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Booksmart (2019 film poster).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byOlivia Wilde
Produced by
Written by
Music byDan the Automator
CinematographyJason McCormick
Edited by
Distributed byUnited Artists Releasing
Release date
  • March 10, 2019 (2019-03-10) (SXSW)
  • May 24, 2019 (2019-05-24) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$6 million[2]
Box office$21.2 million[3]

Booksmart is a 2019 American coming-of-age comedy film directed by Olivia Wilde (in her feature directorial debut), from a screenplay by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman. It stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two graduating high school girls who set out to finally break the rules and party on their last day of classes; Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis also star. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay executive produced the film through Gloria Sanchez Productions.

The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States on May 24, 2019, by United Artists Releasing, to acclaim from critics.


Amy and Molly are two high school seniors who have been best friends since childhood but considered pretentious by their peers. Amy has been out for two years and has a crush on a girl named Ryan. Molly urges Amy to attempt to forge a relationship with her before they graduate. On the eve of their high school graduation, Molly confronts some of her peers after overhearing them talking about her in the bathroom. She tells them about how she got into a good school, but they reveal that despite partying they too also got into good colleges. Molly angrily tells Amy everything and says that they should have enjoyed their time in high school more. Molly convinces a reluctant Amy to join her in going to an end-of-year party held by Nick.

The pair realize that neither of them knows where Nick's party is. Molly calls Jared, a kindhearted and wealthy classmate, who thinks that they want to go to his party. He brings them to his yacht, where they stay for a few minutes before leaving after an encounter with his drug-crazed friend Gigi. Amy suggests that they go home, having fulfilled their plan to party before graduation, but Molly calls a "Malala", their code for unconditionally doing what the other wants to do, and Amy consents to continue with the night. The girls call a Lyft and are shocked to be picked up by their principal, Jordan Brown. After accidentally playing pornography through his car speakers, Brown drops them off at their classmate George's house, but it's a murder mystery party. The two encounter Gigi again, who reveals that the food that they ate on the yacht was drugged, and both Amy and Molly soon experience a bad trip and hallucinate that they are dolls. They escape the house and get the location of the party from a pizza delivery man. Amy accidentally leaves her phone in his car. Molly's phone is nearly dead, lasting just long enough to call for help from their teacher and friend Miss Fine, who gives them a change of clothes and a ride to Nick's party.

When they arrive, Amy goes to talk to Ryan and Molly goes to talk to Nick, her crush. Amy finds Ryan making out with Nick; embarrassed, Amy wants to leave, calling her own Malala, but Molly refuses to grant it, thinking she has a chance with Nick. This sends Amy into a rage. She reveals that she was planning on taking a gap year to travel to Botswana, as she resents how Molly always tries to take control her life. The two loudly argue in front of their classmates, and Amy goes to the bathroom with a panic attack. She is found by Hope, whom many students find cruel. They are at first combative towards each other, but then Amy kisses Hope and they almost have sex but Amy vomits on her, ruining their moment. Molly is driven home by Triple A, a popular student with a reputation for promiscuity, and the two bond over the stereotypes that both have suffered from.

Molly wakes up on graduation day feeling ashamed of what happened between her and Amy. She discovers on her phone that everyone is talking about how cool Amy was for distracting police officers when they came to shut down Nick's party. Molly visits Amy in jail and apologizes for her manipulative actions, leading to the pair's reconciliation. The two discover that the pizza driver was a serial killer and they trade their information to get Amy out of jail. They take Jared's car to graduation where Molly gives an improvised farewell speech and kisses Jared, receiving a round of applause.

A few days later, Molly helps Amy prepare for her trip to Botswana. Hope comes to the door and gives Amy her number. Molly drives Amy to the airport and they share a tearful goodbye. As Molly drives away, Amy jumps in front of her car, saying she has time to hang out before her flight, suggesting they get pancakes.




