Development began in March 2012, when Sony picked up the film rights to the trilogy, with Graham King's production company GK Films and Tobey Maguire's Material Pictures. Filming took place in Atlanta, Georgia from October 2014 to January 2015. The 5th Wave was released on January 22, 2016, in the United States by Columbia Pictures. It grossed $109 million worldwide against a $54 million budget. It has a 16% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, which called it "a limp, derivative wriggle".
Ohio high-schooler Cassie Sullivan, armed with an M4 carbine, emerges from the woods to raid an abandoned gas station. Upon entering, she hears a male voice calling for help. She finds a wounded man, who points a gun at her, but they each put their weapons down. His other hand is under his jacket and as he takes it out, she sees a glint of metal and kills him. He was holding a Christian cross and the screen cuts to black to show her backstory.
A city-sized alien spaceship is circling Earth, containing extraterrestrials referred to as "The Others". Ten days later, The Others unleash their 1st Wave, an electromagnetic pulse that permanently destroys all electrical power, including vehicles and causing flying aircraft to fall. The 2nd Wave has The Others manipulate the planet's geology and fault lines, causing earthquakes and megatsunamis that completely decimate coastal cities and islands, one of the cities includes Bangkok in Thailand, which was hit by a tsunami back in 2004, as well as its inhabitants. For the 3rd Wave, The Others weaponize a strain of avian flu virus, using birds as carriers of the infectant, with Cassie's mother being one of the casualties.
Cassie, her father and her younger brother Sam, find a refugee camp in the woods with roughly 300 survivors. A few days later, an army unit with working vehicles rolls into the camp. The unit's commander, Colonel Vosch, claims there is an imminent threat of a 4th Wave and they will take the children to safety at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, intending to bring the buses back to retrieve the adults. Cassie is separated from Sam, and witnesses the army massacring all the adults, her father included.
Cassie scavenges her way toward the base, but is shot in the leg by an unseen shooter and passes out. About a week later, she wakes up in the farmhouse of a man named Evan Walker, who saved her. Cassie leaves towards the base with Evan, but learns that he is an Other, sent years ago as a sleeper agent and merged his consciousness into a human host. The sleepers roam their designated zones, killing human survivors. Evan admits his humanity was reactivated when he saw her, disagrees with the invasion and lets her leave. He warns that Colonel Vosch and the military are possessed by the consciousness of individual Others.
At the base, the military have used deception and technology to convince the rescued children that the humans outside the base have been possessed. They provide military training to the children, forming them into squads to go on kill missions outside the base. Sam has been placed into a squad led by Ben, a boy Cassie had a crush on, along with Ringer, a tough teenage girl, Dumbo and Teacup. While out on a kill mission, Ringer removes her military implant, causing her to register as an Other-possessed human on the squad's scopes. The squad deduces the plan to have them kill real unpossessed humans, making them the 5th Wave. Ben sends his squad into the woods and returns to base, claiming his squad was killed, for the purpose of retrieving Sam, who was left behind.
Ben confronts Colonel Vosch about child warriors being the 5th Wave and Cassie kills Sergeant Reznik during her one-on-one indoctrination spiel. Ben and Cassie find each other and leave to find Sam. Evan sets off numerous bombs and advises them to quickly find Sam before the destruction of the entire facility. Colonel Vosch and the surviving military evacuate with the human children by military aircraft. Cassie, Ben and Sam escape, with help from Ringer, just as Evan completes the destruction of the base. Ben's squad is reunited and Cassie ponders the strength of hope as humanity's driving force for survival.Chloë Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan
Nick Robinson as Ben Thomas Parish
Ron Livingston as Oliver Sullivan
Maggie Siff as Lisa Sullivan
Alex Roe as Evan Walker
Maria Bello as Sergeant Reznik
Maika Monroe as Ringer
Zackary Arthur as Sam Sullivan
Liev Schreiber as Colonel Alexander Vosch
Tony Revolori as "Dumbo"
Talitha Bateman as "Teacup"
Nadji Jeter as "Poundcake"
Alex MacNicoll as "Flintstone"
In March 2012, Columbia Pictures picked up the film rights to the trilogy, with Graham King and Tobey Maguire attached as producers. On April 15, 2014, it was officially announced that Chloë Grace Moretz would star as Cassie Sullivan, and that J Blakeson would direct from a script by Susannah Grant. From June through August 2014, Nick Robinson and Alex Roe joined the film as male protagonists Ben Parish and Evan Walker, respectively, while Liev Schreiber was cast as the villain. Over the following months, Maika Monroe, Zackary Arthur, Tony Revolori, Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff, and Talitha Bateman joined the film.
