The First Purge

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The First Purge
The First Purge poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGerard McMurray
Produced by
Written byJames DeMonaco
Music byKevin Lax
CinematographyAnastas Michos
Edited byJim Page
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • July 4, 2018 (2018-07-04) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$13 million[2]
Box office$137.1 million[2]

The First Purge is a 2018 American dystopian action horror film directed by Gerard McMurray and starring Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, and Steve Harris. Written and co-produced by James DeMonaco, it marks the first film of the series not to be directed by him.

It is the fourth installment in the Purge franchise, the film is a prequel depicting the origins of the annual "Purge", a 12-hour span once a year in which all crime in America, including murder, rape and arson, is legal; it originates as an experiment confined to Staten Island with the promise that those who stay on the island for its duration will be paid a large sum of money, but the New Founding Fathers are determined to get the results they want by any means necessary.

The First Purge was released on July 4, 2018, by Universal Pictures. It has grossed over $137 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing entry in the franchise, but received mixed reviews from critics like its predecessors.


A crazed drug addict named Skeletor discusses his dark thoughts, including his desire to "purge" and unleash his hatred on other people. An NFFA employee tells Skeletor that he can very soon.

In an alternate 2014, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) are now the most powerful party in the United States. In 2017, NFFA chief of staff Arlo Sabian and sociologist Dr. May Updale announce an experiment to take place on Staten Island where for 12 hours, citizens will be allowed to purge and release their inhibitions in any way they choose, including murder. The NFFA offers residents $5,000 to stay during the experiment, with additional compensation if they join the purge and survive. They also outfit the participants with contact lens cameras so that they can monitor all activity and put tracking devices in them so they will know if they try to leave the island.

Drug lord Dmitri tells his dealers that they will not be leaving the island as it will draw too much attention, moving his large amounts of money and product. Dmitri says to his soldiers that they will stay in a safe house and lay low. Dealer Capital A decides to defy this order and go out and purge, while newbie dealer Isaiah is attacked and cut by Skeletor. Isaiah goes to his sister Nya, an anti-Purge activist and Dimitri's ex-girlfriend, for treatment.

As people flee Staten Island, Nya joins her friends Dolores, Luisa, and Selina in a church to wait out the Purge. Dmitri has stayed behind because Capital A has sent Anna and Elsa, two prostitutes, to his office. Skeletor commits the first-ever Purge murder, and the video recorded by the NFFA goes viral. The NFFA also observe that more parties than killings are taking place and that crimes are mostly just looting and vandalism, as opposed to the expected murder.

Isaiah secretly joins the Purge to get his revenge on Skeletor. He eventually confronts him during the Purge but cannot shoot him. Isaiah runs off and into more purgers, before hiding and calling Nya for help. Anna and Elsa are revealed to be Purgers who attempt to kill Dmitri, but Dmitri fights them off and learns that Capital A had sent them in an attempt to take over Dmitri's business. Skeletor captures Nya in the streets and attempts to rape her, but Isaiah wounds him and they escape.

Capital A and his crew go to Dmitri's office to thank Anna and Elsa, but Dmitri and his gang kill them all.

Nya and Isaiah return to the church to see blood-soaked white supremacist bikers leaving it. Although Luisa and Selina survived, Dolores' fate is unknown. They all return to Nya's apartment where Dolores has managed to make it safely.

Meanwhile, at the NFFA headquarters, Updale becomes suspicious of a sudden increase in murder, along with the presence of masked participants. She reviews the video footage of the Purge and notices vans full of masked killers arriving. Much to her horror, she finds out that the said masked killers are trained mercenary groups killing multiple civilians. Sabian explains that he sent the mercenaries to make the experiment look successful, and eventually to help balance the wealth disequilibrium amongst the rich and the poor. Updale protests this tampering, realizing that the NFFA only wants to eradicate the poor to save the expense of social programs. Knowing that his corruption has been exposed, Sabian has Updale taken away and killed, and erases all footage of the event.

Dmitri and his gang escape through the streets, until unknown assailants attack them. Dmitri kills them all and discovers they are mercenaries. Realizing they were sent by the NFFA, who had also dumped weapons into the neighborhood to provoke participation, Dmitri and his crew decide to take a stand against them and protect the neighborhood.

After saving local shop owner and friend Freddy and his associates, they go to Nya's apartment building to try and save her and her friends, but NFFA drones shoot and kill most of Dmitri's gang. Dmitri calls Nya and warns her of the mercenaries' invasion, but he is coming to help her. Dmitri successfully kills a number of mercenaries and helped Nya's group to hide in a safe space. The mercenaries are about to shoot a rocket-propelled grenade into the apartments when a deranged Skeletor arrives and kills some mercenaries before he himself is killed. Dmitri grabs a piece of plastic explosive, throws it and shoots it repeatedly until it explodes, killing the remaining mercenaries. As sirens sound the end of the Purge, a wounded Dmitri is hailed as a hero, and he states that the survivors must somehow fight back.

