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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 332,783 users   Metascore: 30/100
Reviews: 1,093 user | 182 critic | 35 from Metacritic.com

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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1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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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


Das Ende ist erst der Anfang (The end is only the beginning.) 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?


All of the prison scenes were filmed in a real prison (Washington State) with real prisoners. See more »


When Evan first reads the journal entry about his childhood "movie" the writing on the page has random words scratched out. When the words are shown close up, the scratches are gone. 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 »


Referenced in Still Waiting... (2009) See more »


My Elastic Eye
Written by Tom Rowlands, Ed Simons and Le Baron (as Bernard Estardy)
Performed by The Chemical Brothers
Courtesy of Virgin Astralwerks Records
Under license from EMI & TV Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Much Better Movie Than You Would Suspect...
21 November 2004 | by (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – See all my reviews



Now normally I tend to prefer movies that let the writer/director tell the story that they want to without having to water it down for mass consumption. In this case I have to say that the ending they they were forced to re-shoot for the theatrical release of this movie is a much more emotional, resonant and appropriate ending than the bleak, cold and grotesque finale they had originally planned. On the US DVDs you get the choice of which version to see (foreign editions only have the less compelling director's version)... so North American viewers can make up their own mind about which ending they prefer. I would suggest watching the theatrical cut first... and then check out the director's cut... which would you prefer to think of as the "real" ending?

As for the movie itself... don't be put off by the idea of Ashton Kutcher in the lead role. He does quite a good job in a serious part quite different from his usual TV persona. He plays a college student who, having been plagued by mental blackouts all his life, devotes himself to the study of human memory. Eventually he finds that by re-reading old journal entries he can will himself back in time to experience the events he had blacked out... and even CHANGE THEM using the knowledge that his older self possesses. Unfortunately one small change in the past causes some HUGE ramifications in his present day world. Can't say too much more about the plot without giving away the many fun surprises. Believable performances and a basic seriousness give the film an urgency that is sometimes missing in modern fantasy films of this type.

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