Principal photography began on October 18, 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia. Three months later, on January 11, a planned explosion of a bus in downtown Macon, Georgia for the film went awry when it spread wider than planned, blowing out more than forty windows on Cotton Avenue, collapsing ceilings, destroying store fronts, setting one building on fire, and leaving soot on the brick buildings as well. The production company promised to cover all damages caused by the 3:45 am incident, but the work that was done was done badly and remains incomplete twenty-eight months later. Filming officially ended on January 17, 2015.
In April 2015, it was announced that Henry Jackman would compose the music for the film.
Columbia Pictures originally set the film a release date for January 29, 2016. On April 30, 2015, they pushed back the release date this time from its original release date of January 29, 2016, then to January 15, 2016. However, In December 2015, they pushed back the release date this time from January 15, 2016, then to January 22, 2016. It was released on January 14, 2016 in Australia, Germany and the Middle East.
An international trailer for the film was released on Sony Pictures' official YouTube account on September 1, 2015.
The film was released for home media on 3 May 2016. The film was released online on various video sites 2 weeks prior to this.
The 5th Wave grossed $34.9 million in North America and $75 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $109.9 million, against a production budget of $54 million.
The film was released in North America on January 22, 2016, alongside Dirty Grandpa and The Boy, and was projected to gross $10–14 million from 2,908 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $475,000 from its Thursday night screenings and $3.5 million on its first day. It went on to gross $10.3 million in its opening weekend, finishing 6th at the box office.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 16% based on 128 reviews and an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "With unimpressive effects and plot points seemingly pieced together from previous dystopian YA sci-fi films, The 5th Wave ends up feeling like more of a limp, derivative wriggle." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 33 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
Jeffrey M. Anderson of The San Francisco Examiner said of the film, "Every plot turn and every line of dialogue has been borrowed from somewhere else, and everything is utterly, totally predictable", noting how the film "steals material from (but does not stop at) the Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent franchises." Anthony Lane of The New Yorker faulted the film as a "marketing wheeze dressed up as an art form, and stupendously summarized by the image of Cassie hurrying through the woods carrying both an assault rifle and a Teddy bear", adding that the film "appears to have been designed by some crazed Oedipal wing of the N.R.A."
Rob Vaux of the Sci-Fi Movie Page gave the film one star out of five, saying, "The YA adaptation craze hits a low point with this aimless, purposeless alien invasion story that wastes a fine cast." In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle wrote, "rarely does a movie that fails so utterly start so well", falling apart ahead of the fifth wave. As to a possible trilogy, "if we’re not really vigilant, and look to the skies, and prepare, they’re going to make at least two more of these things. We’ve got to beat back the invasion now". Eddie Cockrell of Variety gave the film a mixed review, saying, "The 5th Wave is an effectively decent post-apocalyptic, young adult, world-in-the-balance survival thriller" with an "arrestingly original spin on trendy genre tropes", although he suggested that fans of the book may have "issues with what has been edited".
Brian Truitt of USA Today gave the film a positive review, stating that it "is an inviting sci-fi invasion" and "nicely stokes the imagination of a new generation of science-fiction movie nerds". He praised Moretz and Robinson as "equally strong" co-leads. Shannon Harvey of The West Australian also gave the film a positive review, writing, "It’s actually got a lot going for it, from acting prodigy Chloe Grace Moretz as the kind of tough but fragile heroine you can cheer for to handsome production values, several plot twists". Michael Patterson of Moviepilot gave the film a positive review, calling it a "thrilling story of survival".