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Bolt (2008 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Williams
Byron Howard
Produced by Clark Spencer
John Lasseter
Screenplay by Dan Fogelman
Chris Williams
Starring John Travolta
Susie Essman
Mark Walton
Miley Cyrus
Music by John Powell
Edited by Tim Mertens
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • November 21, 2008 (2008-11-21)
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1]
Box office $310 million[1]

Bolt is a 2008 American computer-animated adventure/action comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, released by Walt Disney Pictures, and the studio's 48th animated feature. It is the first film directed by Chris Williams and Byron Howard. The film stars the voices of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Malcolm McDowell, Diedrich Bader, Nick Swardson, Greg Germann, Susie Essman and Mark Walton. The film's plot centers on a small white dog named Bolt who, having spent his entire life on the set of a television series, thinks that he has super powers. When he believes that his human, Penny, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a cross-country journey to "rescue" her.

Despite a relatively marginal box-office performance, Bolt received a strong positive reception and is renowned for playing an important role in instigating what is widely referred to as the New Disney Renaissance as well as setting the studio in a new creative direction that would lead to other critically acclaimed features such as Tangled and Frozen. Bolt was also Disney Animation's first feature film to be produced under the complete creative guidance of John Lasseter, as well as the first computer-animated feature film to implement non-photorealistic rendering.

The film was nominated for a series of awards, such as the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which it lost to WALL-E.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Development 3.1
    • Animation 3.2
  • Music 4
  • Release 5
    • Home media 5.1
  • Reception 6
    • Critical reception 6.1
    • Box office 6.2
    • Award nominations 6.3
  • Video games 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


A dog named Bolt (John Travolta) and a girl named Penny (Miley Cyrus) star on a hit television series called Bolt in which the titular character has various superpowers and must constantly thwart the evil plans of the nefarious Doctor Calico (Malcolm McDowell). To gain a more realistic performance, the TV show's producers have deceived Bolt his entire life, arranging the filming in such a way that Bolt believes the television show is real and he really has superpowers, including a powerful sonic scream-like "superbark". Mistakenly believing Penny has been kidnapped by the villain, Bolt escapes from his on-set trailer in Hollywood but falls into a box of foam peanuts and unknown to the film company is accidentally shipped to New York City. In New York, Bolt starts to notice that his "superpowers" aren't working, and rationalizes this is the effect that styrofoam has on his body. He then meets Mittens (Susie Essman), a female alley cat who bullies pigeons out of their food. Bolt forces Mittens to help him get back to Hollywood, and after Bolt knocks Mittens unconscious the two start their journey westward on a truck. In Hollywood, Penny is deeply saddened over Bolt's disappearance but is convinced by the studio to continue filming with a Bolt lookalike.

Surprised at his first feelings of hunger, Bolt is shown by Mittens how to act like a cute, but needy dog, and is rewarded by food for the both of them at a nearby RV park, where they meet Rhino (Mark Walton), a fearless, TV-obsessed hamster and Bolt fan who joins their team. Rhino’s unwavering faith in Bolt substantiates the dog’s illusions about his superpowers, but Mittens, who has learned that Bolt is from a television show, tries to convince Bolt that his superpowers aren't real. Bolt refuses to listen to Mittens, and instead becomes frustrated and attempts to "superbark" her repeatedly. The noise attracts Animal Control, who captures them both and transports them to an animal shelter. After being freed en route by Rhino, Bolt finally realizes that he is just a normal dog, but regains his confidence after Rhino (oblivious to this revelation) gives him a pep talk. They rescue Mittens from the shelter and escape, allowing them to continue their journey. Along the way, Mittens helps Bolt through his identity crisis by teaching him typical dog activities (such as hanging his head out car windows and chasing sticks), but Mittens refuses to go farther than Las Vegas. She tells Bolt that his Hollywood life is fake and there is no real love for him there. Her emotional rant reveals that she was once a house cat, but was abandoned by her previous owner and left to brave the harsh streets alone and declawed. Bolt refuses to believe that Penny doesn't love him, and continues on alone, wishing Mittens the best. Rhino, learning of Bolt's departure, convinces Mittens that they must help him, and the two set off to find Bolt once again.

Bolt reaches the studio and finds Penny embracing his lookalike. Unaware that Penny still misses him and that her affection for the lookalike is only a part of a rehearsal for the show, he leaves, brokenhearted. Mittens, on a gantry in the studio, sees what Bolt does not: Penny telling her mother how much she misses Bolt. Realizing that Penny truly does love Bolt, Mittens follows Bolt and explains. At the same time, the Bolt-lookalike panics during the show's filming and accidentally knocks over some flaming torches, setting the sound stage on fire with Penny trapped inside. Bolt arrives and reunites with Penny inside the burning studio, but they cannot get out. In desperation, and unwilling to abandon Penny, Bolt uses his "superbark". The firefighters hear the noise through the building's air vent and manage to rescue them before they succumb to smoke inhalation.

