The Mothman Prophecies (film)

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The Mothman Prophecies
Mothman prophecies poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark Pellington
Produced by Gary W. Goldstein
Gary Lucchesi
Tom Rosenberg
Screenplay by Richard Hatem
Based on The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel
Starring Richard Gere
Laura Linney
Will Patton
Debra Messing
Lucinda Jenney
Alan Bates
Music by tomandandy
Cinematography Fred Murphy
Edited by Brian Berdan
Distributed by Screen Gems
Release date
  • January 25, 2002 (2002-01-25)
Running time
119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $32 million[1]
Box office $55.1 million[1]

The Mothman Prophecies is a 2002 American supernatural horror mystery[2] film directed by Mark Pellington, based on the 1975 book of the same name by parapsychologist and Fortean author John Keel. The screenplay was written by Richard Hatem. The film stars Richard Gere as John Klein, a reporter who researches the legend of the Mothman.

The film claims to be based on actual events that occurred between November 1966 and December 1967 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.


Newspaper columnist John Klein (Richard Gere) and his wife Mary (Debra Messing) are involved in an accident when Mary swerves to avoid a black, flying figure. John survives the crash unscathed, but Mary is hospitalized. After Mary dies of an unrelated brain tumor, John discovers mysterious drawings of the creature that she had created prior to the night of the accident.

Two years later, John becomes lost in West Virginia and inexplicably finds himself in Point Pleasant, hundreds of miles off his route. Driving in the middle of the night, his car breaks down; and he walks to a nearby house to get help. The owner, Gordon Smallwood (Will Patton), reacts violently to John's appearance and holds him at gunpoint. Local police officer Connie Mills (Laura Linney) defuses the situation while Gordon explains that this is the third consecutive night John has knocked on his door asking to use a phone, much to John's confusion. John stays at a local motel and considers how he ended up so far from his original destination.

Officer Mills mentions to John that many strange things have been occurring in the past few weeks and that people report seeing a large winged creature like a giant moth with red eyes. She also tells John about a strange dream she had, in which the words "Wake up, Number 37" were spoken to her. While conversing with Gordon one day, it is revealed to John that he had heard voices from his sink telling him that, in Denver, "99 will die". While discussing the day's events at a local diner, John notices that the news is showing a story on an airplane crash in Denver that killed all 99 passengers aboard. The next night, Gordon frantically explains that he had met the voices in his head, a being named Indrid Cold.

Later that night, Gordon calls John and says that he is standing with someone named Indrid Cold. While John keeps Cold on the line, Officer Mills checks on Gordon. Cold answers John's questions, including ones he could not possibly know the answers to, convincing John that Cold is a supernatural being. This episode starts a string of supernatural calls to John's motel room. One tells him that there will be a great tragedy on the Ohio River. Later, John receives a call from Gordon and rushes to his home to check on him. He finds Gordon outside, dead from exposure.

John becomes obsessed with the being, dubbed Mothman. He meets an expert on the subject, Alexander Leek (Alan Bates), who explains its nature and discourages John from becoming further involved. However, when John learns the governor (Murphy Dunne) plans to tour a chemical plant located on the Ohio River the following day, he becomes convinced the tragedy will occur there. Officer Mills and the governor ignore his warnings, and nothing happens during the tour. Soon afterwards, John receives a mysterious message that instructs him to await a call from his deceased wife Mary back in Georgetown, and he returns home.

On Christmas Eve, Officer Mills calls and convinces him to ignore the phone call from "Mary", return to Point Pleasant, and join her. Though anguished, John agrees. As John reaches the Silver Bridge, a malfunctioning traffic light causes traffic congestion. As John walks onto the bridge to investigate, the bolts and supports of the bridge strain. The bridge comes apart, and John realizes that the prophesied tragedy on the Ohio River was about the bridge. As the bridge collapses, Officer Mills's car falls into the water. John jumps in after her and pulls her from the river and up to safety. As the two sit on the back of an ambulance, they see that 36 people have been killed, making Connie the "number 37" from her dream. The epilogue displays a series of graphics that state the cause of the bridge collapse was never fully determined. It also states that, although the Mothman has been sighted in other parts of the world, it was never seen again in Point Pleasant.


Lead actor Richard Gere who portrayed the protagonist John Klein.


Carl Franklin was originally attached to direct Richard Hatem's spec script before Mark Pellington was hired.[3]


Kittanning Citizens Bridge

Aside from a few opening scenes filmed in Washington, D.C., most of motion picture was filmed in the areas of Pittsburgh and Kittanning in Pennsylvania. The scenes of Gere sitting on a park bench are on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Road montages were filmed on Pennsylvania Route 28, and the Chicago scenes are completely shot in downtown Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square and Trinity Churchyard environs as well as the entrance to the Duquesne Club. The "Chemical Plant" featured in the movie is actually a power station owned by Reliant Energy in Elrama, Pennsylvania. The Avalon Motor Inn is in Eighty Four, PA, south of Pittsburgh. Point Pleasant scenes were shot in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. The collapse of the Silver Bridge was actually filmed at the Kittanning Citizens Bridge in downtown Kittanning. Scenes shot at Gordon Smallwood’s house were filmed in Washington County on Pennsylvania Route 917. Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County Airport serves as backdrop for the airfield scenes. Despite this relocation, several police officers from Point Pleasant appeared as extras.[4] In reality, 46 people died in the collapse of the Silver Bridge, not 36 as depicted in the film. The motion picture's claim at the end credits of the collapse of the Silver Bridge never being explained is false; the incident was found to be caused by the failure of an eye-bar in a suspension chain in 1971, well before the publication of the book on which the film is based, let alone the film.[5][6]


