Arrival (film)

2016 American science fiction drama film
This article is about the 2016 film. For other films, see Arrival (disambiguation).
Arrival, Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Produced by
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Based on "Story of Your Life"
by Ted Chiang
Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson
Cinematography Bradford Young
Edited by Joe Walker
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 1, 2016 (2016-09-01) (Venice Film Festival)
  • November 11, 2016 (2016-11-11) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $47 million[2][3]
Box office $198 million[3]

Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer, based on the 1998 short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang. It stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.[4]

Arrival had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2016, and was released in the United States and Canada on November 11, 2016, in IMAX by Paramount Pictures. The film has grossed $197 million worldwide and the storyline, atmosphere, and Adams's performance were all praised. The American Film Institute selected it as one of its ten Movies of the Year,[5] and it was nominated for numerous awards, among them eight at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won for Best Sound Editing. It also received Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress for Adams and Best Original Score.[6]



In what appears to be a flashback scene,[7] linguist Louise Banks is caring for her adolescent daughter, who dies of cancer.[8]

While she is lecturing at a university, twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear across the Earth. U.S. Army Colonel Weber asks Louise to join physicist Ian Donnelly to decipher the aliens' language and find out why they have arrived. The team is brought to a military camp in Montana near one of the spacecraft, and makes contact with two seven-limbed aliens on board. They call the extraterrestrials "heptapods", and Ian nicknames them Abbott and Costello. Louise discovers that they have a written language of complicated circular symbols, and she begins to learn the symbols that correspond to a basic vocabulary. As she becomes more proficient, she starts to see and dream vivid images of herself with her daughter and of their relationship with the father.

When Louise asks what the aliens want, they answer: "offer weapon". A similar translation of "use weapon" is made by one of the other sites. Fear of a potential threat from the aliens leads other nations to close down communication on the project, and some prepare for an attack. However, Louise argues that the symbol interpreted as "weapon" might have an alternative translation, such as "tool" or "technology".

Rogue U.S. soldiers plant explosives in the spacecraft. Unaware, Louise and Ian re-enter. The aliens give them a much larger and more complex message. Abbott ejects Ian and Louise from the craft as the explosion occurs, which leaves them unconscious. When Louise and Ian re-awaken, the military is preparing to evacuate, and the spacecraft moves higher above the ground. Ian works out that the symbols relate to the concept of time, and that the message is one-twelfth of the whole "gift". They conclude that the aliens must want nations to cooperate.

Meanwhile, China notifies the world that its military is planning to attack the spacecraft off its coast. Louise rushes back to the spacecraft in Montana, which sends down a shuttle to take her inside. She meets Costello, who communicates that Abbott is dying or dead. Louise asks about her visions of a daughter, and Costello explains that she is seeing the future (revealing that her "visions" were not flashbacks but flashforwards). Costello also communicates that they have come to help humanity by sharing their language, which is the "weapon" or "tool" because it changes the perception of time. The aliens know that 3000 years into the future they will need humanity's help in return.

Louise returns as the camp is being evacuated. She has a vision of herself at a future United Nations reception, being thanked by General Shang for convincing him to suspend China's military attack. He explains that she had called his private mobile telephone. He shows her its number, which he says he knows he must do without understanding why. In the present, Louise steals a satellite phone and calls Shang, but realizes she does not know what to say. Her vision continues with Shang explaining that she had convinced him by repeating his wife's last words in Mandarin, which he tells Louise.[nb 1] This convinces Shang in present time; the Chinese attack is called off, and the other nations resume contact. The twelve spacecraft then disappear from Earth.

When packing to leave the camp, Ian admits his love for Louise. They discuss life choices, and whether they would change them if they could know the future. Louise foresees that Ian will father her daughter Hannah, whose name is an intentional palindrome, but will leave her after discovering that she knew their daughter would die before adulthood. Nevertheless, when Ian asks Louise if she wants to have a baby, she agrees.



