The film is produced by Michael Bay through DreamWorks; The Hollywood Reporter projected the budget to be between $50 and $60 million. The film was released on February 18, 2011.
John Smith 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 Cêpan, or guardian, Henri. Together, they live in a beach-side bungalow in Florida.
The Mogadorians, led by the Commander, 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. He suffers sharp pain, his leg begins to glow, and he sees a vision of Number Three warning him of the coming danger. The girl and the other people on the beach, who record 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. A small lizard is able to crawl in along with their belongings.
John and Henri arrive in Paradise and begin settling into their new home. As night falls, the lizard transforms into a dog. That night, Henri and John hear a 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, at John's insistence, Henri allows John to go to the local high school rather than be home schooled.
On 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. After John is given his schedule and the girl is let off by the principal, the girl is asked by the secretary to guide John to his locker and first class. At this time, John falls for the girl, who is an amateur photographer named Sarah Hart. As Sarah walks away, a guy walks up to John with a couple of his friends and introduces himself as Mark James. As Mark walks away, John watches him slam another boy into the lockers and throw the boy's skateboard away. John retrieves it and gives it back to the boy, whose name is Sam Goode. Later that day at lunch, John befriends Sam 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. As he views the site, 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, similar to the glow on his leg in the ocean, and he sweats profusely. He runs from the classroom and into a janitorial closet to soak his hands in water to calm the burning. Henri, alerted by a Loric box that he has kept, comes to John and explains that the glowing is the awakening of John's "legacies". As these powers grow, John will become 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 that 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 into town to walk around for a bit and runs into Sarah. He confronts her about the pictures that he found on her website and she admits to being an avid photographer. As they walk together, they see Sam across the street being yelled at by his step-father. John walks Sarah the rest of the way to her house, where she invites him in for dinner with her family. Her parents 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 some of her favorite photos that she has 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 much of it. Bernie Kosar shows up outside of Sarah's house, barking loudly, and John 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 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 a mysterious woman who is also trying to locate Number Four.
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. 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.
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 Chimæra 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 Chimæra form, fights one of the Mogadorians' monsters in the school's showers. He is able to defeat the monster. 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 bandoleer of ammunition. John survives this explosion when Number Six stands between him and the blast, revealing her ability to resist fire.
The following day, Number Six unites John's and Sam's blue rocks and discovers 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.
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 Four
- Dianna Agron as Sarah Hart
- Timothy Olyphant as Henri
- Kevin Durand as Mogadorian Commander
- Teresa Palmer as Number Six
- Callan McAuliffe as Sam Goode
- Jake Abel as Mark James
In March 2010, Alex Pettyfer was in talks to play the title character in the film, Number Four. It was later confirmed that the 20-year-old English actor will play the lead.
Sharlto Copley was going to star as Henri, Number Four's guardian and mentor, but had to drop out due to press obligations with his film The A-Team. Copley was replaced by Timothy Olyphant.
Kevin Durand plays the villain of the film, Commander, an alien who leads the hunt of the escaped aliens on Earth.
DreamWorks went through multiple rounds of tests to find the right actress for the female romantic lead. Dianna Agron, a star in the Fox television series Glee, won the highly sought-after role. She plays Sarah Hart, a girl who used to date a high school football player, but falls for Number Four and keeps his secret. Jake Abel plays the football player, Mark James, an antagonist in the film who doesn't like someone moving in on his ex-girlfriend. Teresa Palmer plays another alien, Number Six, and 16-year-old Australian actor Callan McAuliffe plays Sam Goode, Number Four's best friend.
Film producer and director Michael Bay brought the manuscript of the teen book, I Am Number Four, to Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg at DreamWorks. A bidding war developed for the film rights between DreamWorks and J.J. Abrams, with DreamWorks winning the rights in June 2009, with the intention of having Bay produce and possibly direct the project. The rights were purchased with the hope of attracting teenage fans of the Twilight saga films, and the potential of establishing a film franchise, with at least six more installments planned by the book's publisher.
James Frey is a co-author of the book, along with Jobie Hughes, a graduate of Columbia University's creative writing program. Al Gough and Miles Millar, the creators of the television series Smallville, were hired to write the screenplay in August 2009. Marti Noxon, writer and producer for the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, also contributed to the screenplay. D.J. Caruso was brought on to direct in early 2010, after Bay opted to focus on directing the third film of the Transformers series. Caruso had been selected by Spielberg to direct Disturbia and Eagle Eye for DreamWorks, and had success with both films. Caruso had less than a year to prepare, shoot and edit the film, due to a worldwide release date set for Presidents Day weekend.
Chris Bender, J.C. Spink and David Valdes are executive producing the film. Steven Spielberg contributed to the film's characters, but is not expected to take a credit on the film. It was the first DreamWorks film to be released by Disney's Touchstone film label, as part of the new 30-picture distribution deal between DreamWorks and the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group. The film is also the first release for DreamWorks after the studio's financial restructuring in 2008.
