Changeling is a 2008 American mystery thriller film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood and written by J. Michael Straczynski, that explores child endangerment, female disempowerment, political corruption, mistreatment of mental health patients, and the repercussions of violence. Based partly on real-life events – the 1928 "Wineville Chicken Coop" kidnapping and murder case in present-day Mira Loma, California. The film stars Angelina Jolie as a woman supposedly reunited with a boy whom she immediately realizes is not her missing son. When she tries to demonstrate this to the police and city authorities, she is vilified as delusional and an unfit mother.
Straczynski spent a year researching the story after hearing about the Wineville Chicken Coop case from a contact at Los Angeles City Hall. Almost all of the film's script was drawn from thousands of pages of documentation. His first draft became the shooting script; it was his first film screenplay to be produced. Ron Howard had intended to direct the film, but scheduling conflicts led to his replacement by Eastwood. Howard and his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer produced Changeling alongside Malpaso Productions' Robert Lorenz and Eastwood. Universal Pictures financed and distributed the film.
Several actors campaigned for the leading role; ultimately, Eastwood decided that Jolie's face would suit the 1920s period setting. The film also stars Jeffrey Donovan, Jason Butler Harner, John Malkovich, Michael Kelly, and Amy Ryan. While some characters are composites, most are based on actual people. Principal photography, which began on October 15, 2007, and concluded a few weeks later in December, took place in Los Angeles and other locations in southern California. Actors and crew noted that Eastwood's low-key direction resulted in a calm set and short working days. In post-production, scenes were supplemented with computer-generated skylines, backgrounds, vehicles and people.
Changeling premiered to critical acclaim at the 61st Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2008. Additional festival screenings preceded a limited release in the United States on October 24, 2008, followed by a general release in North America on October 31, 2008; in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2008; and in Australia on February 5, 2009. Critical reaction was more mixed than at Cannes. While the acting and story were generally praised, the film's "conventional staging" and "lack of nuance" were criticized. Changeling earned $113 million in box-office revenue worldwide – of which $35.7 million came from the United States and Canada – and received nominations in three Academy Award and eight BAFTA Award categories.