An early version of the screenplay, Book Smart by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, was circulated in 2009 and appeared on the 2009 Black List[5]; in 2014 Susanna Fogel revised the screenplay, rewriting one lead character as a lesbian and revising the story so the girls are not seeking boyfriends for the prom, but are going to an after-prom party.[6]

Following the revisions, Annapurna Pictures purchased the screenplay and approached Gloria Sanchez Productions to produce it; Gloria Sanchez' Jessica Elbaum pitched the screenplay to Olivia Wilde, who read the screenplay and two days later expressed admiration for it.[6] Megan Ellison, Chelsea Bernard, David Distenfeld, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Elbaum would serve as producers on the film.[7] Screenwriter Katie Silberman was hired for more revisions in spring 2018, and to update the story.[6][8] Silberman explored a new concept:

What if the two friends realized that they did high school all wrong? What if they realized that everyone they thought just partied and wasted their high-school years were going to Ivy League schools just like them?[6]

According to Silberman, "Olivia's mantra to all of us was that high school is war".[9] Wilde also envisioned a "a drug trip where the girls turned into Barbie dolls" and gave Silberman the responsibility of where to incorporate it into the story.[10]


In February 2018, Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein joined the cast of the film.[11] In May 2018, Billie Lourd and Skyler Gisondo joined the cast of the film.[12][13] That same month, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Mike O'Brien, Mason Gooding, Noah Galvin, Diana Silvers, Austin Crute, Eduardo Franco, Molly Gordon, and Nico Hiraga joined the cast of the film.[14]

Silvers was initially asked to audition for Ryan, but felt her appearance was not ideal for the character and auditioned for Hope instead.[15] Wilde also urged Feldstein and Dever to live together to develop a rapport.[16] The two actresses were roommates in Los Angeles for ten weeks.[17] Wilde also asked the cast to read the screenplay and signal if they found dialogue that felt "inauthentic ... [and] rewrite it in your own voice".[17] Silberman continued to write after casting, finding it easy to come up with dialogue to fit Feldstein and Dever.[8] Silberman particularly credited the complimentary language the characters use to Feldstein, who frequently posted "I have no breath" to Instagram.[10]


Principal photography began in May 2018 around the San Fernando Valley.[18][19]

Wilde and production designer Katie Byron decorated the bedrooms seen in the film, including with trophies and depictions of prominent American women Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[10]


Director Olivia Wilde, co-writer Katie Silberman, and producer Jessica Elbaum at the South by Southwest Booksmart panel

It had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2019.[20] It was released wide in the United States on May 24, 2019.[21] It was also released in France on Netflix the same day.[22]


Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Booksmart was released alongside Aladdin and Brightburn, and was projected to gross around $12 million from 2,505 theaters in its four-day opening weekend.[23] The film made $2.5 million on its first day, including $875,000 from Thursday night previews. It ended up underperforming, debuting to just $6.9 million (a four-day total of $8.7 million), finishing in sixth place.[24] Industry publications insisted that although the targeted young female demographic did turn out to the film, it should have begun with a limited release and expanded, similar to the R-rated, female-led high school comedy Lady Bird in 2017, and that Booksmart failed to stand out in the crowded marketplace.[25][26][24] In its second weekend the film made $3.3 million, dropping 52% and finishing in eighth.[27]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 270 reviews, with an average rating of 8.28/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy."[28] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 80%.[24]

Peter Debruge of Variety praised the ensemble cast as well as Wilde's direction, calling the film "the best high school buddy comedy since Superbad".[5] Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, calling it a "refreshingly original take on the raunchy coming-of-age comedy" and praising Feldstein and Dever's chemistry.[30] A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, calling it "sharp but not mean, warm without feeling too soft or timid", and referring to Feldstein and Dever as "a classic comedy duo".[31] Emily Yoshida of Vulture also gave the film a positive review, writing that it "manages to be inclusive and progressive, without being precious about anything or sacrificing an ounce of humor".[32] Alissa Wilkinson of Vox awarded the film a score of 4/5, writing that Booksmart feels memorable and relatable because it taps into the truth that "When you’re a teenager [...] your biggest enemy is usually yourself."[33]


Wilde was named as one of the Directors to Watch at the Palm Springs International Film Festival;[34] she also won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival.[35]


