The Box (2009 film): Wikis


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The Box

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Kelly
Produced by Richard Kelly
Dan Lin
Sean McKittrick
Written by Richard Matheson
(short story)
Richard Kelly
Starring Cameron Diaz
James Marsden
Frank Langella
Music by Win Butler
Régine Chassagne
Owen Pallett
Cinematography Steven Poster
Editing by Sam Bauer
Studio Radar Pictures
Media Rights Capital
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) October 29, 2009 (2009-10-29)
November 6, 2009
Running time 119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25–30 million[1][2]
Gross revenue $26,000,000[2] (domestic)

The Box is a 2009 American science fictionthriller/horror based on the 1970 short story "Button, Button" by Richard Matheson, which was previously adapted into an episode of the 1980s incarnation of The Twilight Zone. The film is written and directed by Richard Kelly and stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a couple who receive a box from a mysterious man who offers them one million dollars if they press the button sealed within the dome on top of the box.[3] Production for the film began in November 2007 and concluded in February 2008.



The film begins with an NSA internal memo being typed across the screen, stating that a man named Arlington Steward has recovered from severe burn wounds and is delivering units related to the Mars project.

The film then opens up in 1976 Richmond, Virginia with Norma and Arthur Lewis awaking at 5:45 am as the doorbell rings. Norma goes downstairs and looks through the peephole seeing a black car drive off and a package on the doorstep. Inside, she and her husband find a wooden box with a button protected by a glass dome, locked with a key, and a note that reads Mr. Steward will come at 5:00 pm.

Arthur goes to work as an optics engineer at NASA, where he helped in designing the camera on the Viking Mars probe. He finds because he failed his psych exam, he has been rejected from the astronaut program despite good test scores and glowing recommendations. Norma goes to her job as a teacher at a private school teaching literature. One of her students remarks on her limp, after which she shows her class her disfigured right foot, missing four toes. Later that day Norma returns home and confesses her fear of losing their home, due to lack of money. That is when Arlington Steward appears at their door.

Steward offers Norma one million dollars if she presses the button sealed in the dome. The catch is that someone they do not know will die. After much discussion as to whether they should press the button, and some tinkering with the box, Norma suddenly pushes it. A 911 call is then shown, where someone has been shot. The police enter the house and find a woman shot through the heart, and a little girl locked in the bathroom upstairs.

Steward returns and presents Norma and Arthur with the million, without asking whether they pressed the button. He informs the couple that whoever receives the offer next, they will surely not know them, implying that if the next people press the button, one of them, or their son, may be at risk. Arthur storms after Steward and attempts to return the million, but he drives off.

Arthur and Norma attend a wedding rehearsal dinner, where Arthur is picked to select a present from a table. The student of Norma's who prompted her to reveal her disfigurement holds up two fingers to Arthur. Arthur then sees a plain brown box like the one left on their doorstep and chooses it. He and Norma find a poor quality black and white photo of Steward before his disfigurement inside.

Norma's sister tells Arthur that the student Arthur saw was the one who made fun of his wife's foot. Arthur asks Norma's dad (who is a police officer) to run the license plate number of Steward's car. Norma receives a phone call from Steward, who scolds her for allowing her husband to make contact with the police. Arthur approaches the student and yells at him for making fun of Norma. He then storms out of the party, with Norma following him. As they start their car, they see "No Exit" written into the frost on their windshield.

When they get home, Arthur takes their babysitter Dana home. As they are driving, Dana acts strangely, telling Arthur to "look into the light" to solve his problems. Her nose begins to bleed and she passes out. Arthur attempts to wake her up and finds her drivers license, which shows her name is actually Sarah Matthews and she is from Boston. He reaches the motel, where Sarah has been staying and she wakes up with a start. She tells Arthur it's not safe for him there, and to look in the mirror because that's the only place with the answer. In the motel, every door she passes opens and someone stares her down. She reaches her room, where she has a large map and pictures of the Lewises.

