Brightburn is a 2019 American superhero horror film directed by David Yarovesky, written by Brian and Mark Gunn, and produced by James Gunn and Kenneth Huang. Starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner, the plot follows Brandon Breyer, a young boy of extraterrestrial origin reared on Earth who discovers he has superpowers, using them with dark intentions. The film was produced and financed by Screen Gems, Stage 6 Films, The H Collective and Troll Court Entertainment.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Yarovesky
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyMichael Dallatorre
Edited by
  • Andrew S. Eisen
  • Peter Gvozdas
Music byTim Williams
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • May 24, 2019 (2019-05-24)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6–12 million[1]
Box office$32.9 million[2]

Brightburn was announced as "Untitled James Gunn Horror Project" in December 2017. Aside from Gunn as a producer, his brother Brian and cousin Mark penned the screenplay, which adapts the concept of Superman for explicit horror. Principal photography began in March 2018 and wrapped in May of that same year.

Brightburn was released in the United States on May 24, 2019, by Sony Pictures Releasing. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the horror elements, gore, concept, and Banks' performance, but criticized its writing and pacing, and felt that the film did not deliver on the full potential of its premise. The film grossed $32.9 million against a production budget of $6–12 million.

Plot Edit

In 2006, a spaceship crashes in a forest in Brightburn, Kansas. Tori and Kyle Breyer, a couple who are trying but unable to conceive, see an explosion from their house and go out to the crash site. When they reach the crash they find a spaceship with a baby inside, whom they adopt and name Brandon. The spacecraft is then hidden in their barn, which Brandon's parents tell him to stay away from. Around Brandon's 12th birthday, he begins to discover he has exceptional strength, as well as the ability to fly. It is revealed that Brandon has never bled or received a bruise. His disposition also changes, from a sweet child to having anger and temper issues.

In middle school, Brandon is an academically exceptional student but socially awkward and frequently bullied. Caitlyn Connor, a girl in Brandon's class, shows sympathy for him and tells him that smart people end up ruling the world. Brandon develops a crush and stalks Caitlyn in her room in the middle of the night, scaring her. One day, during a trust exercise in PE, Brandon falls towards Caitlyn, but she lets him drop to the ground and accuses him of being a pervert. Angered by her accusation, Brandon crushes her hand and is suspended from school after being accosted by Caitlyn's mother Erika.

That night, Brandon sleepwalks once again to the spaceship and breaks into the barn where it is hidden, cutting his hand on the ship. Tori follows and sees him levitating, chanting the ship's message: "Take the world". Tori reveals the truth of his origin, and Brandon angrily trashes the house and later kills Erika. Police find a series of symbols drawn on a window while investigating Erika's disappearance, the same symbols that Brandon is seen drawing in his notebook. The next day, Brandon dons his costume and is then caught sneaking into his aunt and uncle's house by his Uncle Noah. After Noah threatens to tell his father, Brandon kills him by lifting and dropping his vehicle. The following morning, Tori and Kyle inform Brandon of Noah's death, which the police believe was an accident, but Brandon shows no emotion or empathy. Suspecting Brandon to be the killer, Kyle finds Brandon's blood-stained shirt and shows it to Tori, but she refuses to believe it.

Kyle takes Brandon on a father-son hunting trip in the woods. Kyle attempts to shoot and kill Brandon with his hunting rifle, but the execution fails when the bullet bounces off the back of Brandon's head. Brandon then kills him with heat vision. A sheriff arrives at the Breyers' and asks to see Brandon. Tori tells the sheriff that Kyle and Brandon are not home, so he shows Tori the symbol found at the scenes of Erika's and Noah's deaths. Tori finds Brandon's notebook with drawings of his murders, the same symbol that the sheriff found at both murders and his message to "take the world". She begins to believe Kyle. She tries calling Kyle, but Brandon answers and implies he is now coming for her.

Brandon returns and begins destroying the house. Tori calls 911, but both the sheriff and his deputy are killed by Brandon before backup can arrive. Remembering that the ship's hull can cut Brandon, Tori runs to the barn and discovers Erika's eviscerated body. As Brandon pursues her, Tori tries to tell him about how much she loves him. She then tries to stab him with a piece of the ship, but Brandon grabs her arm, tosses the shard to the floor, and flies his mother into the sky to drop her from several thousand feet to her death. After he watches her fall, he looks up to see an oncoming airplane.

