School of Rock

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This article is about the film. For the academic music program, see School of Rock (Company). For other uses, see School of Rock (disambiguation).
School of Rock
School of Rock Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Linklater
Produced by Scott Rudin
Written by Mike White
Starring Jack Black
Joan Cusack
Sarah Silverman
Mike White
Miranda Cosgrove
Joey Gaydos Jr.
Kevin Clark
Music by Craig Wedren
Cinematography Rogier Stoffers
Edited by Sandra Adair
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • October 3, 2003 (2003-10-03)
Running time 109 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Box office $131,282,949[2]

School of Rock (also called The School of Rock) is a 2003 American comedy film directed by Richard Linklater, written by Mike White, and starring Jack Black. The main plot follows struggling rock singer and guitarist, Dewey Finn (portrayed by Black), who is kicked out of his band No Vacancy and subsequently disguises himself as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. After witnessing the musical talent in his students, Dewey forms a band of fifth-graders to attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands and pay off his rent. The picture's supporting cast features Joan Cusack and Sarah Silverman.


Dewey Finn (Jack Black) is a guitarist of an unpopular rock band No Vacancy. Dewey's arrogance and hyperactive stage antics causes numerous disadvantages for the band mates. The next day, No Vacancy kicks Dewey out of the band and replaces him with new guitarist named Spider (Lucas Babin). Furthermore, Dewey's submissive roommate and lifelong friend, Ned Schneebly (Mike White), is pressured by his obnoxious girlfriend, Patty Di Marco (Sarah Silverman), to evict Dewey unless he gets a real job to pay off his increasing rent debt. Dewey plans to give up his music interest but receives an urgent phone call originally intended for Ned from Rosalie Mullins (Joan Cusack), the principal of a prestigious prep school, Horace Green, asking Ned to fill in for a teacher who broke her leg.

Desperate for money to avoid eviction from his home, Dewey impersonates Ned and takes the substitute teacher position for a fourth-grade class. Upon showing up, he requests the students to call him "Mr. S." after failing to spell "Schneebly" on the board. However, Dewey incompetently resorts to grimacing over his rental problems and joblessness, and allows his students to do anything. Occasionally, Dewey gives casual and de-motivational lectures to the class. When Dewey overhears his students playing in music class, he thinks that the children of his class are musically talented and decides to make a personal project by converting the class into a rock band and crew to serve as a vehicle to stardom by winning the upcoming Battle of the Bands, where he is out to avenge his eviction from his old band and win the $20,000 prize.

When Dewey realizes the kids are mostly interested in pop and hip-hop, he turns the school days into lessons of rock history as well as playing rock music, exposing his students to those artists he regards as rock legends. Many rock legends are featured in classic photos and footage during a montage scene, including Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Iggy Pop, The Who, Rush, The Clash, Nirvana, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and David Bowie. Dewey narrowly avoids getting busted when Ms. Mullins decides to attend one of his class's lessons to check on their progress, forcing him to attempt to teach the actual course material. Dewey attempts to befriend her through rock music, by playing her favorite song "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks on a jukebox while visiting a bar. She reveals that, despite her seemingly uptight and feared persona at school, she is highly pressured and greatly desires to relax herself.

The two become close friends and the class auditions for the Battle of the Bands, which Dewey told them was their "school project." They are rejected because they show up too late. With the help of class factotum and band manager Summer Hathaway (Miranda Cosgrove), Dewey persuades the venue's managers to let the students perform in the Battle of the Bands by lying that the students are orphans and have been diagnosed with a made-up blood disease.

Although Dewey does his best to keep himself anonymous, he becomes exposed when the real Ned receives a paycheck that was originally for Dewey from Horace Green in the mail, despite not actually working there. He attempts to call the school about it, but Dewey breaks the call and confesses everything to Ned. He urges Ned not to tell Patty but she manages to reveal the truth out of Ned and calls the police on Dewey. During the parent-teacher night later on, Dewey meets the students' parents, who initially scrutinize Dewey's teaching abilities, utilizing the fact that their children were becoming more engrossed in music rather than the usual schoolwork. Ned and Patty eventually appear with the police and confront Dewey. Ned apologizes to Dewey, but Patty does not. Dewey's real identity is revealed, causing him to become sacked.