Villeneuve had wanted to make a science fiction film for some time, although he "never found the right thing."[12] Meanwhile, screenwriter Eric Heisserer had unsuccessfully been pitching an adaptation of Ted Chiang's short story "Story of Your Life" for years, and by the time producers Cohen and Levine approached him about a potential sci-fi project, he had largely given up on the idea.[13] Cohen and Levine, however, introduced Villeneuve to the novella, which the director immediately took to, although his work on Prisoners meant that he did not have the time to properly adapt it into a screenplay.[12] Cohen and Levine were able to get a first draft completed, which Villeneuve later reworked into a finished script.[12] Villeneuve ended up changing the title, partly because the resulting script became so far removed from the short story, as well as sounding "more like a romantic comedy".[12] Although Villeneuve remembered going through "hundreds" of possible titles, the eventual title was the first one the team had suggested.[12]

Heisserer said that in earlier versions of the script, the film had a different ending. Originally the gift the heptapods leave us are "blueprints to an interstellar ship, like an ark of sorts" that would enable us to help them in 3000 years. But after the release of Christopher Nolan's film Interstellar in 2014, Heisserer and Villeneuve agreed that that would not work. It was decided that the heptapods' gift would be what was "there in front of us, ... the power of their language."[14][15]

Jeremy Renner joined the film on March 6, 2015, to play a physics professor.[16] Forest Whitaker signed on in April 2015, with Michael Stuhlbarg joining as CIA Agent Halpern that June.[17][18] Linguistics professor Dr. Jessica Coon was brought on to consult with Amy Adams.[19]

Principal photography commenced on June 7, 2015, as soon as Renner had finished on Captain America: Civil War,[16] and lasted for 56 days. It mainly took place in Montreal, Canada, with St. Fabien-sur-Mer serving as Montana. The team took some time to find the right site to represent the landing, because producers wanted to avoid a mountainous site that might dwarf the scale of the ship, but thought that a barren location would be clichéd.[20] Most of the filming that did not involve the exterior of a spacecraft was done indoors on stages, although a real house was used as Louise's home.[20]

The script used language designed by artist Martine Bertrand (wife of the production designer Patrice Vermette), based on the scriptwriter's original concept. Stephen Wolfram[21] and Christopher Wolfram[22] analysed it to provide the basis for Louise's work in the film.[23][24] Three linguists from McGill University[25] were consulted. The sound files for the alien language were created with consultation from Morgan Sonderegger, a phonetics expert. Lisa Travis was consulted for set design during the construction of the protagonist's workplaces. Jessica Coon, a Canada Research Chair in Syntax and Indigenous Languages, was consulted for her linguistics expertise during review of the script.[26]


Arrival: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by Jóhann Jóhannsson
Released November 11, 2016 (2016-11-11)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 56:20
Label Deutsche Grammophon
Producer Jóhann Jóhannsson
Jóhann Jóhannsson chronology
Blade Runner 2049

Jóhann Jóhannsson began writing the score as shooting started, drawing on the screenplay and concept art for his inspiration. He developed one of the main themes in the first week using vocals and experimental piano loops.[27]

Max Richter's piece "On the Nature of Daylight" is featured in the film's opening and closing scenes. Due to the prominent use of Richter's music in the final film, Jóhannsson's score was deemed ineligible for the Academy Award for Best Original Score, with the rationale being that voters would be influenced by the use of pre-existing music when judging the merits of the score.[28]

The official soundtrack was released by Deutsche Grammophon on November 11, 2016. All music was composed by Jóhannsson.

