Jem and the Holograms (film)

Jem and the Holograms

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Produced by
Written by Ryan Landels
Based on Jem
by Christy Marx
Music by Nathan Lanier
Cinematography Alice Brooks
Edited by Jillian Twigger Moul
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • October 23, 2015 (2015-10-23)
Running time
118 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million[2][3]
Box office $2.3 million[4]

Jem and the Holograms is a 2015 American musical fantasy drama film co-produced and directed by Jon M. Chu, written by Ryan Landels, and starring Aubrey Peeples as the title character, Stefanie Scott, Hayley Kiyoko, Aurora Perrineau, Ryan Guzman, Molly Ringwald, and Juliette Lewis.

Borrowing elements from the 1980s animated television series Jem by Christy Marx, the film was produced by Hasbro Studios and Blumhouse Productions. Chu's interest in developing a film adaptation of Jem is based on having grown up watching the original animated series with his sisters.

Jem and the Holograms was theatrically released on October 23, 2015 by Universal Pictures and grossed $2.3 million worldwide on a $5 million budget.[4]


Teenage songwriter Jerrica Benton and her younger sister Kimber live with their Aunt Bailey and two foster sisters, Aja and Shana. The four girls frequently videotape themselves playing music and wearing colorful 80's outfits just for fun, but Jerrica is too shy to sing on camera. Jerrica learns one day that due to Aunt Bailey's financial problems their house will be auctioned. She vents her emotions by recording a song with the video camera Kimber uses to post blogs. She disguises herself by calling herself Jem, her deceased father's nickname for her.

She forgets to delete the video, and an Internet-obsessed Kimber posts it onto YouTube. The video attracts millions of views in a single day. Jerrica is offered a record deal by Starlight Productions and travels to LA with her sisters. They meet music producer Erica Raymond and her son Rio. Erica is polite and courteous with the four girls but shows particular interest in Jerrica, who she sees as a potential superstar.

The girls settle down in LA and discuss their next move. They've brought along a small robot called 51N3RG.Y (pronounced synergy) built by the Benton sisters' deceased father, Emmett. The robot suddenly activates itself and leads them on a scavenger hunt. Each clue represents something Jerrica did or wanted to do with her father. The objective is to find several missing pieces designed to fit into the robot so that it can be fully activated. The girls find the first piece in the Santa Monica Pier. They find the second clue in a guitar once owned by Jerrica's father when, by coincidence, the band plays a concert.

Rio and Jerrica begin to develop feelings for each other, much to Erica's dismay. Erica signs Rio off to another singer in an attempt to keep him away from Jerrica. Aunt Bailey tells Jerrica via FaceTime that their house is going for auction in a few days. Desperate to save the home, Jerrica asks Erica for an advance. Erica says she'll happily obliges, but only if Jerrica agrees to leave her sisters and start a solo contract. Jerrica relents, believing she is doing it for the family. Her sisters discover the truth about the contract, denounce her for leaving them out of the deal, and leave. After a dull solo performance, Jerrica becomes depressed over her mistake and goes to visit the LA house where she used to live with Kimber and her father.

Her sisters arrive to visit her at the old house and make amends. They vow to help her finish the scavenger hunt and Rio goes along too. Jerrica realizes that the last piece is the earrings her dad told her to wear, but Erica made her take them off when she first went to Starlight. The earrings are now stored in Erica's office. Rio and the girls break into Starlight headquarters, almost getting caught by Erica, but succeed. The reward for finishing the hunt is a final hologram message from Jerrica and Kimber's father. They also discover Rio's late father's will, which gives him a majority of shares in Starlight and effectively puts him in control of the company.

At the end of the movie, Rio and Jem kiss, Erica is fired, the house is safe, and everyone is happy. Jem and her sisters play their final concert together. Rio chats with a woman called Lindsey Pierce (Jem creator Christy Marx in a cameo role) at the concert. She offers to give the band the cover of Rolling Stone, and asks Rio what to call the band. He suggests "Jem and the Holograms." Lindsey says it's a great name.

In a mid-credits scene, Erica, now terminated from Starlight, arrives in a seedy junkyard, where she attempts to recruit a group of punkish young women into a band to rival the Holograms. They decline, saying that Erica dropped them the first time they were signed with Starlight. They change their minds when the leader, Pizzazz, discovers that Rio is dating Jem, and take Erica inside. The graffiti on the side of their trailer reveals their name as the Misfits.


Cameo appearances from the original TV series cast include these: Samantha Newark, having performed the voice of the original Jem, is a hairstylist in the film;[6] Britta Phillips cameos as a stage manager; and Jem's creator Christy Marx cameos as Lindsey Pierce.