Penny and her mother subsequently quit the show when their agent attempts to exploit the incident for publicity purposes. Penny herself adopts Mittens and Rhino, and she and her family move to a rural home to enjoy a simpler, happy lifestyle with Bolt and her new pets. The show continues, but with a replacement "Bolt" and "Penny" – "Penny's" new appearance being explained in the show as being serious injuries necessitating her undergoing facial reconstruction surgery, and adopting a new storyline about alien abduction (one that even Rhino finds unrealistic, and Bolt finds "ridonculous"). The epilogue scenes during the credits show Bolt, Penny, her mother, Mittens, and Rhino enjoying their new life together.




At first, the film was going to be titled American Dog, and was written and directed by Chris Sanders. Eventually, Sanders was removed from the project and replaced by Chris Williams and Byron Howard.[2] The film's previous plot told the story of a dog named Henry, a famous TV star, who one day finds himself stranded in the Nevada desert with a testy, one-eyed cat and an oversized, radioactive rabbit who are themselves searching for new homes, all the while believing he is still on television. In 2006, after becoming Chief Creative Officer at Disney, John Lasseter along with other directors from Pixar and Disney viewed a couple of early cuts of the film and gave Chris Sanders notes on how to improve the story. According to Lasseter, Chris Sanders was replaced because Sanders resisted the changes that Lasseter and the other directors had suggested. Lasseter was quoted as saying "Chris Sanders is extremely talented, but he couldn't take it to the place it had to be."[3] After Sanders left and the original title was removed, the animation team was told to complete the filming in just 18 months instead of the usual four years that is normally required to produce a computer-animated feature.[4] On June 8, 2007, Disney announced that the film, now under its current name, would be released on November 21, 2008 in Disney Digital 3-D.[5][6]


The look of the film was inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and the cinematography of Vilmos Zsigmond.[7] New technology in non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) was used to give it a special visual appearance, a technique also used in the 2010 release Tangled. To give the film's 3D backgrounds a hand-painted look, the company artists used new patented technology designed specifically for the film.[8]

Bolt's characteristics are based on an amalgam of breeds, although the designers started with the American White Shepherd.[9] Joe Moshier, lead character designer, said, "they American White Shepherds have really long ears, a trait that I tried to caricature in order to allow the animators to emphasize Bolt's expressiveness."[9]

The design of Rhino in his plastic ball was based on executive producer John Lasseter's pet chinchilla, which was brought to an animators' retreat during the film's production.[10]


Soundtrack album by John Powell
Released November 25, 2008 (2008-11-25)
Genre Score
Length 36:59
Label Walt Disney
Walt Disney Animation Studios chronology
Meet the Robinsons
The Princess and the Frog: Original Songs and Score

The score to Bolt was composed by John Powell.[11] The soundtrack featured the film's score and two original songs – "I Thought I Lost You" by Bolt's stars Miley Cyrus and John Travolta (nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song on 2009) as well as "Barking at the Moon" by Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis.[11] The soundtrack was released on November 18, 2008.[12]

Although Motörhead has a song in the film, they do not seem to appear in either the soundtrack or the score. Motörhead's song, "Dog-Face Boy" (from their Sacrifice album) is in a mailroom scene where a young worker is listening to it on his headphones and inadvertently wraps Bolt up in a box that gets shipped off to New York City.[13]

Track listing:

All music composed by John Powell, except as noted.
No. Title Artist Length
1. "I Thought I Lost You"   Miley Cyrus & John Travolta 3:36
2. "Barking at the Moon"   Jenny Lewis 3:17
3. "Meet Bolt"     1:49
4. "Bolt Transforms"     1:00
5. "Scooter Chase"     2:29
6. "New York"     1:44
7. "Meet Mittens"     1:25
8. "The RV Park"     2:14
9. "A Fast Train"     2:38
10. "Where Were You on St. Rhino's Day?"     1:58
11. "Sing-Along Rhino"     0:42
12. "Saving Mittens"     1:02
13. "House on Wheels"     3:07
14. "Las Vegas"     2:01
15. "A Friend in Need"     1:13
16. "Rescuing Penny"     3:09
17. "A Real Life Superbark"     0:46
18. "Unbelievable TV"     1:20
19. "Home at Last/Barking at the Moon (Reprise)"   Jenny Lewis 1:29
Total length:


Bolt was theatrically released in the United States on November 21, 2008. Beginning in its fourth week in theaters, the film was accompanied by Pixar's Cars Toons short Tokyo Mater.[14]

Home media

Bolt was released on Region A Blu-ray Disc in the United States on March 22, 2009. The BD set included standard DVD and digital copy versions of the film. Single-disc DVD and Special Edition DVD with Digital Copy versions followed in Region 1 on March 24.[15] This marked the first time a major home-video release debuted on Blu-ray Disc before DVD.[16] Bolt was released on both Blu-ray and DVD in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2009.[17][18]

A short film called Super Rhino is included in the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film.[19] The DVD has sold 4,581,755 copies, generating $81.01 million in sales as of December 31, 2009.[20] The 3D Blu-ray version of the film was released in November 2010, in France[21] and UK.[22] A month later it was released worldwide, exclusively to select Sony TVs.[23][24] In US, it was released on November 8, 2011.[25]


