Produced by Michael Bay, I Am Number Four was the first film production from DreamWorks Pictures to be distributed byTouchstone Pictures, as part of the studio's distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The Hollywood Reporter estimated the budget to be between $50 and $60 million. The film was released in both conventional and IMAX theatres on February 18, 2011.
John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is an alien from the planet Lorien. He was sent to Earth as a child with eight others to escape the invading Mogadorians, who destroyed Lorien. Here, John is protected by a Cepan, or guardian, Henri (Timothy Olyphant). Together, they live in a beach-side bungalow in Florida.
The Mogadorians, led by the Commander (Kevin Durand), learn about the nine children and come to Earth to find them. The Loric Garde can only be killed in sequence; Number One through Number Nine. Three of them have already been killed. John becomes aware that he is next while swimming in the ocean with a girl. His leg begins to glow with a sharp pain and he sees a vision underwater of Number Three, warning him of the coming danger. The girl and the other people on the beach, who recorded the event happening in the ocean, run from John. When the video and pictures surface on the internet, Henri deletes them all, gathers up his and John's belongings, and decides to move to an old farm in Paradise, Ohio. Anything not needed is thrown into a fire and the rest is packed into the back of their car, but not before a small lizard is able to crawl in along with their belongings.
The day John and Henri arrive in Paradise is a rainy day and they begin settling in to their new home. As night falls, the lizard that had made its way in to Henri's truck crawls out and in to a bush, where it transforms in to a dog. That night, Henri and John hear a loud noise outside and, upon investigation, find the dog, who is then brought inside by John. He decides to name the dog Bernie Kosar (after Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar). The following morning, due to John's insistence, Henri allows John to go to the local high school instead of being home schooled.
His first day there, John goes to the office to receive his class schedule. While waiting, he sees a girl being scolded by a teacher in the principal's office. She had taken pictures of the teacher picking his nose and posted them online. After John is given his schedule and the girl is let off by the principal, she is asked by the secretary to guide John to his locker and first class. In this time, John falls for the girl, who is an amateur photographer named Sarah Hart (Dianna Agron). As Sarah walks away, a guy walks up to John with a couple of his friends and introduces himself as Mark James (Jake Abel). As Mark walks away, John watches him slam another boy in to the lockers and throws the boy's skateboard away. John retrieves and gives back the board. Later that day at lunch, John befriends conspiracy theorist Sam Goode (Callan McAuliffe), who is the boy who was previously pushed in to the lockers, when one of Mark's friends throws a football at Sam's head, knocking him to the ground. John helps Sam up and throws the ball back with enough force to knock Mark's friend to the ground. After this, John notices Sarah taking an interest in him, as she's taking pictures of him from a distance.
That night at home, John discovers a website run by Sarah. It contains pictures of many of the people of Paradise, including a section dedicated to him, which he finds just moments before it is erased by Henri. At the same time back in Florida, the Mogadorians discover the burnt wreck of Henri and John's old home and determine that John was not killed in the fire.
The next day, while John is being bothered by Mark during a film in one of his classes, John's hands begin to glow and burn brightly, similarly to the glow on his leg in the ocean, and he sweats profusely. He runs from the classroom and in to a janitorial closet, where he soaks his hands in water to calm the burning. Henri, alerted by a Loric box that he's kept, comes to John and explains that the glowing is the awakening of John's "legacies". As these powers grow, John will become much more powerful but, in order to maintain a low profile, Henri forbids John from using these powers. John disobeys, sneaks out of his house, and goes to a nearby forest where he finds he is able to throw large rocks at supersonic speeds, run faster than he ever could before, and survive long falls with ease.
Later that night, John goes out in to the town to walk around for a bit and runs in to Sarah. He confronts her about the pictures that he found on her website and she admits to being an avid photographer. As they're walking together, they see Sam across the street being yelled at as he walks towards a car. Sarah reveals that it's actually his step-father. They finish walking the rest of the way to Sarah's house, where she invites him in for dinner with her family. Her parents, though a bit nosy, seem to like John and suggest that he and Sarah go to the carnival together. After dinner, John and Sarah head up to her room. She shows John a small bit of her collection of her favorite photos that she's taken. John finds a scrapbook of personal photos that Sarah's taken of herself along with things she's written but she takes it back before he can read too much of it. Bernie Kosar shows up outside of Sarah's house, barking loudly, and he gets up to leave. Sarah gives him a camera of her own for him to keep and they nearly kiss but John leaves quickly because of Bernie Kosar's constant barking.
The following day at school, Sam asks about the lights in class but John passes it off as a prank with some flashlights. As Sam is warning John to stay away from Sarah, their lockers explode with pink paint placed by Mark. John's hands begin to glow again but he's able to hide it by clenching his fists, as he narrowly avoids getting into a fight with Mark. While John and Sam are cleaning up in the bathroom, Sam tells John about how he and his father used to go looking for aliens, though his father suddenly disappeared one day.
During the Spring Fair, Sarah explains to John that she and Mark used to date. She talked about how she had "refused to be his personal cheerleader" and instead wanted to be a photographer. Mark had told her that she was being snobby and convinced the entire school that she was crazy. John and Sarah go on a haunted wagon ride through the woods. When they get off, Mark's friends tackle John and begin to beat him while one brings Sarah to Mark. John, however, he uses his legacies to fend them off and rescue Sarah. Sam witnesses John's use of his legacies and John reveals his true origins to Sam. The next day, Mark's father, the local sheriff, interrogates Henri on John's whereabouts when his son and his friends were attacked, where John says he wasn't paying any attention to Mark, since he was with a girl.