The film's musical score was composed by the creative lab tomandandy. On January 22, 2002. Lakeshore Records released a two-disc edition of the soundtrack.[7]

The Mothman Prophecies: Music From the Motion Picture Disc 1
Film score by Various Artists
Released January 22, 2002
Length 44:05
Label Lakeshore Records
The Mothman Prophecies: Music From the Motion Picture Disc 1
No. Title Length
1. "Half Light (single)" 4:23
2. "Wake Up #37" 5:37
3. "Haunted" 5:03
4. "One and Only" 1:59
5. "Collage" 1:05
6. "Great Spaces" 5:19
7. "Rolling Under" 5:26
8. "Half Life" 4:13
9. "Soul Systems Burn" 5:35
10. "Half Light (tail credit)" 6:46
Total length: 44:05
The Mothman Prophecies: Music From the Motion Picture Disc 2
Film score by tomandandy
Released January 22, 2002
Length 58:03
Label Lakeshore Records
The Mothman Prophecies: Music From the Motion Picture Disc 2
No. Title Length
1. "Movement 1: Composed of 12 Members/ Retrace/ A New Home/ MRI/ Welcome To Point Pleasant" 8:05
2. "Movement 2: Point Pleasant/ Seeing Strange Things/ It's a Voice and It's Saying, Do Not Be Afraid/ He's Wrong/ Denver 9" 7:32
3. "Movement 3: I Had a Dream Like That/ Not From Human Vocal Chords/ Zone Of Fear/ Ring Ring/ Leek/ Leek Wouldn't See Me" 9:53
4. "Movement 4: All At Once, I Understand, Everything/ Do You Know That Woman?/ The Tape Reveals/ We Are Not Allowed To Know" 7:36
5. "Movement 5: It's How I Ended Up Here/ Airport/ I Have To Go" 4:25
6. "Movement 6: We Have Dinner At 6, And We Open Presents At 8/ 12:00 Call" 3:51
7. "Movement 7: The Bridge" 8:21
8. "Movement 8: Mirror Drone/ John's Theme/ Cellos" 9:40
Total length: 58:03


Home media[edit]

Following its release in theaters, the Region 1 widescreen Pan and scan edition of the motion picture was released on DVD in the United States on June 4, 2002. Special features included, Director Mark Pellington's commentary; "Search for the Mothman" documentary; "Day by Day: A Director's Journey - The Road In" featurette; "Halflight" music video; 5 deleted scenes; and theatrical trailers.[8] A Special Edition widescreen format of the film was released on May 27, 2003. Special features included, Digitally mastered audio & anamorphic video; Widescreen and full-screen presentations; Audio: English and French 5.1 (Dolby Digital); Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; DVD exclusive: "Half Light" music video directed by Mark Pellington; Theatrical trailer; Production notes; Interactive menus; and Scene selections.[9]

In supplemental fashion, a VHS format version of the film was released on October 1, 2002.[10] An additional viewing option for the film in the media format of Video on demand has been made available as well.[11]


Critical response[edit]

Among mainstream critics in the U.S., the film received mixed reviews.[12] Rotten Tomatoes reported that 53% of 137 sampled critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 5.5 out of 10.[13] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average out of 100 to critics' reviews, The Mothman Prophecies received a score of 52 based on 32 reviews.[12] In 2003, the film won the Best Sound Editing: Music in a Feature Film award from the society of the Motion Picture Sound Editors.[14]

Noted critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it two stars out of four, calling it "unfocused" and "meandering," but praised the direction by Mark Pellington "whose command of camera, pacing and the overall effect is so good, it deserves a better screenplay."[15]

Box office[edit]

The Mothman Prophecies opened at the U.S. box office on January 25, 2002, earning $11,208,851 in its first weekend failing to enter the top five grossing films.[16] It eventually went on to garner $35,746,370 in the U.S., and $19,411,169 in foreign markets for a worldwide total of $55,157,539.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Mothman Prophecies (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Petrikin, Chris (May 5, 1999). "Fox puts Armitage in Doud's 'Body'". Variety. Retrieved July 25, 2015. 
  4. ^ Spiderweb 2000 Solutions. "Point Pleasant Register - Mothman". Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  5. ^ "Claims In Disaster Denied". The Portsmouth Times. 28 May 1976. p. 12. 
  6. ^ "The Collapse of the Silver Bridge-by Chris LeRose". Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  7. ^ "The Mothman Prophecies Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  8. ^ "The Mothman Prophecies (2002) - DVD Widescreen". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  9. ^ "The Mothman Prophecies". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  10. ^ "The Mothman Prophecies [VHS] (2002)". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  11. ^ "The Mothman Prophecies VOD Format". Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  12. ^ a b The Mothman Prophecies. Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  13. ^ The Mothman Prophecies (2002). Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  14. ^ "Past Golden Reel Awards". Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  15. ^ "The Mothman Prophecies". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  16. ^ "January 25-27, 2002 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Barker, Gray (2008). The Silver Bridge: The Classic Mothman Tale. BookSurge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-439-20427-6. 
  • Kay, Gregory (2013). Wings In Darkness. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1-481-81142-2. 
  • Guiley, Rosemary (2012). Monsters of West Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Mountain State. Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-811-71028-2. 
  • Coleman, Loren (2002). Mothman and Other Curious Encounters. Paraview Press. ISBN 978-1-931-04434-9. 

External links[edit]