Critical reception

Bolt received mostly positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 88% of critics gave positive reviews based on 178 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "Bolt is a pleasant animated comedy that overcomes the story's familiarity with strong visuals and likable characters."[26] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave the film a 67/100 approval rating based on 29 reviews following under the category "generally favorable reviews".[27]

Perry Seibert of TV Guide gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and wrote the film "amuses both those who make up the film's target audience and the parents along for the ride. This winning mix of exciting action, heart-tugging sentiment, and gentle character comedy makes Bolt yet another solid addition to Disney's history of family-friendly fare."[28] Tasha Robinson of the A.V. Club gave the film a B+ stating that "Bolt is the studio's first film since Lilo & Stitch that feels like it's trying to recapture the old Disney instead of aggressively shedding it in favor of something slick and new. And yet it comes with a healthy cutting-edge Pixar flavor as well."[29] Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times wrote that "[Bolt] also has an intriguing plot that is kind of the family animation version of the Jim Carrey-starring The Truman Show."[30]

Box office

On its opening weekend, the film opened number 3 with $26,223,128 behind Twilight and Quantum of Solace.[31] On its second weekend, it rose to No. 2 behind Four Christmases with a 1.4% increase.[32] In the United States and Canada, the film grossed $114,053,579 by its closing date on February 22, 2009.[33] An additional $195,926,415 was made internationally as of January 2, 2011, for a worldwide total of $309,979,994.[1][34]

Award nominations

Bolt was nominated for the following awards:[35]

Video games

Disney Interactive Studios produced a video game based on the film, released in November 2008 for Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.[36] The game focuses on Bolt's fake TV life, not the actual storyline.[37] A separate game was released for mobile phones,[38] and a third game, RhinoBall, was released as an application on Apple's App Store.[39]


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  2. ^ Amidi, Amid (February 7, 2007). "Toy Story 3 and American Dog News".  
  3. ^ Holson, Laura M. (March 4, 2007). "He Runs That Mickey Mouse Outfit". New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2007. 
  4. ^ Sanders, Peter (October 27, 2008). "Disney Learns Lessons From Pixar". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Bolt"Coming to Theaters – . June 8, 2007. Retrieved June 10, 2007. 
  6. ^ Garth Franklin (June 8, 2007). "Disney Announces Summer 2009 Lineup". Dark Horizons. Retrieved June 10, 2007. 
  7. ^ Lesnick, Silas (September 15, 2008). "Behind the Scenes of Disney's Bolt". Coming Soon. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  8. ^ Strike, Joe (April 9, 2008). "Disney Taps Deep Into DNA In Unveiling Animation Slate". Animation World Network. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Smith, Dave. "Ask Dave: The Ultimate Disney History Expert". D23. Archived from the original on June 17, 2009. Retrieved June 17, 2009. 
  10. ^ Barnes, Brooks (November 14, 2008). "Mark Walton, The Voice Behind the Drawing Board". New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2008. 
  11. ^ a b Walt Disney Records (November 14, 2008). "Walt Disney Records Presents the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, BOLT". Reuters. Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Bolt".  
  13. ^ "Bolt". November 18, 2008. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Exclusive: First Look at Pixar's Tokyo Mater!".  
  15. ^ "Bolt Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Coming March 22". January 21, 2009. Retrieved February 16, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Bolt Blu-ray bows two days before DVD". Video Business. January 22, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Argos Entertainment". May 2009. Retrieved May 30, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Bolt – The official DVD website".  
  19. ^ "An Afternoon at the House of Mouse". TAG Blog. October 27, 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Top Selling DVDs of 2009". The Numbers. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Bolt 3D Blu-ray (France)". Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Bolt 3D Blu-ray (United Kingdom)". Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  23. ^ S. Cohen, Rachel (September 7, 2010). "Disney, Sony team on 3D, Blu-ray marketing". Variety. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Bolt 3D Blu-ray". Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  25. ^ DeMott, Rick (November 8, 2011). "Disney Release Four New Titles on Blu-ray 3-D". Animation World Network. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Bolt Movie Reviews, Pictures".  
  27. ^ "Bolt (2008)".  
  28. ^ "Bolt Review".  
  29. ^ "Bolt".  
  30. ^ Turan, Kenneth (November 21, 2008). """Review: "Bolt.  
  31. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for November 21–23, 2008".  
  32. ^ "Bolt (2008) – Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 2, 2008. 
  33. ^ "Bolt – Weekend".  
  34. ^ "Bolt – Foreign".  
  35. ^ "Bolt (2008) – Awards".  
  36. ^ "Bolt".  
  37. ^ Geddes, Ryan (June 19, 2010). "Bolt Movie to Fetch Videogame Versions".  
  38. ^ promotion page"Bolt".  
  39. ^ "iPhone App Review: RhinoBall". AppVee. Retrieved August 15, 2010. 

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