The following morning, the airplane is revealed to have mysteriously crashed into the farmhouse, destroying the evidence of the murders from the previous night. Brandon's symbol is seen painted on a piece of the plane wreckage.

In a mid-credits scene, Brandon, now identified as Brightburn, is seen from the perspective of news reports and eyewitness footage over the locations of various disasters, such as a building collapse and a wildfire. An online conspiracy theorist posts his own video analyzing the disasters and referencing attacks by other cryptids elsewhere in the world.

Cast Edit

  • Elizabeth Banks as Tori Breyer: Brandon's adoptive mother and Kyle's wife
  • David Denman as Kyle Breyer: Brandon's adoptive father and Tori's husband
  • Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer / Brightburn: a superpowered alien who is adopted by the Breyer family
  • Matt Jones as Noah McNichol: Brandon's uncle and Merilee's husband
  • Meredith Hagner as Merilee McNichol: Tori's sister, Brandon's aunt and Noah's wife who works as Brandon's school counselor
  • Emmie Hunter as Caitlyn Connor: a girl who is scared of Brandon
  • Abraham Clinkscales as Royce: a young boy who bullies Brandon
  • Christian Finlayson as Fauxhawk: one of the kids who bullies Brandon
  • Jennifer Holland as Ms. Espenschied: Brandon's school director
  • Becky Wahlstrom as Erika Connor: Caitlyn's mother who believes Brandon is a menace
  • Gregory Alan Williams as Sheriff Deever: a local sheriff of the small town
  • Anne Humphrey as Deputy Aryes: Deever's partner
  • Steve Agee as EJ
  • Stephen Blackehart as Travis
  • Michael Rooker as the Big T: a conspiracy theory blogger who reports on the super-powered beings

Rainn Wilson cameos in a photograph during the credits as his character Crimson Bolt from producer James Gunn's Super (2010). Mike Dunston, Terence Rosemore, and Elizabeth Becka appear as a gym teacher, a reporter, and Brandon's school principal, respectively.

Production Edit

The film was announced in December 2017, then untitled, with James Gunn as a producer, his brother Brian and cousin Mark writing the script, and David Yarovesky directing.[3] In March 2018, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Meredith Hagner and Matt Jones were cast.[4] Gunn was set to appear on a panel to discuss the project at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2018, but his appearance was canceled after news broke that Disney had fired Gunn as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) due to offensive tweets;[5] Gunn would later be reinstated by that October, with his return publicly revealed in March 2019.[6]

Principal photography began in March 2018 and wrapped in May of that year in the U.S. state of Georgia.[7] The building collapse portion of the mid-credits scene uses footage taken from the real-life demolition of the Sir John Carling Building in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on July 13, 2014.[8] The middle school scenes were shot at the now-defunct Patrick Henry High School in Stockbridge, Georgia, the same location used for both Hawkins Middle and Hawkins High Schools in the Netflix series Stranger Things.[9]

Timothy Williams composed the film's score.

Release Edit

Marketing Edit

There were plans to promote the film at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con in July, but it was pulled at the last minute in the wake of James Gunn's removal from Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios, only for Disney and Marvel to reconcile with Gunn nine months later.[6] On December 8, 2018, the first trailer for Brightburn was released online.

Critics viewed the trailer as an "Ultraman horror movie" due to the intentional similarities to Superman's origin story and as a deconstruction of the character.[10][11] Fast Company stated that "although it's not officially a Superman movie, it walks viewers through every step of Clark Kent's origin story before taking a hard left turn".[12][13]

On April 3, 2019, an art contest was launched after the release of the trailer to promote the film, and had concluded on May 20. The winners of the contest had their artworks used in marketing for the film, and received $2,000.[14] On May 21, 2019, IGN promoted the film by uploading a prank of unsuspecting volunteers with the character Brandon Breyer. It was uploaded to their website and YouTube channel.[15][16]

Another art contest was launched on August 5 to promote the home media release of the film titled "Band with Brightburn". Submissions had to depict other supervillains in reference to the ending scene of the film hinting at other superpowered characters. Actor Jackson A. Dunn was the judge of the contest, and it was sponsored by Collider.[17]