With the recent successes of the live-action reboots of G.I. Joe and Transformers, Hasbro was rumored to be considering a live-action film with Universal Studios. Hasbro and Universal had signed a six-film contract in 2010, or a new incarnation of the animated series.[7] On March 20, 2014, a live-action motion picture adaptation of Jem and the Holograms was announced, to be directed by Jon M. Chu.[8]

Chu has said he had spent ten years developing the film with producer Jason Blum.[9] The film's musical producer, Scooter Braun, stated that he drew influence from his work on the career of Justin Bieber.[10] It was later revealed that the original Jem writer Christy Marx was not involved in any part of the film's production.[11] In response to her having no part or consultation on the film, Marx defended Chu's sense of ambition for the project via Facebook and has left it to the fans to decide whether or not the project was a "smart decision".[12]

In April 2014, it was announced that Aubrey Peeples had been cast as Jem, with Stefanie Scott as Kimber, Hayley Kiyoko as Aja, and Aurora Perrineau as Shana.[13] Peeples had admitted being initially unfamiliar with the franchise although she subsequently became familiar with it and became a fan quickly.[14] Other parts were announced throughout the next couple of months with actor Ryan Guzman cast as Rio announced on April 30[15] Juliette Lewis's involvement on May 19.[16] and Molly Ringwald on May 20.[17] Principal photography began on April 22, 2014 in Van Nuys,[18] later on May 19, shooting was underway in Los Angeles.[16] Shooting ended on May 24, 2014.[19]

On October 23, 2015, Chu confirmed his intentions to make a crossover film between Jem and the Holograms with Transformers and G.I. Joe.[20][21]


The soundtrack for the film, featuring original compositions and also songs by Hailee Steinfeld and Dawin, was released in North America by Silent Records and Republic Records on October 23, 2015.[22]

Jem and the Holograms (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[22]
No. TitleArtist Length
1. "Youngblood" (featuring Aubrey Peeples and Stefanie Scott)Hilary Duff & Jem and the Holograms 3:04
2. "Hit Me Up" (featuring Stefanie Scott)Jem and the Holograms 3:36
3. "Alone Together" (featuring Aubrey Peeples)Jem and the Holograms 2:08
4. "Cold Blooded"  Ida Maria 3:35
5. "Mi Mi Mi"  Serebro 3:12
6. "We Got Heart" (featuring Aubrey Peeples, Aurora Perrineau, Stefanie Scott and Ryan Guzman)Jem and the Holograms 2:57
7. "Youngblood" (featuring Aubrey Peeples and Stefanie Scott)Jem and the Holograms 2:58
8. "Love Myself"  Hailee Steinfeld 3:38
9. "Movie Star"  Hayley Kiyoko 3:18
10. "The Way I Was" (featuring Aubrey Peeples)Jem and the Holograms 3:43
11. "Life of the Party"  Dawin 3:26
12. "I'm Still Here" (featuring Aubrey Peeples, Aurora Perrineau and Stefanie Scott)Jem and the Holograms 3:44
13. "Got It"  Marian Hill 3:12



On February 25, 2015, the first official image from the film was released, featuring Peeples as Jem, Scott as Kimber, and Kiyoko as Aja performing on stage.[23] On May 12, 2015, director Chu revealed the first official film poster.[24] The next day, on May 13, a trailer was released online.[25] On August 11, a second trailer was released,[26] this time featuring the robot 51N3RG.Y (pronounced as synergy) which itself was based on the supercomputer of the original cartoon series, which generates and holographically projects the band's images and creates their special effects during stage performances. Critics responded negatively to the May 2015 trailer for the film, noting that the reboot seems to share little with its animated predecessor.[27] Hillary Crosley Coker of Jezebel commented that the film "looks like a less interesting version of Beyond the Lights".[28] Uproxx noted the trailer's low rating on its official YouTube page,[29][30] while The Huffington Post in Canada wrote that the changes to the original plot have "disappointed '80s kids everywhere", then highlighted multiple negative fan reactions.[31] Williesha Morris, also writing for The Huffington Post, criticized the film's re-imagining of the Jerrica character, stating that the original cartoon "represented female empowerment, not angst".[32] Actress Scott, who plays Kimber, and producer Blum have both addressed the negative reactions by asking fans to reserve judgment until the film is released. Scott stated that "I think that they have to see the movie to understand that things that they think are missing are in there." Blum has described the film as being "a hundred percent true to the spirit of Jem".[33]


Jem and the Holograms was theatrically released on October 23, 2015 by Universal Pictures.

