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Race to Witch Mountain

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andy Fickman
Produced by Andrew Gunn
Mario Iscovich (executive)
Anne Marie Sanderlin (executive)[1]
Written by Andy Fickman
Mark Bomback
Matt Lopez
Starring Dwayne Johnson
AnnaSophia Robb
Carla Gugino
Ciarán Hinds
Alexander Ludwig
Tom Everett Scott
Chris Marquette
Music by Trevor Rabin
Cinematography Greg Gardiner
Editing by David Rennie
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) March 13, 2009 (2009-03-13)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50,000,000[2]
Gross revenue $106,303,988 [3]
Preceded by Beyond Witch Mountain

Race to Witch Mountain is a 2009 science fiction adventure film and a remake of the 1975 fantasy film, Escape to Witch Mountain. Both versions of the film are based on the 1968 novel Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key. The film is directed by Andy Fickman and stars Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Ciarán Hinds and Carla Gugino.

Filming began in Los Angeles in March 2008. Race to Witch Mountain was released on March 13, 2009.



Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) is a cab driver in Las Vegas. One of his passengers is Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), a failed scientist who is giving speeches about legitimate scientific theories of UFOs and outer space.

The next day, Bruno notices two children, Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) sitting in the back seat of his cab. They tell him they need to go to a certain destination and are willing to pay all they have ($15,000, which they removed from an ATM) to get there. Meanwhile, Major Henry Burke (Ciarán Hinds) is searching for information on the two aliens that landed some days earlier and goes after Jack realzing the aliens are the kids in Jack's car and afer a short chase Seth manages to defeat Burke's car and Jack gets away.

When they arrive at a house on the top of a mountain, Bruno follows them out of concern and curiosity. There, the kids retrieve the device they were looking for, contained within alien flora.

When leaving, they are attacked by a "Siphon" (Tom Woodruff, Jr.), a creature built to destroy a certain target. The Siphon pursues them, until its spaceship crashes into a train, the locomotive is destroyed by an explosion in the railroad tunnel, and the creature is wounded. The trio eventually find themselves in a small town. The children explain to Bruno that they are aliens from a distant planet, who are sent to Earth by their parents because the government of their dying planet intends to attack and invade Earth so that their kind may live on there. They also explain that the object they obtained at the house contains the results of an experiment which their parents set up. The research from this experiment will save their planet without having to attack and invade Earth. However their planet's military prefer the idea of invading Earth and arrested their parents for trying to save Earth from invasion and so they decided to complete the mission for them, but the military sent the Siphon assassin to stop them. They are next pursued by government agencies trying to retrieve the children for experiments.

They are joined by Dr. Friedman at the UFO Expo. After a while they go visit Dr. Friedman's best friend "Dr. Donald Harlan" (Garry Marshall) but after explaining he refuses to believe that they're aliens but tells them that the spaceship was taken to a secret government place "Witch Mountain". The group, now including Dr. Friedman, after evading the pursuing government agents, eventually arrive at Witch Mountain. There, the children are captured, along with Bruno and Friedman. The government agents began running tests to try to discover the secret of their powers in attempt to harness them. Burke then plans to kill them and do unspeakable things to them. After a fake surrender to Burke, the two humans escape and come to rescue the kids in nick of time. The Siphon causes a distraction by attacking the base, allowing the humans to free the children and reach their ship. They launch the ship, escape through the mountain's tunnels and kill the Siphon who boarded the ship. Once safe, the kids drop the humans off, and during a tearful goodbye, give Bruno and Dr. Friedman a device that will allow the kids to always find them. As for Burke, whose base is now in ruins, he is left getting questions from Washington. The movie ends with the spaceship taking off and returning to their planet.

During the end credits, Bruno and Dr. Friedman (now in a relationship) are speaking at a UFO convention about their new successful book called "Race to Witch Mountain". As the couple get into their car and are about to leave, the device the kids gave Bruno activates, implying that they may return to earth.