Theatrical Edit

Brightburn was released in the United States on May 24, 2019.[5][18] It was originally scheduled for November 30, 2018.[19]

Home media Edit

The film was released on Digital HD on August 6, 2019, and on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD on August 20, 2019.[20]

In April 2021, Sony signed a deal with Disney giving them access to their legacy content, including Brightburn to stream on Disney+ and Hulu and appear on Disney's linear television networks. Disney's access to Sony's titles would come following their availability on Netflix. Brightburn had previously been available on Starz and FX.[21][22]

Merchandise Edit

In August 2019, it was announced a Halloween costume of Brandon Breyer was going to be sold exclusively by Spirit Halloween in October.[23]

Reception Edit

Box office Edit

Brightburn grossed $17.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $15.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $32.8 million.[2]

In the United States and Canada, Brightburn was released alongside Aladdin and Booksmart, and was projected to gross around $12–16 million from 2,607 theaters in its four-day opening weekend.[24] The film made $3 million on its first day, including $950,000 from Thursday night previews.[25] It ended up underperforming, grossing $7.8 million over three days (and $9.6 million over the four), finishing in fifth.[1] In its second weekend the film made $2.3 million, dropping 70.5% and finishing in ninth.[26]

Critical response Edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 57% based on 209 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads "Although Brightburn doesn't fully deliver on the pitch-black promise of its setup, it's still enough to offer a diverting subversion of the superhero genre."[27] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 44 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[28] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it 2.5 out of 5 stars and a "definite recommend" of 39%.[1][25]

Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter wrote "While not exactly original, the premise is certainly effective enough. But Brightburn lacks the visual stylization or wit to elevate it from the realm of the crudely effective B-movie."[29] James White from Empire wrote "Crossbreeding superhero tropes with horror staples was an idea laden with promise. Brightburn is enlivened by trademark James Gunn black comedy, but hamstrung by sketchy writing and a botched sense of dread."[30]

Alex Arabian from The Playlist wrote "The film is a gem, especially for anyone yearning for a superhero film that gleefully torches the familiar 'good versus evil' formula and introduces far more sinister sensibilities."[31]

Ed Gonzalez from Slant also gave a negative review: "The way the film shuttles through its 90 minutes, it’s as if it’s been stripped of its most crucial narrative parts."[32]

Future Edit

In May 2019, director David Yarovesky stated that upon the film potentially being a success, the universe of Brightburn would be expanded upon.[33] In a later interview with Collider, Yarovesky confirmed that the film's credits making reference to a half-man/half-sea creature terrorizing the seas, Rainn Wilson's character Frank Darbo / The Crimson Bolt from Super, and a powerful witch who chokes her victims with a rope was intended to set up a sequel, in addition noting that an alternate ending to the film featured Emmie Hunter's "Caitlyn—[ending] with her in a lab fastening a robot arm on her broken arm, and her just pissed off", as well as mentioning "tons" of other such endings as having been discussed, as well as stating that "[i]f we were to expand the Brightburn universe in other installments and in other ways, we would probably be doing it in the exact same way, in total secrecy and then drop a cinematic trailer at some point that kind of teases what that new direction may be".[34]

