Night at the Museum (2006)


Night at the Museum (2006)

In New York, unemployed and divorced Larry Daley is a complete loser. His son Nick is very disappointed with his father who is going to be evicted. Larry accepts the job of night watchman in the Museum of Natural History and takes the place of three old security guards that have just retired in order to raise some money and pay his bills. On his first shift, Larry soon realizes that everything at the museum is not as it seems as the statues begin to come to life after the sun sets. The Museum transforms into complete chaos with the inexperienced Larry in charge as he learns that an old Egyptian stone that came to the Museum in 1950 brings these statues to life until dawn. When Larry brings his son to spend a night with him, the three old guards break into the Museum to try to steal the magical stone. Larry organizes all the historic characters to help him stop the criminals and save the museum.
IMDb   6.4 /10
Metacritic   48 %
TheMovieDb    6.5 /10
RottenTomatoes  43 %
FilmAffinity   5.2 /10
Release Date2006-12-21
Runtime1h 48mins
GenreAdventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Content RatingPG (PG)
Awards2 wins & 8 nominations.
CompanyTwentieth Century Fox, Ingenious Film Partners, 1492 Pictures
CountryUSA, UK
LanguageEnglish, Italian, Hebrew

Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum is a 2006 fantasy comedy film directed by Shawn Levy and written by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. It is based on the 1993 children's book The Night at the Museum by Croatian illustrator Milan Trenc. The film stars Ben Stiller in the lead role, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, and Robin Williams. It tells the story of a divorced father who applies for a job as a night watchman at New York City's American Museum of Natural History and subsequently discovers that the exhibits, animated by a magical Egyptian artifact, come to life at night. 20th Century Fox released the film on December 22, 2006, and it grossed $574.5 million worldwide, becoming the 5th highest-grossing film of 2006, but received mixed reviews from critics.

Two sequels were released: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in 2009, and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb in 2014. A remake is also in development for the streaming service Disney+.


Larry Daley is a Brooklyn divorcee whose unstable work history causes his ex-wife Erica to believe that he is a bad example to their ten-year-old son Nick (who plays junior hockey), and Larry fears that Nick respects Don more than him. Cecil Fredricks, an elderly security guard about to retire from the American Museum of Natural History, hires Larry despite his unpromising résumé. The museum, which is rapidly losing money, plans to replace Cecil and his two colleagues Gus and Reginald with one guard. Cecil gives Larry an instruction booklet on how to handle museum security, advises Larry to leave some lights on that night, and warns him not to let anything "in... or out".

Once night falls, Larry discovers that the exhibits come to life, including a playful Tyrannosaurus skeleton nicknamed "Rexy" who behaves like a dog; a mischievous stuffed capuchin monkey named Dexter who develops a habit of stealing his keys; various other African animals; rival miniature civilizations portraying the Old West, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Maya; an Easter Island Moai obsessed with chewing gum; and wax models of various historical figures, including the violent Attila the Hun who desires to tear the limbs off his victims; four pyromaniacal Neanderthals; Sacagawea, who is locked in a glass case unlike the other exhibits; and Teddy Roosevelt, who rescues Larry from the miniature leaders Jedediah and Octavius, from the Old West and Roman dioramas respectively. Teddy explains that since an ancient Egyptian artifact — the Golden Tablet of Pharaoh Ahkmenrah — came to the museum in 1952, for the last 54 years all of the exhibits have come to life each night. If the exhibits are outside the museum when the sun rises, they turn to dust. Teddy helps Larry by restoring order, but only for one night. In the process, Larry finds out that Teddy has a crush on Sacagawea, but without the confidence to go talk to her through her glass display. Cecil, Reginald, and Gus return to check on Larry, but Larry quits. Until Nick and Don show up on their way to school to congratulate him on his new job. This motivates him to reconsider his night guard duties for the sake of his own son. Glad to see him back, Cecil advises him to do research on various histories to prepare for his next night shift.

