Arrival (film)

For the 1996 science fiction film, see The Arrival (1996 film)

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 Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • September 1, 2016 (2016-09-01) (Venice)
  • 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 $105.2 million[3]

Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer, based on the 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 on November 11, 2016, in IMAX by Paramount Pictures. Critics praised the film for its story and atmosphere, and Adams for her performance. It has grossed $105 million worldwide.


The film begins with a sequence of linguist Louise Banks with her daughter, who dies during childhood from cancer.

Twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear across the Earth. Louise is asked by US Army Colonel Weber to join a team to find out why they have come. Accompanied by theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly, Louise makes contact with two seven-limbed cephalopod-like aliens, which they call "heptapods", and Ian nicknames Abbott and Costello. Louise discovers that the aliens use a written language of complicated circular symbols. They begin to learn the symbols that correspond to a basic vocabulary. As Louise becomes more proficient in the language, she starts to see images of herself with her daughter.

When Louise is able to ask what the aliens want, they answer: "offer weapon". Similar translations ("use weapon") are deduced at other sites, leading other nations to close down communications, and some to scramble their military believing the message indicates a threat. However, Louise thinks that "weapon" might have an alternative translation such as "tool".

Rogue soldiers plant explosives in the spacecraft. Unaware, Louise and Ian go back inside, where the aliens display an image of hundreds of smaller symbols. Costello leaves just before the device explodes, but Abbott stays and pushes Louise and Ian out of the chamber. They both wake up in the base camp with a concussion, as the spacecraft moves higher into the sky. Ian works out that the pattern of symbols relates to the concept of time, and that it was one twelfth of the whole "gift"; hence nations must co-operate to get all of the information.

Meanwhile, the Chinese prepare to attack their spacecraft. 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. Louise asks about her visions, and Costello explains that she is seeing the future: this reveals that her "visions" are not flashbacks but flash-forwards. Costello communicates that they have come to "help humanity" by sharing their language, which changes the perception of time, and is the "weapon" or "tool" they offer. The aliens also foresee that in 3000 years time they will need humanity's help.

Louise returns as the camp is being evacuated, and has a new vision of being at a United Nations party to commemorate the alien visit. She sees herself being thanked by Chinese General Shang for convincing him to suspend his attack. Shang explains that she had called his private mobile number, which he then shows her. He says he feels it is important to show her his number, but he does not understand why. Back in the present, Louise steals a satellite phone and calls Shang, but realizes that, although she speaks Mandarin, she doesn't know what to say. Her future vision continues with Shang explaining that she had convinced him by repeating his wife's last words, which he tells to Louise. After the Chinese attack is called off, the other nations resume contact with each other, and the twelve spacecraft leave the Earth.

When packing to leave, Ian admits his love for Louise. The film closes as they discuss life choices and whether they should change if you could see the future. Louise sees a vision of Ian as the father of her daughter. Her vision continues with Ian asking her, further into the future, if she wants to make a baby. Louise sees herself replying "Yes," wanting to share a short time with her future child rather than prevent her from ever existing.



Villeneuve had wanted to make a science fiction film for some time, although he "never found the right thing".[5] Meanwhile screenwriter Eric Heisserer had unsuccessfully been pitching an adaptation of "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.[6] 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 properly to adapt it into a screenplay.[5] Cohen and Levine were able to get a first draft completed, which Villeneuve later reworked into a finished script.[5] 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".[5] Although Villeneuve remembered going through "hundreds" of possible titles, the eventual title was the first one the team had suggested.[5]

Jeremy Renner joined the film on March 6, 2015 to play a physics professor.[7] Forest Whitaker signed in April 2015, with Michael Stuhlbarg joining as CIA Agent Halpern that June.[8][9] McGill University linguistics professor Dr. Jessica Coon was brought on to consult with Amy Adams.[10]

Filming began in mid-June 2015, right after Renner completed Captain America: Civil War.[7] Principal photography on the film began on June 7, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[11][12]

The language was designed by artist Martine Bertrand (wife of the Production Designer Patrice Vermette), based on the scriptwriter's original concept. Stephen Wolfram and Christopher Wolfram analysed it to provide the basis for Louise's work in the film.[13]


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.[14] The film also uses the piece "On the Nature of Daylight" by composer Max Richter to open and close the movie.


A teaser trailer was released in August 2016, followed the next week by the first official trailer.[15] 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.[16]

In May 2014, Paramount Pictures acquired U.S and Canada distribution rights.[17] Shortly after, Sony Pictures and Stage 6 Films acquired the international distribution rights.[18] The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2016.[19] It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival,[20][21] Telluride Film Festival,[22] and the BFI London Film Festival.[23] The film was released on November 11, 2016.[24][25]


Box office

As of December 4, 2016, Arrival has grossed $73.1 million in the United States and Canada and $32.2 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $105.2 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, finishing third at the box office.[26] 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%).[27]

Critical response

Arrival received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 93%, based on 258 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."[28] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average to reviews, the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[30]

Brian Tallerico, from, gave the film 3 out of 4: "It's a movie designed to simultaneously challenge viewers, move them and get them talking. For the most part, it succeeds."[31] 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."[32] IGN reviewer Chris Tilly gave the film 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."[33]