A teaser trailer for the film was issued in late September 2010, and a full length trailer premiered on December 8. Advertisements ran in Seventeen and Teen Vogue magazines, and Disney released a promotional iPhone app in January 2011. Disney has also developed a lot of Internet content to target a teen audience with their marketing campaign. A cast tour, in association with American retailer Hot Topic, and cast media appearances were scheduled to lead up to the release of the film.
I Am Number Four premiered at the Village Theatre in Los Angeles on February 9, 2011. The film was released in theaters on February 18, 2011, and was also released in the IMAX format.
- "Radioactive" by Kings of Leon (when John is on the beach in the beginning of the movie)
- "Tighten Up" by the Black Keys (when John gets a text from Nicole at the beginning of the movie)
- "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele (when Six blows up the house)
- "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell (John's ringtone)
- "Shelter" by the XX (when John is walking around on his first day of school at lunchtime)
- "Soldier On" by the Temper Trap (when John is looking at pictures of himself on Sarah's website)
- "Invented" by Jimmy Eat World (when John is walking around at the town festival)
- "Curfew" by Beck
- "As She's Walking Away" by Zac Brown Band
- "Letters From the Sky" by Civil Twilight (when Six, John, and Sam are riding away from Paradise, Ohio at the end of the movie)
- In the book, Number Three's Cêpan is killed by a sword through the door. In the movie, he is killed by a Piken.
- On the first day of school in the book, Sarah was taking pictures of John and knew who John was because her mother had met john and told her about him, but in the movie, her mother doesn't meet John until Sarah brings him over for dinner.
- In the book, Bernie Kosar wears a tag but in the movie he doesn't. John named him Bernie Kosar.
- In the book, Sam Goode wears his father's glasses, but in the movie he's not wearing any glasses at all.
- The book takes place in the fall and winter seasons but the film takes place in spring.
- In the book, Sam and Emily Knapp (who is Sarah's friend and Sam's crush) ride the haybale truck along with Sarah and John, but in the movie Sarah and John rode the truck by themselves.
- In the book, Bernie Kosar turns into a dragon-like beast without wings but in the movie, he turns into a giant bulldog-like beast.
- In the book, the Mogadorians turn into ash, while in the movie they turn to dust.
- In the book, the Loric do not disintegrate into ash or dust, but in the movie they do.
- In the book, John discovers Telekinesis and only is able to master it through training with Henri. In the movie, John suddenly masters it with no explanation.
- In the book, John is perfectly aware of Legacies before he receives them. In the movie, he is completely unaware of them until after he gains Lumen.
- Henri dies close to the end of the battle with the Mogadorians that takes place at John's High School in the book. In the movie, he dies immediately after being stabbed by a Mogadorian on the scene where John saves him from the publishers of They Walk Among Us.
- In the book, there is a party at Mark's house which eventually causes the house to burn down. In the movie, there is no such party, (except for the one by the end of the movie, most likely at Sarah's house).
- In the book, there is no video in the internet of John's third scar forming. There is however, a video online of him jumping from Mark's burning house with Sarah and Mark's two dogs after the party.
- Number Six is already wearing her Loric costume in the book, while in the movie it is absent.
- The skirmish at Athens, Ohio, where John and Sam rescue Henri is changed completely from the book.
- In the book, Mark James is involved in the school battle. In the movie, he is captured by the Mogs and thrown against a classroom window and falls unconscious.
- In the book, Four has the ability to communicate with animals, and turns a beast on its masters. In the movie, that Legacy and the scene are both absent.
- A lot of scenes with the Mogs (like the scene with the Mogs killing the two humans) are absent in the book, as the book is in first-person.
- The School Battle (Battle of Paradise High School) is changed completely.
- The Mogadorians in the movie do not seem to have bleached white skin or eyes with no pupils, like they do in the book.
- The number of Mogadorians in the book (dozens, plus three Piken and two Krauls) far surpass the number in the movie (eight, including the commander, plus two Piken).
- The Mogadorians' strength and durability are exaggerated greatly in the movie. In the book, the soldiers are as strong as the Garde, but no more durable than a strong Human, while the scouts are far easier to kill (in the novel, both scouts and soldiers are susceptible to guns, but in the movie they are completely bulletproof).
- The Piken vary more greatly in the movie than in the Book. They can fly in the movie, and are far larger in the book and look completely different.
- Krauls (dog-sized weasels) are not in the movie.
- The entire third act of the film takes place over one night, while in the book, the third act is between Thanksgiving and January 10th.
- The majority of the battle of Paradise High School in the book is either in the woods or at the school. In the film, it's the football field and the school.
