The Spiderwick Chronicles (film)

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The Spiderwick Chronicles
Spiderwick chronicles poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMark Waters
Screenplay byKarey Kirkpatrick
David Berenbaum
John Sayles
Based onThe Spiderwick Chronicles
by Tony DiTerlizzi and
Holly Black
Produced byMark Canton
Larry Franco
Ellen Goldsmith-Vein
Karey Kirkpatrick
CinematographyCaleb Deschanel
Edited byMichael Kahn
Music byJames Horner
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • January 31, 2008 (2008-01-31) (Hollywood)
  • February 14, 2008 (2008-02-14) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$90 million[2]
Box office$164.2 million[2]

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a 2008 American live-action/computer animated fantasy adventure film based on the book series of the same name by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. It was directed by Mark Waters and stars Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger and Mary-Louise Parker, with Martin Short, Nick Nolte, Ron Perlman and Seth Rogen in voice roles. The film, set in the Spiderwick Estate in New England, follows three children who discover a field guide to fairies while encountering various magical creatures such as goblins, ogres, brownies, boggarts, hobgoblins, trolls and many others.

Produced by Nickelodeon Movies and distributed by Paramount Pictures, it was released on February 14, 2008, earning $162.8 million against its $90 million budget. The Spiderwick Chronicles received generally positive reviews from critics, with Highmore's dual performance being singled out for praise. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 24, 2008, in the United States.[3]


In 1928, Arthur Spiderwick writes a field guide about the many fairies he has encountered. After finishing the Book, he hides it away for fear of Mulgarath, a shapeshifting ogre who plans to use the Book's secrets for evil.

Eighty years later, recently divorced Helen Grace inherits and moves into the abandoned Spiderwick estate with her children, daughter Mallory and twin sons Jared and Simon. Jared is angry about the move and would rather live with his father. After uncovering a hidden dumbwaiter, Jared discovers Arthur's study where he finds the Field Guide. When Jared explains his discovery of the Book and the existence of magical creatures, his family doesn't believe him.

The next morning, Jared meets a brownie named Thimbletack, who is initially angry with Jared for having opened the book that Thimbletack was supposed to be protecting from the shape-shifting ogre Mulgarath. Jared placates him with crackers and honey, and Thimbletack gives Jared a holed stone that allows Jared to see the normally invisible faeries by looking through it. Thimbletack tells him about the protective mushroom circle surrounding the house.

Jared witnesses Simon's abduction by goblins, led by Redcap. Simon is taken to the goblins' campsite where he is confronted by Mulgarath who is disguised as an old man. Jared sneaks into the campsite where he meets Hogsqueal, a hobgoblin, who gives Jared the ability to see faeries without the stone by spitting in his eyes so that he can help him get revenge on Mulgarath for killing his family. Mulgarath releases Simon so he can fetch the Book for him. Jared finds Simon and both fight over the book before they are chased by the goblins. The twins flee back to the house, and Mallory fights them off with her fencing sabre.

The children decide to visit Arthur's daughter, their great-aunt Lucinda Spiderwick, for advice. While Simon distracts the goblins, Mallory and Jared escape through an underground tunnel. Chased by a troll sent by Redcap, they narrowly escape when it is struck and killed by an oncoming truck. Jared and Mallory meet the elderly Lucinda in the psychiatric hospital where she lives, surrounded by sprites. She tells the children that they need to find her father and have him destroy the book and that, for eighty years, Arthur has been held captive by the sylphs. At that moment, Redcap and his goblins attack them through the window and manage to tear off several pages from the book before being driven off. Among the stolen pages, Mulgarath is pleased to find information on how to break the protective circle.

