This 2008 animated adventure directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams will entertain the whole family. Bolt (John Travolta) and his beloved human companion, Penny (Miley Cyrus), star in a hit television series, the action-packed Bolt—and thanks to careful deception from the production crew, he has no idea it’s a TV show and his superpowers aren’t real. When he leaves the studio to rescue Penny, who has been kidnapped on the show, he ends up far from Hollywood on the streets of New York City and quickly learns he’s not the super dog he thought he was.
But he begins his journey west to get back to Penny, and along the way makes unlikely friends with a feral cat named Mittens and Rhino the hamster, a big fan of Bolt’s show. When they make it back to Hollywood, Penny is in real danger. Can Bolt save his friend even though he’s not a super dog after all?
Watch Bolt online to find out, and read on in this Bolt streaming guide to find out more about the actors, the film’s critical reception and more.
Here’s how to stream Bolt right now:
How to Stream ‘Bolt’ – Exclusively on Disney+
Bolt is one of the many animated Disney movies that is streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can stream Bolt and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. The service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “Bolt”
- 5. Tap on Bolt
- 6. Tap the Play Button
- 7. Enjoy!
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes iPads, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
Release Date: November 21, 2008
Creators: Executive Producer John Lasseter, Producer Clark Spencer, Writers Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams
Director: Byron Howard and Chris Williams
Starring: John Travolta, Miley Cirus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton
Synopsis: Bolt has spent his entire life protecting his human companion Penny on the set of his hit TV show, Bolt—and he doesn’t know his superpowers aren’t real. When he leaves the Los Angeles studio to rescue a “kidnapped” Penny and finds himself lost in New York City, he must make his way back to Penny with the help of two unlikely friends, Mittens the cat and Rhino the hamster.
How Long Is ‘Bolt’?
Bolt is an action-packed 96-minute animated feature.
The movie begins when eight-year-old Penny buys a little white puppy at a pet store and names him Bolt. Five years later, Penny and Bolt star in a hit television show in which Bolt has superpowers and protects Penny from the villain, Dr. Calico. But Bolt doesn’t know it’s a TV show and his superpowers aren’t real—the show’s producers have made sure of that in order to elicit a more realistic performance from the dog. When Penny is kidnapped on the show, Bolt escapes from the studio in an attempt to rescue her, but he knocks himself unconscious and ends up trapped inside a box bound for New York City. In New York, Bolt quickly realizes his superpowers aren’t real. When he comes upon Mittens, a feral cat, he convinces Mittens to guide him on a journey west to find Penny—who, although she’s upset about Bolt, has been convinced to continue filming with another dog. Bolt and Mittens stop at an RV park where Mittens teaches Bolt how to cutely beg for food, and they meet a hamster named Rhino who is a big fan of the show Bolt. When Mittens realizes Bolt is from a television show and tries to help him understand this, he tries to use his “superbark” power against her but only ends up getting both of them taken away by Animal Control. Rhino frees Bolt from the Animal Control van and helps him regain his superhero confidence. They rescue Mittens from the animal shelter and the three continue west, Bolt and Mittens developing a close friendship along the way. WHen they get to Las Vegas, Mittens wants them to stay, and when Bolt says he still wants to find Penny, Mittens tries to convince him Penny is just an actor and doesn’t really love him. Bolt refuses to believe her and sets off alone toward Hollywood. Eventually Mittens and Rhino follow. When Bolt eventually reaches the studio, he sees Penny rehearsing with his replacement and leaves, brokenhearted. But Mittens has arrived and overhears Penny telling her mother how much she misses her loyal companion, so she runs to tell Bolt. Meanwhile, the less-experienced Bolt lookalike panics on the set and knocks over some torches, setting the studio on fire with Penny still inside. The real Bolt arrives to rescue her but both are trapped inside and Penny is suffocating. Penny begs him to leave but he won’t. He unleashes his superbark through an air vent, and firefighters hear him and rescue them both. Penny quits the show, adopts Mittens and Rhino, and she and her family move in favor of a new lifestyle with their pets.
Bolt features some big voices with a range of backgrounds. Here are a few of the main players.
John Travolta as Bolt
Bolt is a white-haired dog who stars with his human, Penny, in a hit television series in Los Angeles called Bolt. In the show, Bolt uses superpowers to protect Penny—and he doesn’t know they’re not real until he finds himself alone in New York City trying to find his way back to his companion. Travolta is beloved for his performances in the classic movies Saturday Night Fever (1977), Grease (1978), Look Who’s Talking (1989), Pulp Fiction (1994) and Primary Colors (1998) and the television series Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979). More recent roles include John Gotti in the 2018 movie Gotti and Robert Shapiro in the television series American Crime Story (2016).