  • Dwayne Johnson as Jack Bruno, a Las Vegas cab driver and former convict.[4] The director wrote in a cab driver as a main character because there was a unique relationship between the driver and his passengers. Fickman explained, "When Dwayne's driving and two aliens appear in his cab, he's stuck with them, there is an implied contract that I will get you to your destination, because that's what he does."[5] This is Dwayne Johnson's second Disney film, the first one being the 2007 family comedy film The Game Plan, also directed by Andy Fickman.
  • AnnaSophia Robb as Sara, sister of Seth, a girl with telekinetic and telepathic powers.[6] Fickman chose Robb based on her performance in Bridge to Terabithia. She is very kind to Bruno and is the most compassionate of the two siblings.[7]
  • Alexander Ludwig as Seth, brother of Sara, a boy with the power to control his molecular density - "phasing" and becoming very dense to some degree of invulnerability.He is very cold to Bruno at first, not trusting him very much, but apologizes in the end saying that if it weren't for him they would have not finished their mission. Both siblings talk using overly formal, emotionless voices, and are always addressing Bruno by both his first and last name at and in all situations.[6]
  • Ciarán Hinds as Henry Burke, one of the main villains in the movie. He is also very sarcastic.[8] Hinds described his character as a man in black, explaining, "I'm the head of the operation who's contacted directly by a man you never see...[It] is about protecting the country. He's responsible for it, and he'll do whatever needs to be done. That's how he sees it."[9]
  • Carla Gugino as Dr. Alex Friedman,[5] a discredited astrophysicist.[6] Fired from her university, she is relegated to giving a lecture at a UFO conference about hard science. She also becomes Jack's love interest.[9] Fickman cast Gugino into the role since he was a fan of the short-lived television series Threshold, in which the actress starred.[10]
  • Tom Woodruff, Jr. as The Siphon, one of the main villains of the movie and well-trained alien assassin.
  • Garry Marshall as 'Harlan' a friend of Alex's and an author of books who thinks he can "tell when people are lying to me". He is seen tricking Burke into going after him by trading cars with Jack.[6]
  • Cheech Marin as Eddie Cortez, the auto mechanic who gets frustrated when people come to his shop in the middle of the night, when they're closed.[11]
  • Chris Marquette as Pope.[11]
  • William J. Birnes, the host of UFO Hunters, in a cameo.[11]
  • Whitley Strieber, author of Communion, in a cameo.[11][12]

Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, who portrayed Tia and Tony in the original Witch Mountain films of the 1970s, made cameo appearances in Race to Witch Mountain. Richards appears as a roadhouse waitress and Eisenmann appears as a sheriff. In addition, Meredith Salenger, the star of Disney's 1985 adventure The Journey of Natty Gann has a cameo as a TV reporter named "Natalie Gann." [13][14]


In July 2007, Walt Disney Pictures hired Andy Fickman to direct Witch Mountain, a "modern re-imagining" of Escape to Witch Mountain, using a script by Matt Lopez.[15] The following August, Dwayne Johnson (most notably famous for portraying The Rock in the WWE) was cast into a lead role, with filming scheduled to begin in March 2008.[4] Fickman did not describe the film as a remake, defining his production as "a new chapter within the world of Witch Mountain". The director also described the book, in which the films are based as "a very cool dark thriller" and anticipated drawing elements from it that did not exist in the 1975 film.[16] By March 2008, filmmakers were using a new script written by Mark Bomback.[17] The film was re-titled Race to Witch Mountain, and it began filming in Los Angeles in the same month.[8]

The convention center in Pomona, California was converted into the film's UFO Expo 9, and the interior of Witch Mountain was designed using photographs from a tour of NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain.[11] A cabin for the story was also built in Agua Dulce, California.[18] The director sought assistance from UFO experts, the military, and CIA advisers to shape the elements of the film.[19] He also introduced a new element in the remake, an extraterrestrial creature called Siphon. The creature was conceived by the design team who created the look for Alien and Predator in the film Alien vs Predator.[12]


Offspring song "Stuff is Messed Up" and Future World Music song "Heart of Fury" were used in promos for the movie. The score to Race to Witch Mountain was composed by Trevor Rabin, who recorded his score with a 78-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony and a 24-person choir at the Sony Scoring Stage.[20] Two of the songs in the film were written and performed by country and western band Brokedown Cadillac, which appears briefly in an opening scene.