At a supermarket, Norma is approached by a panicked woman who tells her to look up a certain call number in the library, and not to trust her husband, before passing out with a bloody nose. Arthur finds out that Steward's license plate is registered to the NSA. He asks Norma's father if he can go with him to see the house where the shooting mentioned earlier took place. Once there, he finds pictures of Steward and a picture of a Human Resources book, and a library call number.

Norma and Arthur both visit the library, separately. Norma avoids Arthur, as instructed by the woman in the supermarket. Norma finds a film reel, which shows Arlington prior to his disfigurement. Arthur is followed by a crowd of strangers. He finds himself in a large hall filled with more people. He approaches a woman he learns is Steward's wife, who says Steward is testing "all of us" and directs Arthur to follow her. He is presented with three gateways made of hovering water. Two lead to eternal damnation, one to salvation. Remembering the student who held up two fingers, Arthur picks gate two. He enters the water and finds himself whirling through whiteness. Norma is also led by two women to Steward. Steward informs Norma that he was struck by lightning, and can now communicate with "those who control the lightning". He asks her how she felt when she saw his disfigurement, and she says she felt love, because of her own disfigurement. Norma begins to cry and Steward takes her hand. She wakes up and finds herself back at home in her bed, above her Arthur is lingering over her in a rectangular water module that suddenly bursts.

Back at NASA, the NASA chief and the NSA chief are discussing who Arlington is, saying he was struck by lightning and died shortly after. In the morgue though a nurse heard a man laughing. He was transferred to a high security military hospital where his body seemed to regenerate ten times faster than a normal being, with cellular degeneration halting.

At the wedding of Norma's sister, their son Walter is kidnapped. Arthur is taken away by Jeffrey, a gun-toting former employee of NASA who shot his wife, as earlier seen in the 911 call. He reveals to Arthur that he had to choose between his wife or his daughter. He shows Arthur the book seen earlier in the picture, and the water portals or "triptychs". They are then stopped by a man in a Santa Claus uniform, ringing a bell. As the two men are trying to figure out what is going on, they are hit by a large truck that kills Jeffrey.

We then see Arthur dragged from a military-NASA warehouse. Arthur and Norma return home and find Steward in their kitchen, who says they face two final options. Their son, Walter, is now deaf and blind. They can either live on with their million dollars, and their disabled son, or Arthur can shoot Norma through the heart, at which point Walter's sight and hearing will be restored and the million will be placed in a high interest bank account for Walter.

Steward leaves, revealing on his way out that their son is in the bathroom, locked upstairs. The two of them run upstairs and try to get him out, but cannot. They decide that they must make a choice, and Norma leads Arthur downstairs. While this is happening, we see another couple make the decision to push the button, and at the moment they push the button, Arthur shoots Norma through the heart, and runs upstairs to find Walter. Walter is passed out on the floor, and does not respond. Soon the police arrive, having been called about the gunshot. Walter wakes up and calls out, as Arthur is led out of the house. As Arthur leaves, we see Steward arrive at the new couple's house. Arthur's NASA friend informs him he and his son will be taken care of, as Arthur is escorted away by men in uniforms, who put him into a black car before driving off, as Walter looks out through the home's window with Norma's father at his side.



Director Richard Kelly wrote a script based on the 1970 short story "Button, Button" by author Richard Matheson, which had previously been turned into a Twilight Zone episode of the same name.[4] The project had a budget of over $30 million provided by Media Rights Capital. Kelly described his intent for the film, "My hope is to make a film that is incredibly suspenseful and broadly commercial, while still retaining my artistic sensibility."[5] Actress Cameron Diaz was cast in the lead role in June 2007.[6] Most of the filming took place in the Boston, Massachusetts area, with scenes shot in downtown Boston, South Boston, Waltham, Ipswich, Winthrop, Milton, Medfield, Quincy, Kingston, and North Andover, as well as other localities. Some filming took place on the Milton Academy campus, and a large indoor set was built inside a former Lucent Technologies building in North Andover to recreate a NASA laboratory. The production crew also journeyed to NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to shoot a number of scenes for the film. Richard Kelly's father had worked at NASA Langley in the 1970s and 80s.[7] Many background extras were reused in different scenes, and people with period correct 60s and 70s cars were encouraged to participate. Actor Frank Langella was cast in October 2007, and production began on the film the following month.[8] Prior to production, actor James Marsden was cast a lead role opposite Diaz.[9] Production concluded by February 2008.[10]


