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The Butterfly Effect (2004)

R  |   |  Sci-Fi, Thriller  |  23 January 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 328,007 users   Metascore: 30/100
Reviews: 1,085 user | 182 critic | 35 from

A young man blocks out harmful memories of significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kayleigh at 13 (as Irene Gorovaia)
Sarah Widdows ...
Jake Kaese ...


Evan Treborn grows up in a small town with his single, working mother and his friends. He suffers from memory blackouts where he suddenly finds himself somewhere else, confused. Evan's friends and mother hardly believe him, thinking he makes it up just to get out of trouble. As Evan grows up he has fewer of these blackouts until he seems to have recovered. Since the age of seven he has written a diary of his blackout moments so he can remember what happens. One day at college he starts to read one of his old diaries, and suddenly a flashback hits him like a brick! Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Such minor changes, such huge consequences. See more »


Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El efecto mariposa  »

Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$17,065,227 (USA) (23 January 2004)


$143,748 (Japan) (13 May 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Elden Henson shot all of the later "normal" scenes with his character first because he had to gain around twenty pounds in one month for the later timelines in which his character is crazy. He was to look bigger as crazy Lenny and thinner as normal Lenny. To the filmmaker's amazement he accomplished this. See more »


The note reading "I'LL COME BACK FOR YOU" changes. Note the break between the top stroke of the I in I'LL and the apostrophe and no break in the bottom of the B of BACK the first time we see the note. When we see the note in Kayleigh's grave there is no break on the top stroke of the I and there is a break in the bottom of the B. There is also no red margin at the top of the first note. This of course assumes the note put onto the grave is not symbolic, in that, he had kept the original rather than the deeper symbolism of how, for Evan, the entire story is about going back for Kayleigh. See more »


[first lines]
[reading aloud as he writes a note]
Evan: If anyone finds this, it means my plan didn't work and I'm already dead. But if I can somehow go back to the beginning of all of this, I might be able to save her.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title, "The Butterfly Effect," is superimposed over a depiction of a butterfly beating its wings, which is itself superimposed upon an X-ray profile of a human brain. See more »


References Back to the Future (1985) See more »


The Midnight Creep
Written by Jon Spencer (as Spencer) / The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (as Explosion)
Performed by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Courtesy of Matador Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Haunting, Tragic, but ultimately Brilliant
25 January 2004 | by (Vancouver, BC) – See all my reviews

I have seen this movie just a few hours ago and i have to say that it is brilliantly conceived. Definately not a feel good film, but rather dark and tragic in every sense of the word. Yes the performances were above and beyond etc etc... and it helped, but the film itself is an emotionally provacative piece of work that had me feeling sad, morose and depressed. Nonetheless i think that this makes it a very powerful film to evoke such strong feelings while watching it. It is, for lack of a better term, very human. On a different note there were also many complexities to do with chaos theory inderlying the raw emotional turmoil that the characters endure such as time travel, alternate universes and such, but rather than rely on these interesting ideas and theories to carry the movie, it is instead simply used as a background setting for an incredible story. I loved it for what it is, but not something you see to be entertained. See this movie but don't take your family.

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Bluray boxset .... ORIGINAL ENDING RESTORED BalboasBoy
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Directors cut ending was so much better than the theatrical ending. Humanity_Youve_Failed
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The Butterfly Effect Temporal Analysis recovered and restored mjyoung-2
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