While Helen is driving home, she and Jared argue over her disbelief; Jared angrily tells Helen that he hates her and doesn't want to live with her anymore. Later, Hogsqueal, having overheard Mulgarath's plan, informs the children. Jared, Simon, and Mallory use the book to summon a griffin, which takes them to the sylphs' realm. There, they meet Arthur, who has not aged and is unaware of the time he has spent there. Jared asks him to destroy the book only to find out that Thimbletack had switched the pages and kept the real Book. Arthur is relieved until Jared tells him that Mulgarath knows how to break the protective circle. Arthur informs Jared that the sylphs won't allow them to leave as they, like him, know too much about the faeries. Arthur helps them escape by distracting the sylphs with the fake book.

At home, the children finally convince Helen of the truth. Meanwhile, the goblins finish spreading their potion, which successfully breaks the circle as the full moon rises. The family defend themselves with kitchen knives and tomato sauce/salt bombs (ingredients deadly to goblins), and manage to kill the goblins in an explosion of tomato sauce. Suddenly, the children's father, Richard, appears; however, Jared stabs him, revealing him to be Mulgarath in disguise. Mulgarath pursues Jared and the Book throughout the house before cornering him on the roof. Jared tosses the Book and Mulgarath transforms into a raven to catch it, but he is suddenly grabbed and eaten by Hogsqueal. Afterwards, Jared and his mother reconcile.

Several weeks later, the family brings Lucinda to visit the house. The sylphs arrive with Arthur, allowing him to briefly visit now that the Book is safe. However, Arthur cannot stay long as he will turn to dust if he remains. Lucinda asks to go with him and is transformed back into a child. The Grace family watch as the sylphs spirit Arthur and Lucinda away.


  • Freddie Highmore as the Grace twins
    • Jared Grace: the angry one and is the most reluctant about moving from New York.
    • Simon Grace: Jared's identical twin brother and a pacifistic animal lover.
  • Sarah Bolger as Mallory Grace: Jared and Simon's older sister.
  • Mary-Louise Parker as Helen Grace: the children's overprotective mother.
  • Andrew McCarthy as Richard Grace: Jared, Simon, and Mallory's divorced and neglectful father.
    • McCarthy also portrays Mulgarath's disguise of Richard.
  • Joan Plowright as Lucinda Spiderwick, the daughter of Arthur Spiderwick and of Constance Spiderwick.
    • Jordy Benattar as Young Lucinda Spiderwick
  • David Strathairn as Arthur Spiderwick, the author of the guide and owner of the mansion.
  • Lise Durocher-Viens as Constance Spiderwick, the wife of Arthur spiderwick and mother of Lucinda Spiderwick
  • Tod Fennell as Helen's co-worker
  • Mariah Inger as Nurse

Voice cast

  • Nick Nolte as Mulgarath, an evil shapeshifting ogre and the leader of the goblins.
    • Nolte also portrays Mulgarath in his human form.
  • Ron Perlman (uncredited) as Redcap, a vicious and grouchy goblin general and Mulgarath's second-in-command.
  • Seth Rogen as Hogsqueal, an unintelligent bird-eating hobgoblin who seeks revenge against Mulgarath for killing his family.
  • Martin Short as Thimbletack, a loyal house brownie who shapeshifts into an aggressive boggart when he becomes angry.



A blue screen set used during filming.

In an interview, Sarah Bolger said that filming took 4–5 months. She said that she "was [in front of] the blue screen like 24 hours a day", and for the most part, she was "kicking and slicing and chopping things that were nowhere near". Since Bolger had many fencing scenes, she had five weeks of intense training, and three hours with the Canadian Olympic fencing coach nearly every day.[4]


  • London Bridge Is Falling Down - Performed by Jordy Benattar
  • Writing the Chronicles
  • So Many New Worlds Revealed
  • Thimbletack and the Goblins
  • Hogsqueal's Warning of a Bargain with Mulgarath
  • Discovering Spiderwick's Secret Workshop
  • Dark Armies from the Forest Attack
  • Burning the Book
  • A Desperate Run Through the Tunnels
  • Lucinda's Story
  • The Flight of the Griffin
  • Escape from the Glade
  • The Protective Circle Is Broken....!
  • Jared and Mulgarath Fight for the Chronicles
  • Coming Home
  • Closing Credits


