The Darkest Minds

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The Darkest Minds
The Darkest Minds poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJennifer Yuh Nelson
Written byChad Hodge
Based onThe Darkest Minds
by Alexandra Bracken
Produced by
CinematographyKramer Morgenthau
Edited by
Music byBenjamin Wallfisch
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • August 3, 2018 (2018-08-03)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$34 million[2]
Box office$41.1 million[2]

The Darkest Minds is a 2018 American dystopian science fiction film directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and written by Chad Hodge. Based on Alexandra Bracken's 2012 young adult novel of the same name, it was produced by Shawn Levy and Dan Levine. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Mandy Moore and Gwendoline Christie. It follows a group of young children and teenagers who are on the run from the government after mysteriously obtaining superpowers.

On September 15, 2014, it was announced that 20th Century Fox had bought the rights to the novel and that Levy would produce the film through his 21 Laps Entertainment. Stenberg was cast two years later on September 26, 2016 and principal photography began in April 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Darkest Minds was released in the United States on August 3, 2018, by 20th Century Fox. It received negative reviews from critics, with criticisms towards its acting, direction, screenplay, and "lack of personality." The film was also a box-office bomb, having grossed just $41.1 million worldwide against a $34 million budget.[3]


In a dystopian future, a contagious disease called Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN) kills nearly 90 percent of all children and teenagers living in the United States, leaving the survivors with unusual abilities. These survivors with superpowers are imprisoned throughout the country. The children are divided into groups: Green (have increased intelligence), Blue (telekinesis), Yellow (can manipulate electricity), Red (can control fire), and Orange (have telepathy and mind control capabilities). Ruby Daly is an Orange, which means she has the psionic ability to get into people's mind. Children that are Red and Orange are considered too dangerous with their powers and supposed to be killed instantly, but she touches the doctor who is classifying her and puts the thought in his head that she is a Green.

Six years later, Ruby is helped to escape her prison by a resistance group known as the Children's League to fight for her future. Cate, a worker at the camp, provides Ruby with a panic button that can be activated as a tracker if she is in danger. When Ruby gets visions while touching Rob, another League member, she becomes suspicious of their intentions. Ruby makes her escape with a mute little girl named Suzume (Zu), a Yellow. Zu takes Ruby to Liam, a Blue, and his friend Charles (Chubs), a Green. The three agree to let Ruby join them as they try to make their way to "East River," a purported safe haven led by an Orange named the "Slip Kid."

The four enter an abandoned mall to gather supplies, where they cross paths with another group of survivors. The others know where East River is, but the only clue they reveal — due to the subtle influence of Ruby's power — are the letters "E.D.O.". Ruby eventually deduces that this is a radio frequency, which reveals a transmission that East River is in Lake Prince, Virginia.

Journeying to East River, Ruby asks the group to drop her off at her former home in Salem, Virginia hoping she can reconcile with her parents. Seeing them through the glass door, she realizes she made them forget her and runs away. She meets up with Liam, who comforts her and they begin to develop a romantic connection, but Ruby refuses to touch him, fearing that her powers will hurt him. At East River, Slip Kid is revealed to be the president's son, Clancy Gray, who is an Orange. He teaches Ruby how to control her powers, and in return, has Ruby teach him how to erase people's memories. During this process, Clancy controls her mind and tries to kiss her.

It is revealed that Clancy is using his powers to control the government, and wants to use his new memory-erasing powers to turn Ruby to his side and forget her friends, but she manages to escape with the others. Liam flees with all of the haven children, while Ruby faces off against Clancy, destroying the camp and making her escape with Chubs. Chubs is severely injured, leaving Ruby no choice but to use her panic button to call the League for help.

The League gets Chubs to a hospital and lets Zu leave with a protective family. Ruby convinces Cate to release Liam in return for taking his place as a soldier in the League. Knowing that Liam will never leave without her, Ruby kisses him and erases all of his memories of herself. Liam leaves the camp, while Ruby begins her training with her fellow powered children in the League. Elsewhere, Clancy looks over the US Army and government forces.



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.[4] 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.[5]


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.[6] On January 17, 2017, it was reported that newcomer Harris Dickinson had signed on to play Liam, who also develops superpowers surviving the disease.[7] In February 2017, Miya Cech was cast as Zu in her film debut, and Skylan Brooks was cast as Chubs.[8][9] 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 as Clancy Gray, the president's son, whose posters are all over the camp for being “cured” of his powers. He also has the power of telepathy.[10][11] Gwendoline Christie was also cast in the film to play a bounty hunter of teens who escape from the camp.[12] In April 2017, Golden Brooks joined the film to play Ruby’s mother.[13]


Principal photography on the film began in April 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.[14][15][16]


Benjamin Wallfisch composed the score for the film. The soundtrack was released by Milan Records.


