Emma (2020 film)

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A blonde woman wearing a long yellow coat, against a countryside background
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAutumn de Wilde
Produced by
Screenplay byEleanor Catton
Based onEmma
by Jane Austen
Music by
CinematographyChristopher Blauvelt
Edited byNick Emerson
Distributed by
Release date
  • 14 February 2020 (2020-02-14) (United Kingdom)
  • 21 February 2020 (2020-02-21) (United States)
Running time
124 minutes
  • United Kingdom[1]
  • United States[1]
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$26 million[3][4]

Emma.[a] is a 2020 period comedy-drama film directed by Autumn de Wilde, from a screenplay by Eleanor Catton, based on Jane Austen's 1815 novel of the same name.

The film follows the story of Miss Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy), a wealthy and elegant young woman living with her father in Regency-era England. Something of a ‘queen bee’ in her sleepy little town, Emma amuses herself with matchmaking and meddles in the romantic lives of those closest to her. In this glittering satire of social class, Emma must navigate her way through the challenges of growing up, friendship strife and misguided matches before she can recognise the love that has been there all along and earn her 'happily ever after'.

It also stars Johnny Flynn, Josh O'Connor, Callum Turner, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, and Bill Nighy.

It was released in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2020, and in the United States on 21 February 2020. It received generally favourable reviews from critics, and grossed $26 million worldwide. The film received two Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 93rd Academy Awards.


In Regency-era England, wealthy and beautiful Emma Woodhouse searches for a new companion after her governess, Miss Taylor, marries and becomes Mrs. Weston. Emma settles on Harriet Smith, a younger girl whom Emma supposes is the unclaimed child of a gentleman; Harriet's parents are unknown, but her education has been provided for. Emma learns that Mr. Robert Martin, a tenant farmer of the brother of Emma's brother-in-law, Mr. Knightley, has proposed to Harriet. Though claiming she will not interfere, Emma manipulates Harriet into declining Mr. Martin's offer of marriage, much to Harriet's distress. Emma believes that Mr. Elton, the local vicar, is in love with Harriet and encourages Harriet to transfer her hopes to him, despite Mr. Knightley's warning that she should not involve herself in the situation.

At Christmas time, Emma's older sister and Mr. Knightley's younger brother come to visit. After everyone leaves dinner with the Westons early, Emma finds herself alone in a carriage with Mr. Elton, who declares his love for her. Emma promptly refuses him, and Mr. Elton disappears for six weeks, eventually returning with a wife. Two much-talked-about members of Emma's social circle appear: Jane Fairfax, the governess niece of Miss Bates, and Frank Churchill, Mr. Weston's son from his first marriage. Emma grows jealous of Jane but is entranced by Frank.

Frank's arrival prompts the Westons to hold a ball, where Mr. Elton embarrasses Harriet by pointedly refusing to dance with her. She is rescued by Mr. Knightley, who asks her to dance. Emma and Mr. Knightley also dance together, awakening romantic feelings between them. Though Emma leaves before Mr. Knightley can speak to her, he runs to her home only for their meeting to be interrupted by Frank, who has rescued Harriet after being set upon by Romanichal Travellers. Harriet intimates to Emma that she has fallen in love again, leading Emma to believe Harriet is in love with Frank. Emma again vows not to interfere but manipulates circumstances so that Harriet and Frank may spend more time together.

Emma tries to spend more time with Mr. Knightley and is surprised when he repeatedly ignores her. On a picnic with their entire party of social acquaintances, Frank urges them to play a game to amuse Emma, who unthinkingly insults Miss Bates, leading the party to disband in discomfort. Mr. Knightley rebukes Emma for her behaviour, and a humiliated Emma apologizes to Miss Bates, who accepts her apology without question.

Frank Churchill's wealthy aunt dies, and he is no longer required to be at her beck and call. The Westons reveal he was secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax and waiting for his aunt, who opposed the match, to die. The Westons had hoped he would marry Emma, but Emma is only distressed on account of Harriet. Emma breaks the news to Harriet, who reveals that she is actually in love with Mr. Knightley. Harriet realizes that Emma herself is in love with Mr. Knightley.