In June 2019, producer James Gunn stated that discussion of a potential sequel was happening, but he was busy writing and directing The Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.[35] In August 2019, Jackson A. Dunn stated in an interview with Screen Rant that he would be interested in reprising his role as Brandon Breyer.[36] In addition, Dunn said he would like to see up-and-coming actors being cast in lead roles in potential future films.[37]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 26, 2019). "'Aladdin' Memorial Day Magic Carpet Ride Soars Higher With $112M+ Opening – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Brightburn (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  3. ^ McNary, Dave (December 14, 2017). "'Guardians of the Galaxy' Director James Gunn to Produce Horror Movie for H Collective". Variety. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  4. ^ Scott, Ryan (March 29, 2018). "James Gunn's New Horror Movie Cast Announced as Shooting Begins". MovieWeb. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  5. ^ a b McNary, Dave (October 8, 2018). "James Gunn's Horror Movie 'BrightBurn' Moved to 2019". Variety. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 15, 2019). "Disney Reinstates Director James Gunn For 'Guardians Of The Galaxy 3'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 15, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  7. ^ Harvey, Dennis (May 22, 2019). "Film Review: 'Brightburn'". Variety. With Georgia standing in for Kansas
  8. ^ "Sir John Carling building demolition carried out". CBC News. July 13, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2023.
  9. ^ admin (February 11, 2022). "Stranger Things School to be Demolished". Rob on Location. Retrieved July 17, 2023.
  10. ^ Kreps, Daniel (December 8, 2018). "'Brightburn': See Terrifying Trailer for James Gunn's 'Superhero Horror' Film". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  11. ^ S. Good, Owen (December 8, 2018). "James Gunn's Brightburn looks like Superman as a horror story". Polygon.
  12. ^ Berkowitz, Joe (December 10, 2018). ""What if Superman was an evil kid?" asks this creepy-as-hell movie trailer". Fast Company. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  13. ^ Gogoi, Pallav. "The Dark Side of Superman - James Gunn's Brightburn adds an Evil Twist to DC's Most Powerful Superhero". Archived from the original on September 26, 2019. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "Create artwork inspired by Brightburn and the birth of a new genre: Superhero Horror". Talenthouse.
  15. ^ "Brightburn IRL! Best Prank Reactions - IGN". May 21, 2019 – via
  16. ^ "Brightburn IRL! Best Prank Reactions" – via
  17. ^ Rocha, John (August 5, 2019). "'Brightburn' Launches New Fan Art Contest Featuring Jackson A. Dunn". Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  18. ^ Couch, Aaron; McClintock, Pamela (October 8, 2018). "Sony Pushes Back James Gunn Horror Movie to 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  19. ^ Busch, Anita (March 7, 2018). "Elizabeth Banks And James Gunn Reunite For Horror Picture". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  20. ^ McCrae, Phil. "Brightburn DVD Release Date". Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  21. ^ Hayes, Dade (April 21, 2021). "Disney And Sony Reach Windows Deal That Can Sling 'Spider-Man' To Disney+ For First Time, Along With Reach Across Hulu, ABC, FX & More". Deadline. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  22. ^ Couch, Aaron (April 21, 2021). "Sony Films Will Move to Disney After Netflix Window Expires". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  23. ^ Squires, John (August 13, 2019). "Spirit Halloween is Selling a Really Cool 'Brightburn' Halloween Costume for Kids This Year".
  24. ^ Fuster, Jeremy (May 21, 2019). "Will 'Aladdin' Dodge the 'Blue Will Smith' Jokes and Find Box Office Riches?". TheWrap. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  25. ^ a b Brevet, Brett (May 26, 2019). "Disney's 'Aladdin' Soars Over Memorial Day Weekend at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  26. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 2, 2019). "'Godzilla' Loses Teeth With $49M Opening, But Counter-Programming Excels For First Time This Summer With 'Rocketman' & 'Ma'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  27. ^ "Brightburn (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  28. ^ "Brightburn Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  29. ^ Frank Scheck (May 22, 2019). "'Brightburn': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  30. ^ James White (June 17, 2019). "Brightburn". Empire (film magazine). Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  31. ^ Alex Arabian. "'Brightburn' Terrorizes With Gleeful Gore As An Allegory For The Hypocrisy Of The American Way [Review]". The Playlist.
  32. ^ Gonzalez, Ed (May 22, 2019). "Review: Brightburn Is a Soulless Mishmash of Disparate Genre Elements". Slant Magazine.
  33. ^ Lewis, Evan (May 24, 2019). "Brightburn Director Teases Possible Sequels, Says They'll Be A Surprise". We Got This Covered. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  34. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (May 26, 2019). "'Brightburn' Director on That Ending and the Alternate Credits Scene That Could Have Been". Collider. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  35. ^ Collis, Clark (June 6, 2019). "James Gunn is 'talking' about Brightburn sequel". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  36. ^ Wojnar, Zak (August 19, 2019). "Jackson A. Dunn Interview: Brightburn". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  37. ^ Wojnar, Zak (August 17, 2019). "Brightburn Star Wants New Actors For Sequel Villains". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 28, 2019.

External links Edit