No. Title Length
1. "Arrival" 2:51
2. "Heptapod B" 3:42
3. "Sapir-Whorf" 1:17
4. "Hydraulic Lift" 3:32
5. "First Encounter" 4:50
6. "Transmutation at a Distance" 1:35
7. "Around the Clock News" 1:35
8. "Xenolinguistics" 3:29
9. "Ultimatum" 1:52
10. "Principle of Least Time" 1:20
11. "Hazmat" 4:49
12. "Hammers and Nails" 2:32
13. "Xenoanthropology" 3:08
14. "Non-Zero-Sum Game" 4:18
15. "Properties of Explosive Materials" 3:31
16. "Escalation" 2:02
17. "Decyphering" 2:05
18. "One of Twelve" 3:09
19. "Rise" 1:47
20. "Kangaru" 2:56
Total length: 56:20


A teaser trailer was released in August 2016, followed the next week by the first official trailer.[29] Paramount Pictures released a series of promotional posters, with one showing a UFO hovering above a Hong Kong skyline that included Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower. The inaccuracy angered Hong Kong social media users. The posters were withdrawn and a statement attributed the inaccuracy to a third party vendor.[30]

In May 2014, Paramount acquired the U.S. and Canadian distribution rights.[31] Shortly after, Sony Pictures Releasing International and Stage 6 Films acquired some international distribution rights.[32] The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2016.[33] It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival,[34][35] Telluride Film Festival,[36] and the BFI London Film Festival.[37] The film was released on November 11, 2016.[38][39]

Home mediaEdit

Arrival was released on Digital HD on January 31, 2017[40] and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 14, 2017.[41][42]


Box officeEdit

Arrival grossed $100.5 million in the United States and Canada and $97.4 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $197.9 million, against a production budget of $47 million.[3]

Arrival was released alongside Almost Christmas and Shut In, and was originally expected to gross around $17 million from 2,317 theaters in its opening weekend, with the studio projecting a more conservative debut of $12–15 million.[2] The film made $1.4 million from Thursday night previews at 1,944 theaters and $9.4 million on its first day, pushing projections up to $24 million. It ended up grossing $24.1 million over the weekend, finishing third at the box office.[43] In its second weekend, the film grossed $12.1 million (a drop of 49.6%), and in its third made $11.5 million (dropping just 5.6%).[44] Following receiving its eight Oscar nominations, the film returned to 1,221 theaters on January 27, 2017 (an increase of 1,041 from the week before) and grossed $1.5 million (up 357.4% from its previous week's $321,411).[45]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 94% based on 309 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams."[46] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[47] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[48]

Brian Tallerico, from, gave the film three out of four: "It's a movie designed to simultaneously challenge viewers, move them and get them talking. For the most part, it succeeds."[49] At, Sam Lansky described it as "sophisticated, grownup sci-fi: a movie about aliens for people who don't like movies about aliens."[50] The Atlantic writer Christopher Orr said that: "Arrival, the remarkable new film by Denis Villeneuve, begins aptly enough with an arrival—though perhaps not the kind you would expect."[51] IGN reviewer Chris Tilly gave it a score of 8.5 out of 10, saying: "Arrival is a language lesson masquerading as a blockbuster, though much more entertaining than that sounds. The film features shades of Interstellar, Contact and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but never feels derivative. Rather it’s smart, sophisticated sci-fi that asks BIG questions, and does a pretty good job of answering them."[52]

British film critic Robbie Collin gave Arrival five out of five, calling it: "introspective, philosophical and existentially inclined – yet it unfolds in an unwavering tenor of chest-tightening excitement. And there is a mid-film revelation – less a sudden twist than sleek unwinding of everything you think you know – that feels, when it hits you, like your seat is tipping back."[53]

The UK newspaper The Guardian rated it as the third best film of 2016.[54] Critic Catherine Shoard said that it "amounts to something transcendent; something to reignite your excitement for cinema, for life."[55] Numerous other publications, including io9,[56] Den of Geek,[57] WhatCulture,[58] Mir Fantastiki,[59] The Atlantic,[60] Blastr,[61] and Digital Trends[62] named Arrival the best movie of 2016.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Screenwriter Eric Heisserer revealed at the Alamo Drafthouse's Fantastic Fest premiere of the film at the end of September 2016,[9] that Shang's wife's last words, translated into English, were "In war, there are no winners, only widows."[10] Director Denis Villeneuve decided not to include subtitles for Louise's line and so keep it a mystery; Heisserer said he would have preferred it not be kept secret, and was happy to reveal the translation at the Fest.[11]