Home media

Jem and the Holograms received a DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo release on January 19, 2016. Special features include 12 deleted scenes, an audio commentary by director Chu, a gag reel, a music video for "Youngblood", and a featurette titled "Glam, Glitter, Fashion, and Fame: The Reinvention of Jem".[34]


Box office

The film was released in North America on October 23, 2015, alongside The Last Witch Hunter, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, and Rock the Kasbah, along with the wide release of Steve Jobs. Initially projected to gross $5 million in its opening weekend, projections were lowered to $3 million after only grossing $34,000 during its Thursday night previews ($36 per theater average).[35] It ultimately opened fifteenth at the box office with $1.4 million, the worst opening of 2015 and the fourth worst opening ever for a film screening in more than 2,000 theaters.[36][37][9] On November 10, 2015, just over two weeks after release, Universal removed Jem from theaters entirely, after grossing $2.2 million. Jason Guerrasio of Business Insider described the pull from theaters as "an unheard of move for a movie that was in theaters nationwide."[38]

The film's international roll-out began on October 22, where it debuted to a fourth-place finish in Slovenia. It debuted in 9 screens and had a weekend gross of $2,064. The total was $3,046. In its second weekend, the film dropped 37% to finish at fifth place with $1,297. Its third week resulted in a steep 84% decline to $210. Its three-week total is $6,886.[39]

The film opened in Croatia on October 29, where it debuted in fifth-place with $1,421 from 11 screens. The film dropped over 40% in its second week with $870 from 7 screens, but the third week saw its screen count increase to 13 and it suffered a scant 8% decline to end the weekend with $801. The film’s three-week total was $3,744.

The film opened in Iceland a day later, where it made $1,197 on opening weekend from 6 screens. The film retained its screen count for the next week, seeing a 41% drop to end with $698. The following week saw the film take in $195 from 1 screen, a substantial drop of 72%. Its three week-total was $2,862.

The film opened in Norway on November 6. It placed number four at the box office with $14,764 from 62 screens. Its two-week total was $20,046.

The film opened in Singapore on November 26 where it grossed $9,311 from 8 screens for a 13th-place finish. Release dates for other parts of Europe was December; the film opened in the UK on 12 February 2016 and grossed $12,869. The film was released in France in April 2016.

The film never made it to cinemas in Australia; instead, it went straight to DVD there in mid-March, 2016. As of 30 December 2015, the film grossed $142,526 internationally, bringing the worldwide gross to $2.3 million.[40]

Critical reception

"I get fans sending me hate mail, I get death threats, I get racist remarks — it's a really fun business. ... Reviewers have been harsh, to say it lightly."

—Jon M. Chu, Director[9]

The film has received generally negative reviews from critics and fans of the original animated series.[9] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that the film has a rating of 18% based on 66 reviews; the average rating is 3.5/10. The site's consensus reads, "Jem and the Holograms ignores its source material's goofy charm in favor of bland by-the-numbers drama."[41] Metacritic gives the film a score of 42 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[42] CinemaScore audiences gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[43]

Geoff Berkshire of Variety praised Peeples' performance as Jem, noting that she "keeps the film watchable", as well as Lewis as "a nonsensical bitch-on-wheels caricature with offbeat line readings and live-wire energy", and noted that "a generally unremarkable tech package — cinematography, sound, costuming & makeup, etc. — at least provides a modest showcase for costume designer Soyon An, makeup head Mary Klimek and hairstylist Vanessa Price, who come the closest to channeling the vibrant spirit of the Jem cartoons that originally made fans fall in love."[44]

Matt Zoller Seitz, editor-in-chief of, gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, stating that the film "is one of the weirdest big screen adaptations of a cheap TV cartoon that I've seen", giving his observation that the film even sometimes evokes the films of Terrence Malick, a filmmaker known for his films' lush cinematography and reflective nature. Seitz's overall conclusion is that "[the film is] not a good film in terms of plot or tonal consistency, and it offers almost nothing in the way of true conflict, but it's always an observant and sincere movie, and occasionally a beautiful and deep one."[45]


