The Darkest Minds
|The Darkest Minds|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jennifer Yuh Nelson|
|Screenplay by||Chad Hodge|
|Based on||The Darkest Minds|
by Alexandra Bracken
|Music by||Benjamin Wallfisch|
|Edited by||Maryann Brandon|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$41.1 million|
The Darkest Minds is a 2018 American science fiction thriller film directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, and written by Chad Hodge, based on Alexandra Bracken's young adult novel of the same name. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Mandy Moore, and Gwendoline Christie, and follows a group of teenagers who are on the run from the government after mysteriously obtaining superpowers. The film was released in the United States on August 3, 2018, by 20th Century Fox. It received negative reviews from critics and grossed $41.1 million worldwide against its $34 million production budget.
A sudden disease kills over 98% of the children throughout the world, leaving the survivors with unusual abilities. As a result, the governments of the world place the survivors in a "rehabilitation camp", where they attempt to cure the children of their disease, distinguishing them into classes based on their abilities.
Ruby Daly celebrates her tenth birthday with her family, where her father gives her a keychain. Seeing her parents' concern about the disease, Ruby goes to comfort her parents in the night, touching their hands, and inadvertently erasing all their memories with Ruby. In the morning, her mother locks Ruby in the garage; having no recollection of her, she sends Ruby to an internment camp, where Ruby is determined to be an Orange, the most dangerous class where they have the abilities to control other people's minds and memories. Ruby uses her abilities to convince her supervisor that she is a Green, the least dangerous one with extremely high intelligence.
Six years later, Ruby is found out to be an Orange following a test using a frequency that is only detectable by Oranges. Cate Begbie, a doctor whose real name is Cate Connor, reveals herself to be part of the Children's League, an organization that uses the survivors as soldiers, and helps Ruby in her escape from the camp. The two make their way to a gas station, where Cate provides Ruby with a pendant that can be activated into a tracker in the case she is in danger. Cate introduces her to an associate of the League; a suspicious Ruby makes her escape from the station with a quiet little girl named Suzume, a Gold who has the ability to control electricity. Suzume, shortened to Zu, introduces Ruby to her friends, Liam, a Blue who has telekinetic abilities, and Charles, known as Chubs, a Green, who agreed to let Ruby join them as they try to make their way to a safe haven, led by another Orange "Slip Kid".
The group heads to an abandoned mall to gather supplies, where they cross paths with another group of survivors, who give a clue about the haven's location, through the letters 'EDO'. Chubs deduces that they are actually numbers '540', which lead to a radio transmission, revealing the location of the haven. The group make their way there; along the way, Ruby and Liam begin to develop a romantic connection, but Ruby refuses to touch him, fearing that her powers will hurt him. At the haven, "Slip Kid" is revealed to be the president's son, Clancy, who teaches Ruby how to control her powers, and in turn, has Ruby teach him on how to erase people's memories. Clancy, who is revealed to have imprisoned his father and taken over the government, attempts to use this to rid Ruby of her negative thoughts and turn her to his side, but she manages to escape with the others. Liam flees with all of the camp members and Zu, while Ruby faces off against Clancy, ultimately exploding the camp and making her escape with Chubs, who is severely injured in the chaos. Liam reunites with Ruby and an unconscious Chubs in the woods, where Ruby uses her pendant to signal Cate for help.
Ruby and Liam are taken in by the League, while Chubs is taken to a hospital to recover and Zu is reunited with her cousin. Ruby convinces Cate to release Liam and have her take his place as a soldier. Knowing that Liam will never leave her, Ruby kisses him and erases all of his memories with her. Liam leaves the camp, while Ruby begins her training with her fellow League members as a weary Clancy raises an army of his own.
- Amandla Stenberg as Ruby Daly, a teenager with the ability to get into people's minds who escapes from her government camp and finds a group of runaways looking for East River.
- Lidya Jewett as Young Ruby
- Harris Dickinson as Liam Stewart, a kid with telekinesis in the group of runaways. Ruby's love interest.
- Skylan Brooks as Chubs, a kid with super intelligence in the group of runaways.
- Miya Cech as Suzume "Zu", a kid with electrokinesis in the group of runaways.
- Patrick Gibson as Clancy Gray, the president's son, who, like Ruby, has the power of getting into people’s minds.
- Mandy Moore as Dr. Cate Connor, a doctor and member of a group fighting against the government
- Gwendoline Christie as Lady Jane, a bounty hunter of superpowered teens who escape from the camp
- Golden Brooks as Molly Daly, Ruby's mother and Paul's wife
- Wallace Langham as Dr. Viceroy
- Mark O'Brien as Rob Meadows
- Bradley Whitford as President Gray, Clancy's father
On September 15, 2014, it was announced that 20th Century Fox had bought the film rights to Alexandra Bracken's young adult novel The Darkest Minds, the first book in her The Darkest Minds series. Shawn Levy would produce the film along with Dan Levine and Dan Cohen through his 21 Laps Entertainment, while the television writer Chad Hodge was hired to write the adaptation. On July 12, 2016, it was reported that animation director Jennifer Yuh Nelson had been hired to direct the film, and it would be her first live-action project.
On September 26, 2016, Amandla Stenberg joined the film to play the lead role of Ruby Daly, a 15-year-old girl who runs away from her government camp and joins a group of teens. On January 17, 2017, it was reported that newcomer Harris Dickinson had signed on to play Liam, who also develops superpowers surviving the disease. In February 2017, Miya Cech was cast in her debut film to play Zu, and Skylan Brooks was cast in the film to play Chubs. In March 2017, Mandy Moore was cast to play Cate, a doctor and member of an organization who is fighting against the government, and Patrick Gibson was cast to play Clancy Gray, the president's handsome son, whose posters are all over the camp for being “cured” of his powers. He also has the power of seeing into people's minds. Gwendoline Christie was also cast in the film to play a bounty hunter of teens who escape from the camp. In April 2017, Golden Brooks joined the film to play the mother of Daly.
The Darkest Minds has grossed $12.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $28.4 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $41.1 million, against a production budget of $34 million.
In the United States and Canada, The Darkest Minds was released on August 3, 2018, alongside Christopher Robin, The Spy Who Dumped Me and Death of a Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time?, and was originally projected to gross around $10 million from 3,127 theaters in its opening weekend. However after grossing $2.3 million on its first day, including $550,000 from Thursday night previews, weekend estimates were lowered to $6 million. It went on to debut $5.8 million, finishing eighth at the box office and marking the 11th worst opening for a film playing in over 3,000 theaters. It dropped 64% to $2.1 million in its second weekend, finishing 12th.
In its third weekend, the film grossed $255,173 and was pulled from 2,679 theaters (85.6%, 3,127 to 448), marking the largest third-weekend theater drop in history, beating Live by Night's record of 2,659.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 17% based on 117 reviews, with an average rating of 4.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Darkest Minds does little to differentiate itself in a crowded field of YA adaptations, leaving all but the least demanding viewers feeling dystopian déjà vu." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on reviews from 28 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
A.A. Dowd of The A.V. Club called the film "a formulaic hodgepodge of secondhand plot points" and "an insult to its target demographic" of teen moviegoers. William Bibbiani of TheWrap praised the film and the cast, but concedes "it's not quite thrilling enough [...] so it plays a bit more like a manifesto than a sci-fi thriller." Monica Castillo of RogerEbert.com wrote that while the film has a "promising start", it "ultimately doesn’t quite deliver."
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