'". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  9. ^ Fleming, Michael; McNary, Dave (September 4, 2008). "Denzel Washington picks up 'Book'". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  10. ^ Kit, Borys (October 29, 2008). "Gary Oldman joins 'Book of Eli'". Associated Press. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  11. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (February 2009). "Jack Black Rocks 'Yo Gabba Gabba' and More First Looks". Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner. Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
  12. ^ "Gary Oldman joins Denzel on 'Eli'". Reel Suave. October 30, 2008. Archived from the original on November 17, 2009.
  13. ^ "The Book of Eli – Behind the Scenes:Stunts". Yahoo! Movies. 2010. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010.
  14. ^ Goodridge, Mike (January 11, 2010). "The Book of Eli". Screen Daily. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  15. ^ "Summit picks up The Book of Eli". Screen Daily. October 23, 2008. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  16. ^ a b "The Book of Eli (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
  17. ^ Kay, Jeremy (November 13, 2008). "SPWAG confirms multi-territory acquisition of The Book of Eli". Screen Daily. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  18. ^ Gallagher, Brian (March 19, 2010). "The Book of Eli Opens Up on DVD and Blu-ray on June 15th". MovieWeb. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  19. ^ "Daily Box Office for Friday, January 15, 2010". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  20. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for January 15–18, 2010 (4-day weekend)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. January 18, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  21. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for January 22–24, 2010". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. January 24, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  22. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for January 29–31, 2010". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. January 31, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  23. ^ "Movie projector: 'Book of Eli' first major challenger to 'Avatar'". Los Angeles Times. January 14, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2010. Alcon spent $80 million to produce the movie, which stars Denzel Washington.
  24. ^ "The Book of Eli (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  25. ^ "The Book of Eli Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  26. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  27. ^ McCarthy, Todd (January 10, 2010). "The Book of Eli". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  28. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 13, 2010). "Strange, how post-apocalyptic doom can be grim and goofy". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group.
  29. ^ Tobias, Scott (January 14, 2010). "The Book of Eli". The AV Club. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  30. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (January 15, 2010). "The Book of Eli". Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner. Retrieved January 17, 2010.
  31. ^ "The Book of Eli Sweeps Video Charts". wowcelebrities.us. June 24, 2010. Archived from the original on September 2, 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  32. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 22, 2024). "'The Book Of Eli' Prequel Series Starring John Boyega From Film's Creative Team Hits Marketplace". Deadline. Retrieved January 24, 2024.

External links