Peter Jackson and his producer partners acquired the rights independently and developed a script on their own, later selling it to Dreamworks. Principal Photography began in October 2007 in New Zealand and Pennsylvania, United States. After Dreamworks left the project, Paramount became the film's sole distributor. The film's trailer was shown was released on the 4th August, 2009, also clips from the film were shown in July 2009.
The Lovely Bones was first released on December 26th, 2009 in New Zealand, and then internationally in January 2010. The film's North Amercian release date was changed multiple times with a limited release on December 11th, 2009, and a wider release on January 15th, 2010. It was released tomainly negative reviews from critics; the story and its message were generally criticized, with praise mainly aimed at the acting, particularly at Saoirse Ronan and Stan Tucci. In the films opening weekend, in limited release, it grossed $116,616 despite only having been screened in three theaters, placing it at 30th place on the box office chart. As of February 28th, 2010, The Lovely Bones had made an estimated $43,588,000 in North America.
In 1973, Susie Salmon, a 14 year old girl living with her parents, sister and brother dreams of becoming a photographer. On December 6th, Ray Singh, a boy that Susie has a crush on approaches her at her locker and slips a note into her textbook. He then asks her out for the following Saturday, and as they are about to have their first kiss, they are interrupted by a teacher scolding a fellow classmate, which is none other than Ruth Connors.
As Susie walks home that day after school, she takes a shortcut through a cornfield. There, she bumps into her neighbour, George Harvey. He insists to Susie to try out his underground den, which he says is for the kids in the neighbours to hang out. In the den, Susie feels uncomfortable in his presence, but while she attempts to leave, he grabs her. Susie elbows him in the face, climbs out the den and runs through the cornfield and onto the street. She passes Ruth Connors while she runs. Meanwhile the Salmon family all begin to wonder why Susie has not returned home. Her father, Jack, leaves to search for her, while her mother Abigail waits at their house for the police. Susie then sees her father on the street. She shouts to him, but he does not respond. Susie then runs home and finds George Harvey soaking in a bathtub. Susie notices her charm bracelet hanging on the sink, which is covered in blood. Susie then realizes that George Harvey has murdered her. She screams in horror, but then she is taken into a surreal world called "The In-Between World", which is neither Heaven or Earth. From there, Susie watches over her loved ones, unable to let go despite her new afterlife friend Holly, who urges her to move on.Investigating Susie's disappearance, Detective Len Fenerman finds Susie's hat with blood on it, and he believes that Susie has been murdered. Convinced that the killer must have been someone that Susie knew, Jack begins obsessively researching neighbours, including George Harvey. Len Fenerman interviews George Harvey about Susie's disappearance, but they are unable to find any evidence to link him as a suspect. Susie's sister, Lindsey, comes to agree with her fathers suspicions. Abigail breaks down and Jack invites Abigail's alcoholic mother, Lynn to move into the family home to look after the family. feeling alienated from her husband, Abigail leaves for California and she gets a new job there. Susie then inspects a lighthouse and discovers and leanrs that George Harvey has Lindsey down as her next victim. She also learns that George Harvey had murdered six other females, including Holly. Susie discovers that George has stashed her body in a safe in his basement.
Jack, convinced that George murdered Susie follows him into a cornfield with a bat. He accidentially stumbles across Susie's friend Clarissa and her boyfriend Brain, who he ends up beating Jack unconscious. When Jack finally returns home, Lindsey breaks into George's house looking for evidence. She finds a notebook containing sketches of the den he built, a lock of Susie's hair and many newspapers linked to Susie's disappearance. George returns home, and Lindsey escapes and returns home with the notebook. Her mother, Abigail returns home, and Lindsey gives the notebook to her grandma Lynn. George packs his things and flees the area, fearful that he might be caught. He takes Susie's remains with him too.
The realm in Susie's afterlife begins to grow into a larger heaven, and there she is greeted by George's other victims. Holly urges her to enter heaven along with her and the other victims, but Susie tells Holly that she has one last thing to do. Meanwhile Ruth and Ray are present when George drives up to dispose the safe containing Susie's body. Susie returns to Earth and enters Ruth's body. Ray rushes and sees that Ruth has now become Susie. They both share a kiss, completing her last wish. Susie then returns to heaven.
A while later, George meets a woman on her own and offers her a lift, but the woman rebuffs him, leaving him to stand alone in the parking lot. A icicle falls onto George and it makes him lose his balance and he falls to his death. As time passes, Susie sees that her family are healing. As the film concludes, Susie enters heaven.
"My Name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was 14 years old when I was murdered on December 6th, 1973. I was here for a moment and then I was gone. I wish you all a long and happy life." - The last line spoken in the film.
- Mark Wahlberg as Jack Salmon
- Rachel Weisz as Abigail Salmon
- Susan Sarandon as Lyon Salmon
- Stanley Tucci as George Harvey
- Michael Imperioli as Len Fenerman
- Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon
- Rose Mclver as Lindsay Salmon
- Christian Thomas Ashdale as Buckley Salmon
- Reece Ritchie as Ray Singh
- Carolyn Dandos as Ruth Connors
- Nikki SooHoo as Denise Le Ang
- Andrew James Allen as Samuel Heckler
- Jake Abel as Brian Nelson
- AJ Michalka as Clarissa
- Thomas McCarthy as Principal Caden
- Stink Fisher as Mr. Connors
- Evelyn Lennon as Susie Salmon-Age 3
- Stefania Owen as Flora Hernandez
- Marley McKay as Nate
- Ashley Brimfield as Teenage Girl in Parking Lot
- Jon Jezior as Mr. O'Dwyer
- Anna George as Mrs. Singh
- Richard Lambeth as Deputy 1
- William Zielinski as Deputy 2
- Glen Drake as Deputy 3
- Nick Baker as Deputy 4
- Dan Kern as Hospital Doctor 1
- Greg Wood as Hospital Doctor 2
- Freya Milner as Jackie Meyer
- Katie Jackson as Leah Fox
- Ruby Hudson as Lana Johnson
- Tina Graham as Sophia Cichetti
=== The Lovely Bones trailer was released on the 4th August 2009, five months before the film was released in cinema's.