The next day, the class decides they have still put too much work in to not do the final show at Battle of the Bands so Summer arranges the class trip. They stop at Dewey's apartment in an attempt to have him join them. Ms. Mullins discovers the children left for the concert and informs their parents who are all in her office wanting answers from the events of the previous day. The parents and Ms. Mullins, tipped off by a phone call from Patty, head to the concert venue to take their kids back. Ned finally stands up to Patty and dumps her to go to the concert.

At the concert, the band plays their eponymous song, written by their lead guitarist, Zack Mooneyham (Joey Gaydos, Jr.). The parents and Ms. Mullins watch the performance and are greatly impressed by the talents of their children as well as their newfound confidence. Regardless of the audience's reception and winning over the crowd, School of Rock loses to No Vacancy. Though they accept their loss, the audience (but one member), becomes angered by No Vacancy's winning. They demand School of Rock for an encore. The band returns to the stage to play a cover of "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" by AC/DC with an altered ending.

The song segues into the film's closing credits. Dewey has been forgiven by the parents, and everything with the school has been resolved. Summer is dropped off by her mother at the "School of Rock," a newly opened after-school program where Dewey continues to coach the band itself while Ned teaches beginner music students. The credits roll as the class, breaking the fourth wall, sings "The movie is over, but we're still on screen."


  • Jack Black as Dewey Finn (lead singer, guitar)
  • Joan Cusack as Principal Rosalie "Roz" Mullins
  • Mike White as Ned Schneebly
  • Sarah Silverman as Patty Di Marco
  • Miranda Cosgrove as Summer "Tinkerbell" Hathaway
  • Joey Gaydos Jr. as Zack "Zack-Attack" Mooneyham (lead guitar)
  • Kevin Clark as Freddy "Spazzy McGee" Jones (drums)
  • Rebecca Brown as Katie "Posh Spice" (bass)
  • Robert Tsai as Lawrence "Mr. Cool" (keyboard)
  • Maryam Hassan as Tomika "Songbird", "Turkey Sub" (second voice, lead choir)
  • Caitlin Hale as Marta "Blondie" (choir)
  • Aleisha Allen as Alicia "Brace Face" (choir)
  • Brian Falduto as Billy "Fancy Pants" (stylist)
  • Zachary Infante as Gordon "Roadrunner" (assistant, lights)
  • James Hosey as Marco "Carrot Top" (assistant, special effects)
  • Angelo Massagli as Frankie "Tough Guy" (security)
  • Cole Hawkins as Leonard "Short Stop" (security)
  • Jordan-Claire Green as Michelle (groupie)
  • Veronica Afflerbach as Eleni (groupie)
  • Adam Pascal as Theo
  • Lucas Babin as Spider
  • Lucas Papaelias as Neil
  • Shawn Rodney as Shawn


A stage dive gone wrong incident involving Ian Astbury of rock band The Cult was witnessed by Jack Black, and was used as inspiration for a scene in School of Rock, in which the character Dewey Finn, stage dives and hits the floor; "I went to see a reunion, in Los Angeles, of The Cult; they were playing and Ian Astbury, the lead singer, took a dive. It was at The Viper Room, and it was just a bunch of jaded Los Angelinos out there, and they didn't catch him and he plummeted straight to the ground. Later I thought it was so hilarious. So that was put into the script."[3]

Many scenes from the movie were shot around the New York City area. The school portrayed in School of Rock is actually Main Hall at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York.[4] In the commentary, the kids say that every hallway scene in the movie was shot in exactly the same hallway. The tag lines are references to famous rock songs: "We Don't Need No Education" is a famous line from "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" by Pink Floyd and "Come On Feel the Noize" is taken from "Cum On Feel the Noize" by Slade. One of the theaters used in many of the shots was at Union County Performing Arts Center located in Rahway, New Jersey.



A soundtrack album of the same name was released on September 30, 2003. The film's director, Richard Linklater, scouted the country for talented 13-year-old musicians to play the rock-and-roll music that features on the soundtrack and in the film.