The next night, Larry uses what he has learned to better control the exhibits, but four Neanderthals set fire to their display, and Dexter once again escapes with Larry's keys. While Larry is dealing with the fire, Dexter unlocks and opens a window. As Larry deals with Dexter and the warring miniatures, one of the Neanderthals notices a trash fire through the open window and leaps out. Larry, frustrated with everything going wrong, gives the keys to Roosevelt and once again decides to quit, but as he walks out, a metal statue of Christopher Columbus gestures to the open window where a Neanderthal has escaped. Larry runs outside to rescue him, but the sun rises and it disintegrates into a pile of dust; his remains are then swept up by a mechanical street sweeper. The next morning, museum director Dr. McPhee almost fires Larry after what had happened to the Neanderthal exhibit until Larry begs him to reconsider. Nick saw the whole thing while trying to hook his friends up with a museum tour and walks away in disappointment. McPhee gives him one more chance, saying if anything else funny happens, he will be fired for good. Larry then offers Rebecca a meeting with Sacagawea, but she believes that he is mocking her and the museum.

Larry brings Nick to the museum to show him the exhibits, but none of them come to life. They find Cecil, Gus, and Reginald stealing the tablet and other valuable objects. Like the exhibits, the guards receive enhanced vitality from the artifact and plan to frame Larry for the thefts. They have also disabled the tablet to stop the exhibits from interfering. With his father's encouragement, Nick reactivates the tablet and runs away with the artifact. After a chase throughout the museum, Cecil locks up Nick and his father in the Egyptian room and steals back the tablet. After being attacked by the massive Anubis statues, Larry releases Ahkmenrah's mummy from his sarcophagus. The pharaoh speaks English from many years as an exhibit at Cambridge and helps Larry and Nick escape. The three find the other exhibits fighting with each other. After helping Attila deal with past trauma causing him to act out tearfully, Larry comforts him by singing him a lullaby and then convinces the exhibits to work together to catch the guards and recover the tablet.

The Civil War soldiers, Neanderthals, and Christopher Columbus capture Gus and Reginald without much difficulty, but Cecil escapes by stagecoach. He almost runs Sacagawea over, but instead runs Teddy over and slices him in half when he shoves her out of the way. Larry, Nick, Ahkmenrah, Jed, Octavius, Rexy, and Attila pursue Cecil to Central Park, where they stop him and regain the tablet. Jed and Octavius crash their remote-controlled Hummer at one point, but return heroically and surprisingly unharmed. Teddy is fixed by Sacagawea with warm wax. Rebecca sees the exhibits return to the museum before sunrise and realizes that Larry was telling the truth; he introduces her to Sacagawea. McPhee initially fires Larry again after seeing news reports of the strange events around the museum — such as cave paintings in the museum's subway station, dinosaur footprints in Central Park, and cavemen sightings. However, upon seeing how much these events raised museum attendance, he restores Larry to his night-guard position; allowing him to continue his job. Larry, Nick, and the exhibits celebrate the following night with a huge party.

During the credits, Cecil, Gus and Reginald are now working as janitors at the museum as punishment for their crimes.



  • Ben Stiller as Lawrence "Larry" Daley, a night-shift security guard at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Nick's father, and Erica's former husband.
  • Carla Gugino as Rebecca Hutman, a museum docent.
  • Dick Van Dyke as Cecil Fredericks, a veteran security guard.
  • Mickey Rooney as Gus, a veteran security guard, who takes an instant dislike to Larry.
  • Bill Cobbs as Reginald, a veteran security guard.
  • Jake Cherry as Nicholas "Nick" Daley, Larry's and Erica's son.
  • Ricky Gervais as Dr. McPhee, the curator of the Museum of Natural History and Larry's boss.
  • Kim Raver as Erica Daley, Larry's former wife and Nick's mother.
  • Charlie Murphy as the taxi-driver.
  • Paul Rudd as Don, Erica's fiancé.
  • Anne Meara as Debbie