Box office[edit]

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.[2]

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.[17] 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 12th worst opening for a film playing in over 3,000 theaters.[18] It dropped 64% to $2.1 million in its second weekend, finishing 12th.[19]

In its third weekend, the film grossed $255,173 and was pulled from 2,679 theaters (85.6 percent, 3,127 to 448), marking the largest third-weekend theater drop in history.[20]

Critical response[edit]

The film received negative reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 15% based on 140 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."[21] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on reviews from 28 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[22] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[18]

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.[23] 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."[24] Monica Castillo of wrote that while the film has a "promising start", it "ultimately doesn’t quite deliver."[25]

Potential sequel[edit]

The Darkest Minds is based on the first of four novels, three novellas and three short stories in The Darkest Minds series, and the film's ending sets the stage for future action. Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson has stated that she would be happy to return for a second film in the series, although no definitive plans have been announced. Reports indicate sequels are unlikely given the poor box office performance of the film.[26][27]


  1. ^ "The Darkest Minds (2018)- Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "The Darkest Minds (2018)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  3. ^ "2018's Biggest Box Office Bombs, From 'Gotti' to 'Solo'". The Wrap. 12 December 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  4. ^ Kit, Borys (September 15, 2014). "'Wayward Pines' Creator Tapped to Adapt 'Darkest Minds' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Valence Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  5. ^ Kit, Borys (July 12, 2016). "'Kung Fu Panda' Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson to Make Live-Action Debut With 'Darkest Minds'". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Valence Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (September 26, 2016). "Amandla Stenberg to Star in Fox's YA Adaptation of 'Darkest Minds' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Valence Media. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Patten, Dominic (January 17, 2017). "Harris Dickinson To Star In Fox's YA Adaptation Of 'Darkest Minds'". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  8. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (February 1, 2017). "Miya Cech Joins Fox's 'The Darkest Minds'; Noah Centineo Cast In 'Sierra Burgess Is A Loser'". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  9. ^ Rought, Karen (February 19, 2017). "'The Darkest Minds' movie adaptation has found its Chubs". Hypable. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (March 7, 2017). "Mandy Moore Joins Amandla Stenberg in Dystopian Thriller 'Darkest Minds'". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (March 13, 2017). "'The OA' Star Patrick Gibson Heads To Fox's 'The Darkest Minds'". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Kit, Borys (March 22, 2017). "Gwendoline Christie Joins Sci-Fi Thriller 'Darkest Minds' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  13. ^ McNary, Dave (April 4, 2017). "Golden Brooks Joins Amandla Stenberg's Dystopian Thriller 'Darkest Minds' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  14. ^ Walljasper, Matt (April 26, 2017). "What's filming in Atlanta now? Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Last Full Measure, Darkest Minds, plus how a looming WGA strike could threaten Georgia". Atlanta. Atlanta, Georgia: Hour Media Group. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  15. ^ "What's Filming in Atlanta Now?". On Location Vacations. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  16. ^ "Casting Call for Kids and Adults in ATL for "The Darkest Minds" Sc-Fi Movie". Auditions Free. April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  17. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (August 1, 2018). "Box Office: Can Disney's 'Christopher Robin' Top 'Mission: Impossible – Fallout'?". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Business Media. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  18. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 4, 2018). "'Tom Cruise's $34M 'Mission' Takes Out 'Christopher Robin' — Saturday AM". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  19. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 12, 2018). "'August Audiences Get Hooked On 'Meg' Shelling Out $44.5M". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  20. ^ "Biggest Theater Drops". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  21. ^ "The Darkest Minds (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  22. ^ "The Darkest Minds Reviews". Metacritic. New York City: CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  23. ^ Dowd, A.A. (August 3, 2018). "Angsty teens deserve better than the bootleg-X-Men melodrama of The Darkest Minds". The A.V. Club. Chicago, Illinois: G/O Media. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Bibbiani, William (July 30, 2018). "'The Darkest Minds' Film Review: YA Tale Delivers Its Allegories With Crisp Efficiency". TheWrap. Los Angeles, California: TheWrap News, Inc. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  25. ^ Castillo, Monica (August 3, 2018). "The Darkest Minds". Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  26. ^ Wakeman, Gregory (August 14, 2018). "Will there be a 'Darkest Minds 2'? Here's what we know". Metro. New York City: SB New York. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  27. ^ LaSalle, Mick (August 2, 2018). "'Darkest Minds' — don't wait for the sequel". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco, California: Hearst Corporation. Retrieved April 15, 2019.

External links[edit]