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Donnie Darko
A collage of faces, in the shape of a head with rabbit ears.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Kelly
Produced by
Written byRichard Kelly
Music byMichael Andrews
CinematographySteven Poster
Edited by
  • Sam Bauer
  • Eric Strand
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 19, 2001 (2001-01-19) (Sundance)
  • October 26, 2001 (2001-10-26) (United States)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$4.5 million[2]
Box office$7.5 million[3]

Donnie Darko is a 2001 American science fiction psychological thriller film written and directed by Richard Kelly and produced by Flower Films. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonnell, Katharine Ross, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, Stu Stone, Daveigh Chase, and James Duval. Set in October 1988, the film follows Donnie Darko, a troubled teenager who narrowly escapes a bizarre accident and has visions of Frank, a mysterious figure in a rabbit costume who informs him that the world will end in 28 days. Frank begins to manipulate Donnie to commit several crimes.

Development began in late 1997 when Kelly had graduated from film school and started writing scripts. He took an early idea of a jet engine falling onto a house with no one knowing its origin and built the story around it. Kelly insisted on directing the film himself and struggled to secure backing from producers until 2000, when Drew Barrymore's Flower Films agreed to produce it on a $4.5 million budget. Filming took 28 days in the summer of 2000, mostly in California. The soundtrack features a cover of "Mad World" by Tears for Fears by American musicians Gary Jules and Michael Andrews, which went to No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks.[4]

The film premiered on January 19, 2001 at the Sundance Film Festival, followed by a limited theatrical release on October 26. Due to the film's advertising featuring a crashing plane and the September 11 attacks that transpired a month before, it was scarcely advertised which affected its box office performance, grossing just $7.5 million worldwide.[3] Despite this, Donnie Darko received positive reviews and was listed No. 2 in Empire's "50 Greatest Independent Films of All Time",[5] and No. 53 in Empire's "500 Greatest Movies of All Time".[6] In March 2002, the film was released on home video where it grossed over $500,000 in sales and gained a cult following.[7] Kelly released Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut in 2004.[8] The film was adapted into a stage production in 2007 and a sequel, S. Darko, followed in 2009 without Kelly's involvement. In 2021, he announced that work on a new sequel is in progress.

  1. ^ "Donnie Darko". British Board of Film Classification. May 13, 2001. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  2. ^ Richard Kelly (director) (2004). Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut (DVD).
  3. ^ a b "Donnie Darko". The Numbers. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
  4. ^ "IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD!". NME. January 4, 2004.
  5. ^ "50 Greatest Independent Films of All Time". Archived from the original on April 28, 2006. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  6. ^ "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time". Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  7. ^ Scott Tobias (February 21, 2008). "The New Cult Canon: Donnie Darko". The A.V. Club. The Onion.
  8. ^ "Donnie Darko (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
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