The soundtrack includes "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin, a band that historically has not allowed their songs to be used for commercial purposes, and rarely give permission for anyone to use their songs, one noted exception being filmmaker Cameron Crowe, who was the only person to write about them favorably while he was a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. To get permission, Richard Linklater came up with the idea to shoot a video on the stage used at the end of the film, with Jack Black begging the band for permission and the crowd cheering and chanting behind him. The video was sent directly to Led Zeppelin, and permission was granted for the song. The video can be seen on the DVD extras.

Music featured within the film[edit]

* Featured on the Soundtrack album


School of Rock has received critical acclaim, with Black's performance being praised by many critics. It received a "Certified Fresh" rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 192 reviews with an average rating of 7.8/10.[5] On Metacritic, the film has a rating of 82/100 based on 41 collected reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[6]

Box office performance[edit]

According to Box Office Mojo, School of Rock opened at #1 with a weekend gross of $19,622,714 from 2,614 theaters for an average of $7,507 per venue. In its second weekend, the film declined just 21 percent, earning another $15,487,832 after expanding to 2,929 theaters, averaging $5,288 per venue, and bringing the 10-day gross to $39,671,396. In its third weekend, it dropped only 28 percent, making another $11,006,233 after expanding once again to 2,951 theaters, averaging $3,730 per venue, and bringing the 17-day gross to $54,898,025. It spent a total of six weeks among the Top 10 films and eventually grossed $81,261,177 in the United States and Canada and another $50,015,772 in international territories for a total gross of $131,282,949 worldwide, almost four times its budget of $35 million.

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was nominated for several awards, including Black receiving Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Comedy or Musical (which he lost to Bill Murray for Lost in Translation), and winning an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.


Potential sequel[edit]

In 2008, Jack Black stated a sequel was being considered.[7] It was later reported that director Richard Linklater and producer Scott Rudin would return.[8] Mike White was returning as screenwriter, titled School of Rock 2: America Rocks, which picks up with Finn leading a group of summer school students on a cross-country field trip that delves into the history of rock 'n' roll.[9]

In 2012, Jack Black stated a sequel was unlikely, "I tried really hard to get all the pieces together. I wouldn't want to do it without the original writer and director, and we never all got together and saw eye-to-eye on what the script would be. It was not meant to be, unfortunately", but added, "Never say Never".[10]

Stage adaptation[edit]

On April 5, 2013, Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that he has bought the rights to School of Rock to a stage musical.[11][12] No other information, including cast, creative team, and production, is known yet.[13]

10-year reunion[edit]

On August 29, 2013, a 10 year anniversary screening of the film was held in Austin, Texas at The Paramount Theatre. Those in attendance included director Richard Linklater, Jack Black, Mike White, Miranda Cosgrove and the rest of the young cast members except for Cole Hawkins (who played Leonard).[14]

The event, hosted by The Austin Film Society and Cirrus Logic, included a red carpet, a full cast and crew Q&A after the screening, where the now-grown child stars discussed their current pursuits in life, and a VIP after-party performance by the School of Rock band during which "School of Rock" and "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" were played.[15]


  1. ^ "SCHOOL OF ROCK (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. October 8, 2003. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ "School of Rock (2003)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Jack Black Interview, indielondon, Q and A". Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ Balsamini, Dean (September 7, 2008). "Wagner College to celebrate 125th anniversary". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  5. ^ "School of Rock (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  6. ^ "School of Rock (2003)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Jack Black to return to class for School of Rock sequel". July 14, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  8. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (July 13, 2008). "Paramount goes back to School". Variety. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  9. ^ Tyler, Josh (July 14, 2008). "Jack Black Set for School of Rock 2". Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  10. ^ "JACK BLACK PLANNING SCHOOL OF ROCK REUNION". October 3, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Andrew Lloyd Webber to stage School of Rock musical". (BBC News). April 10, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Andrew Lloyd Webber to stage School of Rock". The Guardian. April 8, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Andrew Lloyd Webber To Bring SCHOOL OF ROCK To The Stage". Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  14. ^ Matthew, Jacobs (August 30, 2013). "'School Of Rock' Reunion Brings Jack Black, Miranda Cosgrove, Richard Linklater And More Together 10 Years Later". Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  15. ^ "'School of Rock' cast including Jack Black, Miranda Cosgrove reunites for 10 year anniversary". New York: NY Daily News. August 30, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2014. 

External links[edit]