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 81% based on 149 reviews, with an average rating of 6.70/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "The Spiderwick Chronicles is an entertaining children's adventure, with heart and imagination to spare."[5] On Metacritic the film has an average score of 62 out of 100, based on 30 reviews.[6] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A-" on scale of A to F.[7] [8]

Critics called it "decent entertainment,"[9] "a work of both modest enchantment and enchanting modesty,"[10] and "modest and reasonably charming."[11] It was criticized for its reliance on special effects; A. O. Scott of The New York Times said that the movie "feels more like a sloppy, secondhand pander" and called it "frantic with incident and hectic with computer-generated effects,"[12] and another said that "the sense of wonder and magic is lost in the shuffle."[13] Despite some negative reviews for the film overall, Highmore was generally praised for his dual role as the twins Simon and Jared. One critic said that he "skillfully portrays two distinctive personas,"[14] another said he "[had] no trouble grasping the task at hand,"[15] and a third remarked that, "the most special effect is probably Highmore".[16]

The film was nominated by the Visual Effects Society in the category of "Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture" but it lost to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, another film from Paramount Pictures.[17]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed an estimated $19 million in 3,847 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #2 behind Jumper at the box office.[2] With the opening day's gross on Thursday included, the film grossed an estimated $24.3 million on its opening weekend.[18] This film has grossed $162.8 million worldwide.[19]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 24, 2008 in the United States.[3] It was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 12, 2017 in the United States.

Video game[edit]

Vivendi Games, under their Sierra Entertainment label enlisted Stormfront Studios to develop and produce a video game adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles, following the general storyline of the books and film.[20] It was released, shortly before the film's opening, on February 5, 2008 for Nintendo DS, Wii, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 2, and rated Everyone (E10+) by the ESRB.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. December 18, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 17, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Breaking: Paramount Unveils Blu-ray Launch Plans | High-Def Digest".
  4. ^ Sarah Bolger Interview, The Spiderwick Chronicles - MoviesOnline
  5. ^ "The Spiderwick Chronicles". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  6. ^ "The Spiderwick Chronicles". Metacritic. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  7. ^ "Jumper vaults to No. 1". Retrieved May 4, 2020. Both also received sweet A- CinemaScore grades, portending leggy runs at the box office…for at least another week.
  8. ^ "SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES, THE (2008) A-". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  9. ^ Richard Corliss (February 15, 2008). "Run from Jumper, Creep Toward Spiderwick". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on February 18, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  10. ^ Justin Change (February 10, 2008). "The Spiderwick Chronicles". Variety. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  11. ^ Peter Sobczynski (February 14, 2008). "The Spiderwick Chronicles". Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  12. ^ A. O. Scott (February 14, 2008). "A House Divided by Old Magic and New Residents". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  13. ^ Sean Axmaker (February 13, 2008). "'Spiderwick' looks pretty but offers little". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  14. ^ Claudia Puig (February 13, 2008). "'Spiderwick' doesn't stick, despite Highmore's performance". USA TODAY. Retrieved March 5, 2008. Freddie Highmore does a fine job in a dual role as identical twins. The talented actor skillfully portrays two distinctive personas.
  15. ^ Elizabeth Weitzman (February 14, 2008). "'Spiderwick Chronicles' fantasy can grow on you". NY Daily News. Retrieved March 5, 2008. Happily, Highmore has no trouble grasping the task at hand.
  16. ^ Ty Burr (February 14, 2008). "A creepy-crawly and digitized faerie tale". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 5, 2008. The most special effect is probably Highmore, who gets to sharpen up his American accent and who makes each twin, bookish Simon and bad-boy Jared, a functioning individual.
  17. ^ "7th Annual VES Awards". visual effects society. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  18. ^ "The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 17, 2008.
  19. ^ "The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 5, 2008.
  20. ^ Brendan Sinclair (August 9, 2007). "Sierra snares Spiderwick Chronicles". GameSpot. Retrieved March 4, 2008.

External links[edit]