The movie also features the hit single "Fly On The Wall" by Miley Cyrus and "Emergency" by Hollywood Records artist Steve Rushton, featured on the soundtrack.

Home Media Release

Race to Witch Mountain was released on DVD and Blu-ray August 4, 2009, in three different sets. First, a single disc containing a wide-screen version of the movie with no bonus features; second, a Deluxe-Edition that contains deleted scenes as well as other bonus features and a Digital Copy; and third, a Blu-Ray release with the same extras as the Deluxe Edition, along with a Digital Copy in the blu-ray format.[citation needed]


Reviews for Race to Witch Mountain have been mixed. Based on 74 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently has a 43% approval rating from critics, with an average score of 5.1/10.[21] By comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 50, based on 23 reviews.[22]

Despite the mixed outcome, the film turned to be a box office hit. It became the first Disney film in 2009 to open at #1, grossing $24.4 million. The film would go on to gross over $67 million domesticallly, and over $39 million overseas, for a total of $106 million.


  1. ^ "Race to Witch Mountain". Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  2. ^ "Watchmen Falls; Witch Mountain Rises". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  3. ^ Race to Witch Mountain at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (August 28, 2007). "The Rock set for 'Witch Mountain'". Variety. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Perkis, Ed (July 31, 2008). "Comic Con: Interview With The Stars And Director Of Witch Mountain". (Cinema Blend, LLC). Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d Goldstein, Gregg (March 14, 2008). "Carla Gugino scratches "Witch" itch". Reuters. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  7. ^ Chen, Sandie Angulo (October 2, 2008). "Andy Fickman". Variety. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "Irishman Hinds playing bad guy in "Witch" redo". Reuters. March 5, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "Set Visit: Race to Witch Mountain - Part Two". IGN. July 21, 2008. Retrieved July 25, 2008. 
  10. ^ Lee, Patrick (July 30, 2008). "Witch's Gugino Chases UFOs". Sci Fi Wire (Sci Fi Channel). Retrieved July 30, 2008. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Chupnick, Steve (July 16, 2008). "Race to Witch Mountain Set Visit: Part I". (Coming Soon Media, L.P). Retrieved July 16, 2008. 
  12. ^ a b "Set Visit: Race to Witch Mountain — Part One". IGN. July 16, 2008. Retrieved July 25, 2008. 
  13. ^ Kit, Borys (April 29, 2008). ""Witch Mountain" kids return for remake". Reuters. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  14. ^ John Hough. (1975). Escape to Witch Mountain. [Motion picture]. The Walt Disney Company. 
  15. ^ Kit, Borys (July 23, 2007). "Director Fickman to conjure "Witch" redo". Reuters. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  16. ^ Adler, Shawn (September 25, 2007). "AnnaSophia Robb To Climb ‘Witch Mountain’". MTV Movies Blog (MTV). Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Carla Gugino Joins Race to Witch Mountain". (Coming Soon Media, L.P). March 14, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2008. 
  18. ^ Newgen, Heather (August 4, 2008). "Race to Witch Mountain Set Visit: Fickman & Gunn". (Coming Soon Media, L.P). Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  19. ^ Vejvoda, Jim (July 24, 2008). "SDCC 08: IGN Scales Witch Mountain". IGN. Retrieved July 25, 2008. 
  20. ^ Dan Goldwasser (2009-02-18). "Trevor Rabin scores Race to Witch Mountain". Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  21. ^ "Race to Witch Mountain Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  22. ^ "Race to Witch Mountain (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 

External links


Simple English

Race to Witch Mountain is a 2009 movie starring Dwayne Johnson as Jack Bruno, a Las Vegas taxist taking two young children called Sarah and Seth played by AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig.



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