Henri tells John that too many people are suspicious of them, so they have to leave. John refuses because he doesn't want to leave Sarah. Meanwhile, the Mogadorians continue searching for John, while being trailed by another of the Garde, Number Six (Teresa Palmer) who is also trying to locate Number Four. Number Six's guardian was killed, and she realizes that the remaining six of the Loric Garde will have to team up and fight against the Mogadorians. She knows Number Three is dead and that Number Four is being hunted.
The Mogadorians eventually locate John and manipulate two conspiracy theorists into capturing Henri. When John and Sam go to rescue him, they are attacked, but manage to fend the Mogadorians off. Just before escaping, John and Sam grab Henri's knife and a Loric artifact; a blue rock that acts as the first half of a tracking device that locates other Loric children. Knowing who Sam is, Henri reveals that his father was an ally that was helping them. As John, Henri, and Sam begin to drive away in Sam's truck, Henri is stabbed through the chest while trying to protect John from a Mogadorian who jumped on the hood of the truck. John throws the Mogadorian from the truck with his telekinesis and they drive away. Henri later dies in John's arms after telling him to find the remaining children, as their combined powers would be enough to stop the Mogadorians. Sam reveals to John that he has another rock, very similar to the one found with the conspiracy theorists, that his father had found while searching for aliens in Mexico.
While Sam searches for it in his house, John tries to say goodbye to Sarah at a party. Mark sees John and calls his father, who corners John and Sarah on the roof of the house that the party is being thrown at. As Sarah stands up, she slips from the roof. John saves Sarah from a fall with his telekinesis, revealing his powers in the process, and they escape to their high school.
Meanwhile, the Commander arrives in Paradise in a convoy of trucks. He confronts Mark and his father. After injuring the sheriff, the Commander forces Mark to lead him to where John is hiding. Mark takes him to the school, which he knows is Sarah's hideout.
There, John, Sarah and Sam are attacked by the Mogadorians, who brought two giant monsters to hunt the trio. They are saved by Number Six and Bernie Kosar. Number Six reveals that Bernie Kosar is a Chimera that can shapeshift and was sent by John's biological parents to protect him. John and Number Six fight the Mogadorians using their powers; Number Six uses her invisibility powers and John blocks energy attacks with telekinesis. Meanwhile, Bernie Kosar, now in his true chimera form, fights one of the Mogadorians' monsters in the schools' showers. While he's able to defeat the monster, he appears to be mortally wounded, as he lies down, bloodied and panting, in the water. Eventually, having ended up on the school's football stadium, John and Number Six defeat all of the Mogadorians, including the Commander, who dies in a large explosion triggered by John igniting the Commander's bandolier of ammunition. John survives this explosion when Number Six stands between him in the blast, revealing her ability to resist fire.
The following day, Number Six unites John's and Sam's blue rocks and discover the location of the other four surviving Garde. John allows Sam to come with them with the hope of one day finding Sam's father. They set off to find the others so they can all protect Earth from the Mogadorians. They leave behind Sarah and a repentant Mark, who lies to his father about John's whereabouts and returns the box left to John by his dad that was in police evidence. Before leaving, John promises to return to Paradise one day and kisses Sarah one last time. Just before getting in to Sam's truck, Bernie Kosar, with a visibly injured paw, limps up to John. Besides his paw, he seems to be alright.
John, Sam, and Bernie Kosar leave together in Sam's truck, being led by Number Six on her motorcycle to where ever the next of the Loric Garde may be.
- Alex Pettyfer as John Smith/Number 4/Daniel Jones
- Timothy Olyphant as Henri
- Teresa Palmer as Number Six
- Dianna Agron as Sarah Hart
- Callan McAuliffe as Sam Goode
- Kevin Durand as Mogadorian Commander
- Jake Abel as Mark James
- Jeff Hochendoner as Sheriff James
- Greg Townley as Number Three
- Reuben Langdon as Three's Guardian
- Judith Hoag as Sarah's Mom
- Brian Howe as Frank
- Charles Carroll as Sam's Stepdad
- Ken Beck as Jackson
- Tucker Albrizzi as Tuck
- Emily Wickersham as Nicole
- Patrick Sebes as Kevin
- Andy Owen as Bret
- L. Derek Leonidoff as Mr. Berhman
- Garrett M. Brown as Mr. Simms
- Megan Follows as Supermarket Cashier
- Sabrina de Matteo as Physics Teacher
- Cooper Thornton as Sarah's Dad
- Jack Walz as Sarah's Brother
- Bill Laing as Demented Farmer
- Beau Mirchoff as Drew
- Cody Johns as Kern
- Monica Pimentel as Lizard
The film earned $55,100,437 at the North American box office and an estimated $90,882,360 overseas, for a worldwide total of $145,982,797. It topped the worldwide box office on its second weekend (February 25–27, 2011) with $28,086,805.
The film opened at number two in the USA and Canada with a gross of $19,449,893. In its second weekend it dropped 43.4%, earning $11,016,126. The only other market where it has grossed over $10 million is China. It began in third place with $3.4 million, but had an increase of 91% in its second week, topping the box office with $6.4 million. In its third week, it decreased by 21% to $5.0 million. As of March 27, 2011, it has grossed $17,328,244.
The film received generally negative reviews from critics.
Empire Magazine gave the film 3 out of 5 stars and said, "If you can make it through the bland schmaltz of the first half you'll be rewarded with a spectacular blast of sustained action and the promise of even better to come. This could be the start of something great."
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