  • Robin Williams as a wax model of Theodore Roosevelt, an exhibit who befriends Larry.
  • Patrick Gallagher as a wax model of Attila the Hun, an exhibit who antagonizes Larry at first.
  • Rami Malek as the mummy of Ahkmenrah, a pharaoh who is the owner of the tablet.
  • Pierfrancesco Favino as a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, an Italian-speaking exhibit whose name Larry consistently forgets.
  • Steve Coogan as Octavian, a miniature Roman Emperor figure.
  • Mizuo Peck as a polyurethane wax model of Sacagawea. Theodore Roosevelt develops a crush on her.
  • Owen Wilson as Jedediah, a miniature cowboy figure (uncredited and only credited in the rest of the film series)
  • Kerry van der Griend, Dan Rizzuto, Matthew Harrison, and Jody Racicot as the wax models of Neanderthals
  • Martin Christopher as a wax model Meriwether Lewis
  • Martin Sims as a wax model of William Clark
  • Randy Lee, Darryl Quon, Gerald Wong, and Paul Chih-Ping Cheng as the wax models of the Huns
  • Brad Garrett as the voice of the Easter Island Head
  • Crystal the Monkey as Dexter, a stuffed Capuchin monkey


The building featured in the film, which was constructed on a sound stage in Burnaby, British Columbia, is based on the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, external shots of which were used in the movie.

Trainers spent several weeks training Crystal, who plays the troublemaking monkey Dexter, to slap and bite Stiller in the film.

Director Shawn Levy credited Ben Stiller for the ensemble cast: "When actors hear that Ben Stiller is in a movie they want to work with him. It a high-water mark and it absolutely draws actors in and I'm convinced that's a big part of why we got this cast."



  • "Friday Night" - performed by McFly; not featured in American version of the film, but heard in some international cuts, used during the end credits. It can be heard on the American DVD on the Spanish dub.
  • "September" - performed by Earth, Wind and Fire; used before the end credits where everyone in the museum is partying.
  • "Weapon of Choice" - performed by Fatboy Slim; used in the scene where Larry returns to the museum for his second night and is preparing for the chaos.
  • "Tonight" - performed by Keke Palmer featuring Cham; used for the end credits.
  • An instrumental version of "Mandy" by Barry Manilow is used when Larry is standing in the elevator, while escaping from Attila the Hun.
  • "Ezekiel Saw Them Dry Bones" is the tune Larry whistles as he passes the empty T. rex exhibit on his first night.
  • "Camptown Races" by Stephen Foster is sung by the townspeople of the American West miniature diorama. This is a period-correct song.


Alan Silvestri replaced John Ottman as score composer. Silvestri's score was used for the teaser trailer of Horton Hears a Who!

Night at the Museum (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
Alan Silvestri
ReleasedDecember 19, 2006
GenreFilm score
LabelVarèse Sarabande

Track list

Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album of the score on December 19, 2006.

All tracks are written by Alan Silvestri.

Night at the Museum (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1."Night at the Museum"02:35
2."One of Those Days"00:49
3."An Ordinary Guy?"01:27
4."Tour of the Museum"02:35
5."Civil War Soldiers"04:08
6."Out of Africa"01:07
7."Meet Dexter"01:27
8."Mayan Warriors"00:57
9."Where's Rexy?"00:48
10."West from Africa"01:49
11."The Iron Horse"01:06
12."Saved by Teddy"01:57
13."Tablet of Akmenrah"00:37
14."Tracking, Dear Boy"01:08
15."Some Men Are Born Great"00:50
17."Study Up on History"02:15
18."Teddy Likes Sacagawea"01:53
19."Tearing Limbs"01:45
20."Caveman on Fire"00:43
21."Outrun the Sun"00:58
22."Show You What I Do"02:55
23."Tablet's Gone"02:45
24."Theodore Roosevelt at Your Service"01:11
25."This Is Your Moment"02:10
26."Rally the Troops"01:07
27."Tree Take Down"01:21
28."Cecil's Escape"01:26
29."Stage Coach"02:28
30."Teddy in Two"01:18
31."Cab Ride"00:50
32."Big Fan"01:03
33."Heroes Return"00:54
34."A Great Man"00:57
35."Full House"01:21
Total length:53:19


Night at the Museum had its premiere in New York City on December 17, 2006. It was later released on December 22, 2006 in the United States, December 26, 2006 in UK, January 12, 2007 in Brazil, on February 14, 2007 in China and on March 17, 2007 in Japan.