  1. ^ "Arrival (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "'Doctor Strange' to hold off 'Arrival' and 'Almost Christmas' at the box office". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ a b c "Arrival (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  4. ^ Dargis, Manohla (November 10, 2016). "Review: Aliens Drop Anchor in 'Arrival,' but What Are Their Intentions?". New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2016. 
  5. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 8, 2016). "AFI Awards: Best Of 2016 List Includes 'Silence', 'Hacksaw Ridge' & More". Archived from the original on January 16, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Golden Globes 2017: The Complete List of Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. December 12, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  7. ^ "The Epic Intimacy of Arrival". The Atlantic. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  8. ^ "Grief is at the center of the season's strongest dramas, including 'Arrival' and 'Manchester by the Sea'". 2 January 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  9. ^ Patches, Matt (September 30, 2016). "Aliens, Mosh Pits, and Satanic Rituals: 72 Hours at America's Wildest Film Festival". Thrillist Media Group. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  10. ^ Libbey, Dirk (February 17, 2017). "Arrival Ending: One Exciting Mystery Has Now Been Solved". CinemaBlend. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  11. ^ Patches, Matt (November 13, 2016). "The Mystery Line in 'Arrival,' Revealed". Thrillist Media Group. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Tartaglione, Nancy. "Denis Villeneuve Talks 'Arrival', "A Vacation From Darkness" & The "Berserk" Risk Of 'Blade Runner' Sequel – Venice Q&A". Deadline. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  13. ^ Calia, Michael. "A New Story in Sci-Fi Writer Ted Chiang's Life: Hollywood". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  14. ^ Han, Angie (February 16, 2017). "How 'Interstellar' Changed the Ending of 'Arrival'". /Film. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  15. ^ Chitwood, Adam (February 13, 2017). "'Arrival' Writer Eric Heisserer on How 'Interstellar' Forced Him to Change the Ending". Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b Kit, Borys (March 6, 2015). "Jeremy Renner Joins Amy Adams in Sci-Fi 'Story of Your Life' (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  17. ^ Kroll, Justin (April 1, 2015). "Forest Whitaker Eyes 'Story of Your Life' With Amy Adams (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved June 9, 2015. 
  18. ^ White, James (June 17, 2015). "Michael Stuhlbarg Joins Story Of Your Life". Empireonline. Retrieved June 20, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Sloan Science & Film". Retrieved 2016-11-11. 
  20. ^ a b "CLOSE ENCOUNTER". British Cinematographer. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  21. ^ Stephen Wolfram (November 10, 2016). "Quick, How Might the Alien Spacecraft Work?". Stephen Wolfram Blog. 
  22. ^ a b c Science vs. Cinema (2016-11-28), Science vs. Cinema: ARRIVAL, retrieved 2017-02-07 
  23. ^ Margaret Rhodes (11 December 2016). "How Arrival's Designers Crafted a Mesmerizing Alien Alphabet". WIRED. 
  24. ^ Marissa Martinelli (22 November 2016). "How Realistic Is the Way Amy Adams' Character Hacks the Alien Language In Arrival? We Asked a Linguist.". Slate. 
  25. ^ The Ling Space (2016-11-16), The Linguistics of Arrival, retrieved 2017-02-07 
  26. ^ Abley, Mark (November 4, 2016). "Watchwords: Denis Villeneuve's new film, Arrival, gets to the heart of language". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved January 5, 2017. 
  27. ^ Weintraub, Steve (October 26, 2016). "Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson on 'Arrival'". (Complex Media). Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  28. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 13, 2016). "Oscars: Academy Disqualifies 'Arrival,' 'Silence,' 'Manchester' Original Scores (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved February 26, 2017. 
