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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 327,899 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


Change one thing, Change everything. 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?


In early versions of the script, the character of Evan was originally Chris Treborn. When the "T" is moved over, it becomes "Christ Reborn". This was changed to Evan Treborn, which is a play on "Event Reborn". See more »


In the theatrical ending, Evan still has multiple journals though he has never met Kayleigh. Dr. Redfield suggested that Evan start keeping journals after his mysterious drawing in class and not after his incident with Kayleigh and Tommy's father. After the incident, Dr. Redfield suggested that he meet his father - not keep his journals. It's not unreasonable that he committed to keeping journals years after Dr. Redfield asked him to (hence his interest in psychology). Though the books would have been completely different, Evan's burning of them was symbolic and not literal. 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 This Ain't Star Trek XXX 2: The Butterfly Effect (2010) 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

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.

270 of 367 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Bluray boxset .... ORIGINAL ENDING RESTORED BalboasBoy
Why was he in a wheelchair? CountCagliostro
Directors cut ending was so much better than the theatrical ending. Humanity_Youve_Failed
The other miscarriages lovorlie
Weird question natashiaquinn
The Butterfly Effect Temporal Analysis recovered and restored mjyoung-2
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