In December 2008, it was announced that Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, and Owen Pallett of Canadian band Arcade Fire provided an original score for the film.[11] Butler, Chassagne, and Pallett helped Kelly during the editing process by advising his decisions.[12] As of November 2009, the soundtrack has not been released nor been set for release. Kelly stated in an interview with that Butler, Chassagne, and Pallett plan on releasing the soundtrack but probably not until after Arcade Fire's third album release in 2010.[13]


The film was first released in Australia on October 29, 2009. While it was originally scheduled to be released in the U.S. on October 30, 2009, but on July 31, 2009, it was announced the release date would be delayed to November 6, 2009.[14]

The film opened with $7,571,417 in 2,635 theaters at an average of $2,873 per theater. It ranked number 6 at the box office and behind Disney's A Christmas Carol, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Fourth Kind[2] The film has come to gross $14,987,713 domestically.[2]

It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.S. on February 23, 2010[15]. The movie was also specially published as digital download.[16]


The film received mixed reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 44% of 124 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5 out of 10. The site's general consensus is that "Imaginative but often preposterous, The Box features some thrills but largely feels too piecemeal."[17] Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 33%, based on a sample of 15 reviews.[18] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 47 based on 24 reviews.[19]

American film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars overall saying, "This movie kept me involved and intrigued, and for that I'm grateful."[20] Market research firm CinemaScore reported that the film receives very negative feedback. The Box received an F, for which CinemaScore President Ed Mintz blamed the film's ending and was quoted as saying "People really thought this was a stinker".[21]

Top ten lists


  1. ^ "Movie projector: Holiday season kicks off with Disney's pricey 'Christmas Carol'". LA Times. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The Box (2009) Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  3. ^ Best & Worst of 2009: Mr. Disgusting's Top 10 of 2009!
  4. ^ "Open Over 50 Hi-Res Stills from Richard Kelly's 'The Box'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  5. ^ "Richard Kelly Blogs about The Box & Provides a New Clip". Dead Central. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  6. ^ Michael Fleming (2007-06-28). "Cameron Diaz to star in 'The Box'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  7. ^ Jim Hodges (2008-01-28). "The Producer of the Director Returns to NASA Langley". NASA Langley Researcher News. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 
  8. ^ Diane Garrett (2007-10-11). "Frank Langella to star in Kelly's 'Box'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  9. ^ Gregg Goldstein (2007-11-02). "Marsden wrapped up in 'Box' role". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  10. ^ "Kelly Wraps The Box". Sci Fi Wire. 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  11. ^ "Arcade Fire's Butler Talks Miroir Noir, The Box Score". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  12. ^ "Mr. Beaks And Richard Kelly Rummage Through THE BOX!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  13. ^ "Richard Kelley Interview (segment from the interview is about the film's soundtrack)". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  14. ^ "Phase 1 of The Box Website Now Open". Dead Central. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  15. ^ "Open The Box at Home". January 6, 2010. Retrieved January 6, 2010. 
  16. ^ Exclusive Blu-ray/DVD Special Features Clip: The Box
  17. ^ "The Box (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  18. ^ "The Box (Top Critics)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-12-26. 
  19. ^ "The Box: Reviews (2009)". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  20. ^ "Roger Ebert's Review". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  21. ^ "Film fans give 'The Box' the thumbs down". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  22. ^ Film Critic Top Ten Lists Metacritic. Retrieved on 26 January 2009

External links

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