  1. "JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  2. "Only 'Goosebumps' Will Prevail In Five-Pic Logjam – Box Office Preview".
  3. "Jem and the Holograms (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  4. 1 2 "Jem and the Holograms (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  5. "JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS CAST + CREW". Fandango. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  6. "Jem's Samantha Newark: Still Truly Outrageous". The Advocate. Here Media. October 6, 2014. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  7. Rowles, Dustin (2011-08-09). "Jem and the Holograms Coming to the Big Screen?". Retrieved 2011-08-09.
  8. "Jason Blum, Scooter Braun Prods & Jon M. Chu Team With Hasbro On 'Jem And The Holograms' Video". 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "'Jem and the Holograms' Director on Film Bombing, Getting "Death Threats" From Show Fans". The Hollywood Reporter. 2015-10-24. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  10. Braun, Scooter (October 23, 2015). "Scooter Braun on How Justin Bieber Inspired 'Jem and the Holograms' (Q&A)" (Interview). Interview with Rebecca Ford. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  11. "'Jem And The Holograms' Creator Christy Marx Shut Out Of Live Action Movie". 2014-03-21. Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  12. Marx, Christy. "Christy Marx Clubhouse". Facebook. Christy Marx Clubhouse. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  13. "'Jem and the Holograms' cast revealed". 2014-04-25. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  14. Malkin, Mark. "NEWS/ Jem and the Holograms Star Aubrey Peeples Teases Movie's Music, Fashion and Possible Sequel". E!. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  15. "'Jem and the Holograms' Finds Its Rio". Hollywood Reporter. 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  16. 1 2 Jen Yamato (2014-05-19). "'Jem And The Holograms' Adds Juliette Lewis In Mystery Role". Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  17. Hughes, Jason (2014-05-20). "Molly Ringwald, Juliette Lewis Join Cast of 'Jem and the Holograms'". Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  18. Christine (2014-04-22). "'Jem and the Holograms' begins filming in Los Angeles!". Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  19. "On The Set For 5/27/14: Johnny Depp Starrer 'Black Mass' Starts For Warner Bros., 'Jem and the Holograms' Wraps". 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  20. John Chu wants to make a crossover film with G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Jem By B.G. Henne Oct 23, 2015 12:49 PM
  22. 1 2 "Jem and the Holograms (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Various Artists on iTunes". Apple Inc. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  23. "'Jem and the Holograms' Movie: First Photo Released". Variety. 2015-02-28. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  24. "Jon M. Chu on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  25. "The 'Jem And The Holograms' Trailer Features More Than Just Music And Make-Up". BuzzFeed. May 12, 2015. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  26. "The Second JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS Trailer Has Arrived". Nerdist News. August 11, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  27. "'Jem and the Holograms' trailer isn't as magical as you expected". CNN. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  28. Coker, Hillary Crosley. "Here's the New Jem and the Holograms Trailer. I Think I Hate It". Jezebel. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  29. Kurp, Josh. "The Internet's Reaction To The 'Jem And The Holograms' Trailer Is Truly Outrageously Bad". Uproxx. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  30. "Jem and the Holograms (2015) Trailer 1 (HD) Universal Pictures". YouTube. Universal Pictures Australia. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  31. Zamon, Rebecca. "Jem And The Holograms Trailer Disappoints '80s Kids Everywhere". The Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  32. Morris, Williesha. "More Than Missing Misfits: 3 Reasons Why 'Jem & The Holograms' Is Hollywood's Worst Cartoon-Based Flick". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  33. "Producer, Star Both Defend Awful 'Jem' Trailer". The Frisky. 2015-05-23. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  34. "Jem and the Holograms". November 30, 2015. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  35. "'The Martian' Returning To No. 1 Above Five-Pic Logjam; 'Jem' & 'Kasbah' Crashing".
  36. "WORST WIDE OPENINGS 1982–present". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  37. "'Jem', 'Kasbah' & 'Witch Hunter' Flop Putting 'The Martian' Back On Top". Box Office Mojo. Jem and the Holograms brought in an estimated $1.3 million, the fourth worst opening for a film in more than 2,000 theaters and the worst for a film playing in more than 2,400 theaters.
  38. "This movie did so terribly that Universal has pulled it from over 2,000 theaters". Business Insider. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
  39. "Slovenia Box Office for Jem and the Holograms (2015)". The Numbers. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
  41. "Jem and the Holograms (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  42. "Jem and the Holograms Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  43. Anthony D'Alessandro. "Weekend Box Office: 'Last Witch Hunter', 'Paranormal Activity' Opening - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved October 26, 2015. The film's B+ CinemaScore doesn't mean anything: Very few were in the theater.
  44. "'Jem and the Holograms' Review: '80s Cartoon Comes to Life". Geoff Berkshire. Variety. October 22, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  45. Seitz, Matt Zoller (23 October 2015). "Jem and the Holograms Movie Review (2015)". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 20 June 2016.

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