- Lumen is blue in the film, and functions differently from the book. (see details below)
- Six cannot teleport in the book, unlike the film. She also seemingly lacks Elemental Manipulation in the film (see details below)
- In the book, John runs to the school to save Sarah from the Mogadorians, but in the film the two go to the school together to develop pictures in the middle of a chase.
- In the book, there is no commander or central villain, aside form the Mogadorian Soldiers. In the film, there is a central villain, played by Kevin Durand.
- Because the book is in first person viewpoint, Mogadorians are not fully shown until the final battle in the book. In the film, they are shown in several scenes before.
Number Six varies greatly between the book and the movie. Following is her biography according to the movie. After the death of Katarina, Number Six's guardian, four months prior to finding Number Four at the hands of the Mogadorians, she starts to track down the remaining Loric. She has been trained in the art of combat, although it is unknown if she is trained by Katarina or if she teaches herself after many confrontations with the Mogadorians. She is skilled with both the Loric Dagger and Loric Pistol, although it is not clear where she got these from.
Although it is not known if she tracks any of the others before Four, she does manage to find the house where he was staying in Florida, although he had run from it at that point due to being seen when his leg shone when Number Three died. Six goes on to ransack the house before blowing up the house.
After talking to Number Four, Sarah, and Sam, they are attacked by two more Mogadorians. As Four sets about trying to stop one of the creatures the Mogadorians have released, Six fights two Mogadorians at once. She is able to hold them off until one of them lobs a grenade at her. She is unable to escape the blast zone of the grenade and time and is hurtled backwards from the force of the explosion. As John arrives Six is low on energy and tells John to hit her with his Lumen which powers her up to full strength. They then go on to destroy the two Mogadorians and then attempt to escape through the football field. They however run into three more Mogadorians, including the Commander. Four and Six take down the two henchman relatively easily, but then the second Mogadorian beast attacks Six. Six is pulled into the air by the beast. She is unable to escape its grasp. It is only through Four's intervention (which leaves him vulnerable) with his Lumen, does Six gain the upper hand and kill the beast. The Commander however, takes full advantage of Four's vulnerability and fires one of the Mogadorian explosives at Four. Four manages to block some of blast but still is hit with a majority of it. Six, having used up almost all of her energy fighting the beast, attempts to get up as the Commander walks over to Four and lifts him up. Four begins to use his Lumen to cause the remaining explosives on the Commander's baldric to overheat. The Commander is still planning on killing Four and he pulls out his sword. It is at this moment that Six has regained enough energy to propel herself at Four. She manages to free him from the Commander's grasps, seconds before the sword would have killed him. As the duo fall to the ground, Four focuses his Lumen causing the Commander's ammunition to rupture. Six, seeing this, uses her elemental resistance to protect both her and Four from the explosion. They both black out for a few moments, but soon awaken and walk back towards the school to find Sam and [Sarah].
- The group later meets at a church, along with Mark James, who has recovered the Loric Chest for Four. Four and Six then use the tracking device, by connecting the two halves together. They both then get a "feeling" and they know which way they have to go to find the others. It is apparent during the final scenes that Six does not really approve of Sam coming along with them, especially when she tells Sam that if he slows them down she will shoot him.
- The role of Sarah Hart's mother as real estate agent was omitted.
- The training scenes were omitted.
- All Lorien flashbacks were omitted.
- The actual battle on the school was shortened and completely changed.
- In the book, John is fireproof (a by-product of Lumen), in the movie however, Six is.
The Blue Stone ( The Locator ) was a Loric item introduced in the movie only. It was a glowing blue rock that came in two halves and, when connected, served as a tracking device for other Loric people on Earth. It is unknown if it had any other abilities as is could only be used once. It could be a reference or replacement to the stone tablet locator in The Power of Six.
The legacies that are shown in the film are dramatically different from those in the book. For example: Number Six's invisibility seems to be more of a cross between invisibility and teleportation because she is able to move distances faster than if she were to run them (invisibility), she doesn't seem to have elemental powers, but the invisibility/teleportation and fire resistance could represent air and fire. Four's Lumen can be used to shoot beams of light that can have physical effects, and charge the power of other Garde's Legacies. In the film his Lumen could Supercharge anything, demonstrated when he blew up the Mog's energy cell that was strapped to his chest (the ones used in their guns). Four's fire resistance is given to Six in the movie. In the book all Garde have telekinesis, however, in the movie it seems that only Four has it, which he uses to defect Mog gunshots.
There were rumors of The Power of Six being addapt and Caruso confirmed his interest in returning to direct.
Pittacus Lore refrained from confirming whether a sequel was in the works and directed fans to ask producer Michael Bay about future film installments.
There are Campaign sites going around with petition demands to Bay for a film of The Power of Six.