Mr. Knightley goes to Emma to comfort her about the news and reveal that he is in love with her and hopes to marry her. Initially pleased with his marriage offer, Emma develops a nosebleed when she realizes how upset Harriet will be. Interfering one last time, she goes to Mr. Martin to make amends, offering him a portrait of Harriet she drew herself. Harriet tells Emma she has accepted Mr. Martin's offer of marriage and that her father has revealed himself now that she is of age; he is not a gentleman, but a tradesman who makes galoshes. Emma congratulates Harriet and invites her and her father to her home.

Though Emma and Mr. Knightley are very much in love, Emma is distressed at the thought of leaving her father alone. To accommodate her wishes, Mr. Knightley suggests that he join them there rather than have Emma quit her father's home. Emma happily agrees, and the two are married.



In October 2018, Anya Taylor-Joy was cast in the film adaptation of Emma, with Autumn de Wilde making her directorial debut with the film.[6] In December 2018, Johnny Flynn joined the cast of the film.[7]

In March 2019, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Josh O'Connor, Callum Turner, Miranda Hart, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson and Tanya Reynolds joined the cast of the film.[8] Alexandra Byrne was costume designer for the film.[9] Principal photography began on 18 March 2019.[10][11]

Firle Place in Sussex was used for the exterior of Emma's home.[12] Other filming locations included Lower Slaughter (exteriors) in the Cotswolds standing in for the village of Highbury, Kingston Bagpuize House in Oxfordshire, Wilton House near Salisbury in Wiltshire and Chavenage House at Beverston, Gloucestershire.[12]

Autumn de Wilde decided the title of the film should have a period attached to signify its being a period piece.[5]


In the film, Jane Fairfax outshines Emma by performing the third movement from Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 12 on the fortepiano. A trained pianist, Amber Anderson performed the piece for the soundtrack, and had to learn it twice over to adapt her technique for the shorter keys of the period instrument.[13]

The credit sequence features an original song by Johnny Flynn called "Queen Bee". Isobel Waller-Bridge asked Flynn to write a song for the film. Performed in a similar style to the film's period, Flynn wrote "Queen Bee" to convey Knightley's perspective on Emma.[14]

The soundtrack features many a cappella recordings of folk songs by artists like Maddy Prior and the Watersons. Autumn de Wilde had an immediate conception of the film's music as being rooted in folk music. She also conceived the orchestral score should emulate Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf where each character is personified clearly.[15]

Anya Taylor-Joy, Anderson, and Flynn all sing onscreen during the course of the film. Taylor-Joy took pains to explain that her performance of "The Last Rose of Summer" uses an affected style that she imagines Emma Woodhouse would have used to charm her audience.[16]


Emma was released in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2020, coinciding with Valentine's Day, and was released in the United States on 21 February 2020.[17]

The film was released on 20 March digitally in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom through Premium VOD in streaming platforms. This was because of movie theatre closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.[18] The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 19 May 2020.[19]


Box office[edit]

Emma grossed $10.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $15.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $26 million.[3][4]

In North America, the film made $230,000 from five theaters in its opening weekend for a per-venue average of $46,000, the highest of 2020 at that point.[20] The film went wide two weeks later, grossing $5 million from 1,565 theaters and finishing sixth at the box office.