Miley Cyrus as Penny
Penny adopted Bolt as an eight-year-old kid, and five years later the inseparable pair star in a hit television series in which Bolt uses his superpowers to rescue Penny from a new danger every week. Cyrus began her acting career in 2001 and is well-known for her role as Disney’s 2006 to 2011 television series Hannah Montana. She also voiced the character of Mudka’s Meat Hut Waitress in The Emperor’s New School television series (2007-2008). She is also known as a popular music performer.
Susie Essman as Mittens
Mittens is a feral cat on the streets of New York who ends up agreeing to help guide Bolt west, back to Penny in L.A. Essman played the role of Susie Greene on the television comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm from 2000 to 2019 and has 40 acting credits since the late 1980s.
Mark Walton as Rhino
Rhino is a fearless hamster and a big fan of Bolt who proves invaluable to Bolt and Mittens when he joins them on their journey west. Walton’s acting career includes only four movie credits, all for voicing characters in Home on the Range (2004), Chicken Little (2005), Bolt (2008) and Turbo (2013). He has also worked as a writer for The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) and Tarzan (1999) and animator for Meet the Robinsons (2007).
‘Bolt’ Songs and Soundtrack
Bolt features two original songs, “I Thought I Lost You” written by Miley Cyrus and Jeffrey Steele and performed by Bolt stars Cyrus and John Travolta, and “Barking at the Moon” written and performed by singer Jenny Lewis. “I Thought I Lost You” was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song – Motion Picture but lost to “The Wrestler” performed by Bruce Springsteen in The Wrestler. The Motorhead song “Dog-Face Boy” is also heard in the film. The score was composed by John Powell.
‘Bolt’ at the Box Office
Bolt was released in more than 3,650 theaters nationwide in November 2008 and earned more than $26.2 million in its first weekend, ranking at number 3 for box office performance that weekend behind Twilight and Quantum of Solace. The movie went on to earn more than $114 million in domestic box offices and $213.9 million internationally. It ranked at number 22 for Top 2008 Movies at the Domestic Box Office, according to The Numbers. Bolt earned another $98 million in DVD sales.
‘Bolt’ Reviews – What the Critics Said
Critics enjoyed Bolt, which the film rating site Rotten Tomatoes called “a pleasant animated comedy that overcome’s the story’s familiarity with strong visuals and likable characters.” Rotten Tomatoes gives Bolt an 89% critic rating, with 183 reviews, and more than 315,000 audience reviews score the movie at 79%. The Los Angeles Times said Bolt “is kind of the family animation version of the Jim Carrey-starring The Truman Show.”
Where ‘Bolt’ Fits in the Disney Movie Pantheon
The first animated film to be a financial and critical success for Disney since Lilo & Stitch in 2002, Bolt is considered part of the Disney Revival, a period from 2006 to 2009 during which Disney acquired Pixar and released a number of successful animated feature films. Bolt helped set the stage for future hits (like Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013)) by using a new technology in non-photorealistic rendering for a unique visual effect and new technology designed specifically for the film to make the backgrounds look hand painted. The film was nominated for numerous accolades, including Best Animated Feature in the Academy Awards, Annie Awards, Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards and Golden Globe Awards—but it didn’t win any.
‘Bolt’ Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
Bolt received praise from the critics, and its innovations helped drive the Disney Revival that led to some of the animation studio’s more recent big hits. Here’s what you need to know.
1. One of Dr. Calico’s early roles was in A Clockwork Orange.
Dr. Calico, the evil mastermind on Penny and Bolt’s television series Bolt, is voiced by Malcolm McDowell. McDowell began acting professionally in the mid-1960s and is known for more than 260 credits, including in A Clockwork Orange (1971) and more recently the television series Entourage (2005-2011), Metalocalypse (2007-2012), Franklin & Bash (2011-2014) and Mozart in the Jungle (2014-2018).
2. It’s not easy to animate a hamster.
Rhino the hamster was originally based on John Lasetter’s pet chinchilla, which he brought as a special guest to an animator’s retreat during film production. The crew also adopted a hamster and filmed it from below while it walked on Plexiglas so they could get the motion for Rhino walking in his hamster ball.
3. Bolt was originally called American Dog but was renamed and totally overhauled when John Lasseter took over.
The original film was written and directed by Chris Sanders and had a different title and characters altogether. After Disney acquired Pixar and put John Lasseter in the helm as chief creative officer, Sanders was replaced with directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard, who were given just 18 months to complete a production process that would normally have taken several years.
4. Bolt may have lost at the Academy Awards, but its directors won eventually.
Byron Howard and Chris Williams received their first Academy Award Best Animated Feature nominations for Bolt, but they lost in 2008 to WALL-E. However, Williams went on to win in 2015 for Big Hero 6 and Howard for Zootopia in 2017.
5. Bolt’s name was inspired by an earlier Disney animated classic.
Remember when the puppies in 101 Dalmatians (1961) are watching TV? They’re watching Thunderbolt the dog, from whom the makers of Bolt drew inspiration for his name.