  1. ^ "Booksmart". South by Southwest. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  2. ^ "Sorry Folks, 'Booksmart' Was Set Up For Box Office Disappointment & Politicizing It Isn't Helping". The Playlist. June 2, 2019. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  3. ^ "Booksmart (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  4. ^ Zuckerman, Esther (May 9, 2019). "What It's Like Playing Mortal Enemies in 'Booksmart' for Three Real-Life Best Friends". Thrillist. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Peter Debruge (March 11, 2019). "'Booksmart' Review: The Best High School Buddy Comedy Since 'Superbad'". Variety. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Guerrasi, Jason (May 25, 2019). "How 'Booksmart' went from a 2009 script collecting dust to this year's must-see movie of the summer". Business Insider. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Gonzalez, Umberto (February 16, 2018). "Olivia Wilde to Make Feature Directing Debut With Booksmart". The Wrap. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Erbland, Kate (May 21, 2019). "How 'Booksmart' Writer Katie Silberman Turned a Beloved Years-Old Script Into the Movie of the Moment". Indiewire. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  9. ^ Cipriani, Casey. "How 'Booksmart' Writer Katie Silberman Captured The All-Out "War" That Is High School". Bustle. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Lindsay, Kathryn (May 28, 2019). "Booksmart's Screenwriter Katie Silberman May Be The New Rom-Com Queen". Refinery29. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 16, 2018). "Olivia Wilde Sets Directorial Debut Booksmart With Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein to Star". Variety. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  12. ^ Hixon, Michael (May 9, 2018). "Manhattan Beach's Skyler Gisondo from 'Santa Clarita Diet' to star in indie film". The Beach Reporter. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Bentley, Jean (May 18, 2018). "Billie Lourd To Return To American Horror Story For Season 8, Joins Booksmart Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  14. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 22, 2018). "Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Others Join Olivia Wilde's 'Booksmart' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Handler, Rachel (May 24, 2019). "Diana Silvers on Booksmart's Groundbreaking Sex Scene". Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  16. ^ Huver, Scott (May 14, 2019). "Why 'Booksmart' Stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever Moved In Together During Filming". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Kelly, Mary Louise (May 24, 2019). "'Booksmart' Director Olivia Wilde: Teen Movies 'Made Me Excited To Be Young'". NPR. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  18. ^ Silvers, Diana (May 1, 2018). "Sending endless love to the Booksmart peeps as they embark on week 1 of filming!! Can't wait to join you guys on set soon!! 🤩🤓 @BeanieFeldstein @KaitlynDever @oliviawilde ...and everyone else that I haven't met yet/don't know who's playing who 😬". Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  19. ^ Strauss, Bob (May 17, 2019). "The new movie 'Booksmart' was filmed in and around the San Fernando Valley. Here's where". Daily Mail. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  20. ^ Kilday, Gregg (January 16, 2019). "SXSW: Olivia Wilde, Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey to Premiere New Work". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  21. ^ "Booksmart (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  22. ^ Audra Schroeder (May 28, 2019). "The middling box office showing for 'Booksmart' isn't Netflix's fault". The Daily Dot.
  23. ^ Jeremy Fuster (May 21, 2019). "Will 'Aladdin' Dodge the 'Blue Will Smith' Jokes and Find Box Office Riches?". TheWrap. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  24. ^ a b c Anthony D'Alessandro (May 26, 2019). "'Aladdin' Memorial Day Magic Carpet Ride Soars Higher With $112M+ Opening – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  25. ^ Mia Galuppo (May 29, 2019). "Box Office: 'Booksmart' Gambles With Wide Release and Stumbles". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  26. ^ Sharf, Zack; Sharf, Zack (28 May 2019). "'Booksmart' Box Office Struggle Divides Industry Over Annapurna's Marketing and Release Strategy".
  27. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 2, 2019). "'Godzilla' Loses Teeth With $49M Opening, But Counter-Programming Excels For First Time This Summer With 'Rocketman' & 'Ma'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  28. ^ "Booksmart (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  29. ^ "Booksmart Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  30. ^ Roeper, Richard (May 21, 2019). "'Booksmart': The smart girls cut loose over one wild but insightful night of partying". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  31. ^ A. O. Scott (May 22, 2019). "Review: 'Booksmart' Crashes the Party and Aces the Test". The New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  32. ^ Emily Yoshida (May 24, 2019). "Booksmart Is a Goddamn Delight, and a Major Moment in the Teen Movie Canon". Vulture. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  33. ^ Alissa Wilkinson (May 24, 2019). "Booksmart review: Like Superbad, but with girls, and better". Vox. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  34. ^ "Variety's 10 Directors to Watch". The Desert Sun. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  35. ^ "SFFILM Wraps 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival After 14 Days of Films, Conversations, and Celebrations". San Francisco International Film Festival. Retrieved May 26, 2019.

External links[edit]