  29. ^ Sharf, Zack. "'Arrival' Official Trailer: Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve Make Alien Contact In Ambitious Sci-Fi Drama". Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Hong Kong outrage at 'Arrival' poster skyline blunder". BBC. August 19, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Cannes: Paramount Confirms 'Story Of Your Life' Acquisition; $20 Million Is Fest Record Deal". Deadline. May 14, 2014. 
  32. ^ McNary, Dave (May 18, 2014). "Cannes: Amy Adams Sci-Fier 'Story of Your Life' Sold to Sony for Most Territories". Variety. Retrieved October 12, 2016. 
  33. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (July 21, 2016). "Tom Ford's 'Nocturnal Animals,' Villeneuve's 'Arrival,' new Kusturica Headed for Venice (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  34. ^ Erbland, Kate (July 26, 2016). "TIFF Reveals First Slate of 2016 Titles, Including 'Magnificent Seven,' 'American Honey,' 'La La Land' and 'Birth of A Nation'". Retrieved August 8, 2016. 
  35. ^ "Arrival". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved August 8, 2016. 
  36. ^ Hammond, Pete (September 1, 2016). "Telluride Film Festival Lineup: 'Sully', 'La La Land', 'Arrival', 'Bleed For This' & More". Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  37. ^ "Arrival". BFI London Film Festival. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  38. ^ "Denis Villeneuve's 'Story of Your Life' Gets Possible New Title, UK Release Date". 
  39. ^ Hipes, Patrick (June 16, 2016). "Paramount Dates Its Splashy Amy Adams Sci-Fi Tale 'Arrival' For Awards Season". Retrieved June 16, 2016. 
  40. ^ "Arrival (2016)". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  41. ^ Hunt, Bill. "Arrival official, plus Manchester by the Sea, Trolls, Jackie, Heat, Speed Racer update & more". The Digital Bits. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  42. ^ Klein, Brennan. "Amy Adams alien flick Arrival descends onto 4K Ultra HD this Valentine's Day". Joblo. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  43. ^ "'Doctor Strange' Repeats at #1 as 'Arrival', 'Almost Christmas' & 'Shut In' Hit Theaters". Box Office Mojo. 
  44. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 24, 2016). "'Moana' Rings Up $81M+ & Ranks As 2nd Best Thanksgiving Debut After 'Frozen'". Retrieved November 27, 2016. 
  45. ^ "Is Controversy Impacting 'A Dog's Purpose' At The Box Office?". 
  46. ^ "Arrival (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 21, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Arrival Reviews-Metacritic". Retrieved 4 January 2017. 
  48. ^ "Arrival (2016)". CinemaScore. 
  49. ^ "Arrival Movie Review & Film Summary (2016)". Roger Retrieved November 11, 2016. 
  50. ^ Lansky, Sam (November 10, 2016). "In Arrival, Amy Adams Takes a Listening Tour of the Universe". Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  51. ^ "Review: 'Arrival,' Starring Amy Adams, Is One of the Best of the Year". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 11, 2016. 
  52. ^ Chris Tilly (September 26, 2016). "Arrival Review". IGN. Retrieved November 13, 2016. 
  53. ^ "Arrival review: dazzling science-fiction that will leave you speechless". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved November 11, 2016. 
  54. ^ "The 50 best films of 2016 in the UK: the full list". The Guardian. November 29, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  55. ^ "The 50 best films of 2016 in the UK: No 3 Arrival". The Guardian. December 14, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  56. ^ The 10 Best (and Five Worst) Genre Movies of 2016
  57. ^ Den Of Geek films of the year: Arrival
  58. ^ WhatCulture. 20 Best Movies Of 2016
  59. ^ Mir Fantastiki. Best sci-fi and fantasy movies of 2016
  60. ^ The Atlantic. The Best Movies of 2016
  61. ^ Blastr. Our Top 10 Movies of 2016
  62. ^ Digital Trends Best Movies of 2016

External linksEdit