Box office

At the end of its box office run, Night at the Museum earned a gross of $250.9 million in the US and Canada and $323.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $574.5 million. It was the fifth highest-grossing film of 2006 and also the highest-grossing film worldwide of the trilogy.

It was the highest-grossing film in its opening weekend, grossing $30.8 million and playing in 3,685 theaters, with a $8,258 per-theater average. For the four-day Christmas holiday weekend, it took in $42.2 million. The movie was also released in IMAX large screen format, often on site at museums of science or natural history such as the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

In its second weekend, Night at the Museum expanded into 83 more theaters for a total of 3,768, and took in approximately $36.7 million, out-grossing its opening weekend. It maintained the top position in its third week, with an additional $23.7 million.

During its international opening weekend of December 22, 2006, the film grossed a figure of estimated $5 million, with the highest debut coming from South Korea ($5.04 million). The biggest market in the other territories were the UK, Japan, South Korea, and Germany, where it grossed $40.8 million, $30 million, $25.7 million, $22.9 million.

Critical response

As of October 2020, on Rotten Tomatoes the film had an approval rating of 43% based on 138 reviews and an average rating of 5.26/10. The site's critical consensus read, "Parents might call this either a spectacle-filled adventure or a shallow and vapid CG-fest, depending on whether they choose to embrace this on the same level as their kids". As of October 2020, on Metacritic, the film had a score of 48 out of 100 based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.

Justin Chang of Variety magazine wrote: "This rambunctious, "Jumanji"-style extravaganza is a gallery of special effects in search of a story; rarely has so much production value yielded so little in terms of audience engagement." James Berardinelli of Reelviews gave it 2 stars out of 4, and commented on Stiller's performance by stating "It might be fair to give Ben Stiller an 'A' for effort, but to call what he does in this movie 'acting' is a misnomer. He does a lot of running around, occasionally falling down or bumping into things." One positive review by William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, gave it a B-, and stated that the film was "Out to impress and delight a family audience with the pageantry of human and natural history, and that's a surprisingly worthy ambition for a Hollywood comedy."

Museum officials at the American Museum of Natural History have credited the film for increasing the number of visitors during the holiday season by almost 20%. According to a museum official, between December 22, 2006, and January 2, 2007, there were 50,000 more visitors than during the same period the prior year.

Home media

The film was released on a 2-Disc DVD edition in the United Kingdom on April 23, 2007. It was released on 1-Disc and 2-Disc DVD editions and Blu-ray Disc format on April 24, 2007 elsewhere.

The film became the first non-Disney film to be reviewed by Ultimate Disney (now known as, due to the website dealing with other studios besides Disney.

As of 6 December 2009, the film has sold 9,191,694 DVDs and grossed $153,566,058 in DVD sales.


Saturn AwardsBest Fantasy FilmN/ANominated
ASCAP AwardTop Box Office FilmsAlan SilvestriWon
ArtiosBest Feature Film Casting - ComedyIlene Starger
Coreen Mayrs (Vancouver casting)
Heike Brandstatter (Vancouver casting)
Kids' Choice AwardsFavorite MovieN/ANominated
MTV Movie AwardBest Comedic PerformanceBen StillerNominated
National Movie AwardBest ComedyN/ANominated
Teen Choice AwardChoice Movie: Comedy and Choice Movie Actor: ComedyBen StillerNominated
Taurus AwardHardest HitGreg FitzpatrickNominated
Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actor Age Ten or YoungerJake CherryNominated


Night at the Museum was followed by a sequel titled Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, which was released on May 22, 2009 in North America. A third film, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, was released on December 19, 2014 in North America.

In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter stated that the Alibaba Pictures Group intended to remake the film. On August 6, 2019, Disney stated they were to remake Home Alone, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Night at the Museum for their Disney+ streaming service.