During the end credits, Sabian reads a statement calling this experimental Purge a success, and that a nationwide Purge may begin as soon as the following year. A mid-credits scene leads into the events of the other films, and directly ties into The Purge television series.[3]



The First Purge was released on July 4, 2018, by Universal Pictures. It has grossed over $137 million worldwide, becoming the highest grossing entry in the franchise, but received mixed reviews from critics like its predecessors.

Home media[edit]

The First Purge was released on Digital HD on September 18 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD was released on October 2.[7]



In September 2016, James DeMonaco, the creator of the franchise, said that the fourth film, a follow-up to 2016's The Purge: Election Year, would be a prequel to the trilogy, showing how the United States came to the point of accepting the Purge Night.[8]

On February 17, 2017, DeMonaco announced that the fourth installment in The Purge franchise was in development at Universal Studios. DeMonaco did not return as director, but wrote the script and produced the film, with Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller of Platinum Dunes, and Sébastien K. Lemercier.[9]

In July 2017, Gerard McMurray, the director of Sundance film Burning Sands, was hired to direct the film from the script by DeMonaco.[10]


On September 19, 2017, newcomers Y'lan Noel and Lex Scott Davis were cast in the film as the lead characters, and the setting was announced as Staten Island.[4]


Principal photography began in mid-September 2017 in Buffalo, New York. Filming wrapped on November 8, 2017.[11][12]


Kevin Lax composed the score for the film, replacing Nathan Whitehead. Back Lot Music released the soundtrack.


Box office[edit]

The First Purge has grossed $69.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $67.5 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $137 million, against a production budget of $13 million.[2]

In the United States and Canada, The First Purge was released on July 4, 2018, and was projected to gross around $25–36 million from 3,031 theaters over its five-day opening weekend.[13][14] The film made $9.3 million on its first day, including $2.5 million from Tuesday night previews at 2,350 theaters, and $4.6 million on its second.[15] It went on to open to $17.2 million (and a five-day total of $31.1 million), finishing fourth at the box office.[16]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 55% based on 166 reviews, with an average rating of 5.46/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The First Purge should satisfy fans of the franchise and filmgoers in the mood for violent vicarious thrills, even if its subtextual reach exceeds its grasp."[17] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE FIRST PURGE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 19, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "The First Purge (2018)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  3. ^ "Does The First Purge Have An End-Credits Scene?". 4 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Sneider, Jeff (September 19, 2017). ""The Purge" Prequel Sets Two Leads, Including "Insecure" Star Y'lan Noel (Exclusive)". The Tracking Board. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Chitwood, Adam (October 20, 2017). "Check Out Synopses for 2018 Universal Films 'Jurassic World 2', 'The Purge 4', and More". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  6. ^ Trumbore, Dave (January 31, 2018). "'The First Purge': First Trailer for the Prequel Stirs Up American Pride". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  7. ^ "'The First Purge' Goes Digital in September". Slanted. 2018-08-07. Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  8. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (September 29, 2016). "This Is What The Purge 4 Will Be About". Cinemablend. GatewayBlend Entertainment. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  9. ^ Kit, Borys (February 17, 2017). "New 'Purge' Movie Gets Summer 2018 Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  10. ^ Kit, Borys (July 20, 2017). "'Purge 4' Finds Director in Sundance Filmmaker". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  11. ^ Perlman, Marissa (September 25, 2017). "Major motion picture franchise: 'The Purge' set to be shot in Western New York". WIVB. Nexstar Broadcasting. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  12. ^ Axelson, Ben (September 26, 2017). "'The Purge 4' just started filming in Buffalo: Who's starring, what's it about?". Advance Local Media. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  13. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 14, 2018). "'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Tracking for $75M Box-Office Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony; Tartaglione, Nancy (July 3, 2018). "'Ant-Man And The Wasp' Bound To Swell To $155M+ Worldwide Start, But Could Grow Bigger". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  15. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 5, 2018). "'The First Purge' Slays $9.4M As Dinos Run Toward $300M – Independence Day Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  16. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 8, 2018). "'Ant-Man And The Wasp' Shrinks A Tick To $76M+ Opening, But Still 34% Bigger Than Original – Early Sunday Read". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  17. ^ "The First Purge (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  18. ^ "The First Purge Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 5, 2018.

External links[edit]