British film critic Robbie Collin gave it 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."[34]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Camerimage November 19, 2016 Silver Frog Award for Best Cinematography Bradford Young Won [35]
Critics' Choice Awards December 11, 2016 Best Picture Arrival Pending [36]
Best Director Denis Villeneuve Pending
Best Actress Amy Adams Pending
Best Adapted Screenplay Eric Heisserer Pending
Best Cinematography Bradford Young Pending
Best Art Direction Paul Hotte, André Valade and Patrice Vermette Pending
Best Editing Joe Walker Pending
Best Visual Effects Arrival Pending
Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie Arrival Pending
Best Score Jóhann Jóhannsson Pending
Evening Standard British Film Awards December 8, 2016 Technical Achievement Max Richter (music) Pending [37]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 17, 2016 Best Original Score – Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Jóhann Jóhannsson Nominated [38][39]
National Board of Review January 4, 2017 Top 10 Films Arrival Won [40]
Best Actress Amy Adams Won
Venice Film Festival September 10, 2016 Future Film Festival Digital Award Denis Villeneuve Won [41]
Golden Lion Denis Villeneuve Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association December 5, 2016 Best Film Arrival Pending [42]
Best Director Denis Villeneuve Pending
Best Actress Amy Adams Pending
Best Adapted Screenplay Eric Heisserer Pending
Best Art Direction Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte Pending
Best Cinematography Bradford Young Pending
Best Editing Joe Walker Pending
Best Score Jóhann Jóhannsson Pending

See also


  1. "Arrival (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  2. 1 2 "'Doctor Strange' to hold off 'Arrival' and 'Almost Christmas' at the box office". Los Angeles Times.
  3. 1 2 3 "Arrival (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  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. 1 2 3 4 5 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.
  6. Calia, Michael. "A New Story in Sci-Fi Writer Ted Chiang's Life: Hollywood". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  7. 1 2 Kit, Borys (March 6, 2015). "Jeremy Renner Joins Amy Adams in Sci-Fi 'Story of Your Life' (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  8. Kroll, Justin (April 1, 2015). "Forest Whitaker Eyes 'Story of Your Life' With Amy Adams (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  9. White, James (June 17, 2015). "Michael Stuhlbarg Joins Story Of Your Life". Empireonline. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  10. "Sloan Science & Film". Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  11. "On the Set for 6/8/15: Paul Feig & Melissa Mccarthy Start Shooting Ghostbusters, Ryan Reynolds Finishes Off Deadpool & More". June 8, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  12. "Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner spotted in Montreal as Hollywood filming heats up". Montreal Gazette. June 7, 2015.
  13. How Arrival's Designers Crafted a Mesmerizing Language, Margaret Rhodes, Wired, November 16, 2016.
  14. Weintraub, Steve (October 26, 2016). "Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson on 'Arrival', Preparing to Score 'Blade Runner 2049', and More". (Complex Media). Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  15. Sharf, Zack. "'Arrival' Official Trailer: Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve Make Alien Contact In Ambitious Sci-Fi Drama". Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  16. "Hong Kong outrage at 'Arrival' poster skyline blunder". BBC. August 19, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  17. "Cannes: Paramount Confirms 'Story Of Your Life' Acquisition; $20 Million Is Fest Record Deal". Deadline. May 14, 2014.
  18. 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.
  19. Vivarelli, Nick (July 21, 2016). "Tom Ford's 'Nocturnal Animals,' Villeneuve's 'Arrival,' new Kusturica Headed for Venice (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  20. 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.
  21. "Arrival". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  22. Hammond, Pete (September 1, 2016). "Telluride Film Festival Lineup: 'Sully', 'La La Land', 'Arrival', 'Bleed For This' & More". Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  23. "Arrival". BFI London Film Festival. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  24. "Denis Villeneuve's 'Story of Your Life' Gets Possible New Title, UK Release Date".
  25. Hipes, Patrick (June 16, 2016). "Paramount Dates Its Splashy Amy Adams Sci-Fi Tale 'Arrival' For Awards Season". Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  26. "'Doctor Strange' Repeats at #1 as 'Arrival', 'Almost Christmas' & 'Shut In' Hit Theaters". Box Office Mojo.
  27. D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 24, 2016). "'Moana' Rings Up $81M+ & Ranks As 2nd Best Thanksgiving Debut After 'Frozen'". Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  28. "Arrival (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  29. "Arrival Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  30. "CinemaScore".
  31. "Arrival Movie Review & Film Summary (2016)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  32. "Review: 'Arrival,' Starring Amy Adams, Is One of the Best of the Year". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  33. Chris Tilly (September 26, 2016). "Arrival Review". IGN. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  34. "Arrival review: dazzling science-fiction that will leave you speechless". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  35. "Camerimage 2016 Main Competition Line-up!". Camerimage. October 24, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  36. "La La Land Leads with 12 Nominations for the 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards". Critics' Choice. December 1, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  37. Moore, William (November 17, 2016). "Evening Standard British Film Awards - The Longlist". London Evening Standard. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  38. "Justin Timberlake & Alexandre Desplat Among Winners At Hollywood Music In Media Awards". Deadline. November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  39. McNary, Dave (November 2, 2016). "'La La Land' Scores Three Hollywood Music in Media Nominations". Variety. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  40. "National Board of Review Announces 2016 Award Winners". National Board of Review. November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  41. "Venice Film Festival: Golden Lion To 'The Woman Who Left'; Tom Ford's 'Nocturnal Animals', Emma Stone Take Major Prizes – Full List". September 11, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  42. "The 2016 WAFCA Awards Nominations". December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2016.

External links

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