In 1971, twenty-four male students are selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.


Tim Talbott, Philip Zimbardo (based on the book "The Lucifer Effect")
2,788 ( 228)
4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Crudup ... Dr. Philip Zimbardo
Michael Angarano ... Christopher Archer
Moises Arias ... Anthony Carroll
Nicholas Braun ... Karl Vandy
Gaius Charles ... Paul Vogel
Keir Gilchrist ... John Lovett
Ki Hong Lee ... Gavin Lee / 3401
Thomas Mann ... Prisoner 416
Ezra Miller ... Daniel Culp / 8612
Logan Miller ... Jerry Sherman / 5486
Tye Sheridan ... Peter Mitchell / 819
Johnny Simmons ... Jeff Jansen / 1037
James Wolk ... Mike Penny
Nelsan Ellis ... Jesse Fletcher
Olivia Thirlby ... Dr. Christina Maslach


In 1971, twenty-four male students are selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They were given 2 weeks. It lasted 6 days.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including abusive behavior and some sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The project was first announced in 2006 with Christopher McQuarrie attached to write and direct. See more »


A guard incorrectly attributes the now instantly recognizable walk of the Frankenstein Monster to his first appearance in the 1931 film Frankenstein. The Monster didn't walk with his arms outstretched in front of him until Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, over a decade later. See more »


Jesse Fletcher: You brought me here to legitimize this experiment and there's nothing legitimate about this place, Phil.
Dr. Philip Zimbardo: You're right. You're right. I didn't explain it well. Prisons, they represent a loss of freedom, literally and symbolically.
Jesse Fletcher: Yeah, but that does not explain why they're wearing dresses. They're wearing dresses, Phil.
Dr. Philip Zimbardo: Yes, I understand. Uh, we're trying to strip away their individuality. Make them uniform. Feminize them.
Jesse Fletcher: Feminize them?
Dr. Philip Zimbardo: Yes. Feminize them. Take away all the things that make them ...
See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: At the Earth's Core (2017) See more »

User Reviews

Admittedly conflicted
20 October 2018 | by chiguy17See all my reviews

I have to admit that my rating is conflicted between the quality of the film (the caliber of the acting and directing), and the enjoyment/watchability of the film itself. It was superbly acted and directed - exhibited by the fact that recognizable actors blended seamlessly with their characters and eliciting sincere feelings of contempt and sympathy. However, it was not an easy film to watch. Again, I think that's a testament to the talent of the artists involved.

I do think it should be required viewing for psychology students - unfortunately this film was released after my college years.

As another reviewer stated, I really would have liked to have seen more about the final repercussions: how it affected the participants once the study was over (one would imagine some could have been left with PTSD, if only short term). In fact the film was so immersive and believable that I wondered if any of the actors fell victim to the same tendencies as the original participants and got a little lost in their roles.

I had to go online to see if there were any legal or professional repercussions for Dr. Philip Zimbardo or any of the other parties involved. The post-notes at the end of the film could have been a bit more comprehensive, as I believe there were certain practices/rules put in place for psychological studies as a direct result of this experiment (among them being the establishment of the National Research Act as well as the creation of the Institutional Review Board).

So, yes, I would definitely recommend watching this movie with the caveat that you're not going to be left feeling upbeat or warm and fuzzy.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

17 July 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Stanford Prison Experiment Project See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$37,514, 19 July 2015

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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