In Spain the film has grossed a total of €228,000 ($285,000).[21]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 87% based on 254 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.3/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Other adaptations may do a better job of consistently capturing the spirit of the classic source material, but Jane Austen fans should still find a solid match in this Emma."[22] On Metacritic, the film was assigned a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[23] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, and PostTrak reported it received an average 3 out of 5 stars, with 44% of people they surveyed saying they would definitely recommend it.[21]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards 25 April 2021 Best Costume Design Alexandra Byrne Nominated [24][25]
Best Makeup and Hairstyling Marese Langan, Laura Allen & Claudia Stolze Nominated
British Academy Film Awards 11 April 2021 Best Costume Design Alexandra Byrne Nominated [26]
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards December 13, 2020 Best New Filmmaker Autumn de Wilde Runner-up [27]
Chicago Film Critics Association December 21, 2020 Best Art Direction Kave Quinn and Stella Fox Nominated [28]
Best Costume Design Alexandra Byrne Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards April 13, 2021 Excellence in Period Film Nominated [30]
Critics' Choice Awards 7 March 2021 Best Costume Design Nominated [31]
Best Production Design Kave Quinn and Stella Fox Nominated
Best Makeup and Hairstyling Emma Nominated
Golden Globe Awards 28 February 2021 Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Anya Taylor-Joy Nominated [32]
Hollywood Critics Association Awards 5 March 2021 Best Costume Design Alexandra Byrne Nominated [33]
Best Production Design Kave Quinn Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards 2 July 2020 Best Picture Emma Nominated [34][35]
Best Actress Anya Taylor-Joy Nominated
Best Female Director Autumn de Wilde Runner-up
Best Adapted Screenplay Eleanor Catton Nominated
Satellite Awards 15 February 2021 Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Anya Taylor-Joy Nominated [36]
Best Costume Design Alexandra Byrne Nominated
St. Louis Film Critics Association 17 January 2021 Best Comedy Film Emma Nominated [37]
Best Production Design Kave Quinn Nominated


  1. ^ The title of the film has a period attached to signify its being a period piece.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Emma". BFI.
  2. ^ Burwick, Kevin (12 May 2020). "Emma Blu-Ray Sneak Peek Goes Behind the Scenes with Anya Taylor-Joy and Mia Goth [Exclusive]". Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Emma. (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Emma. - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  5. ^ a b Carr, Flora (14 February 2020). "Emma. director Autumn de Wilde explains the film's unusual punctuation". Radio Times.
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (25 October 2018). "Anya Taylor-Joy to Star in Jane Austen Adaptation 'Emma' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  7. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (20 December 2018). "Johnny Flynn Joins Focus Features-Working Title's 'Emma'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  8. ^ Grater, Tom (21 March 2019). "Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Josh O'Connor, Callum Turner board 'Emma' for Working Title, Blueprint (exclusive)". Screen International. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Alexandra Byrne". Independent Talent. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Production Weekly" (PDF). Production Weekly. No. 1123. 20 December 2018. p. 19. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  11. ^ de Wilde, Autumn (18 March 2019). "DAY ONE of production complete". Instagram.com. Retrieved 19 March 2019. I am thrilled to announce that I am directing Jane Austen’s "Emma" starring @anyataylorjoy for @focusfeatures @workingtitlefilms & @blueprint.pictures // screenplay by eleanorcatton // photo by @anyataylorjoy // @emmafilm // "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." // #emma #hansomecleverandrich
  12. ^ a b Medd, James. "Where was 'Emma' filmed?". CN Traveller.
  13. ^ "Amber Anderson interview - how the Emma actor went from Forres to film". The Scotsman. 10 February 2020.
  14. ^ Lenker, Maureen Lee. "Johnny Flynn on writing an original song for Emma and the Emma in his life", Entertainment Weekly. 21 February 2020.
  15. ^ Schwedel, Heather. "How Working With Rock Stars Prepared Autumn de Wilde to Direct Emma", Slate. 5 March 2020.
  16. ^ Crow, David. "Anya Taylor-Joy on Last Night in Soho, Edgar Wright, and Emma’s Voice". Den of Geek. 20 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Emma". Launching Films. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  18. ^ Johnson, Save (20 March 2020). "Watch The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma at home starting today". CNET. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  19. ^ "What's New on DVD, Blu-ray, Digital and VOD – May 5, 2020". Tribute.ca.
  20. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (23 February 2020). "'Emma' Delivers Charming Opening, 'Impractical Jokers: The Movie' Laughs Its Way To $2M Debut – Specialty Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  21. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (8 March 2020). "'Onward' Seeing Blasé $40M Domestic Opening, $68M WW: Are Coronavirus Fears Impacting B.O.? – Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Emma. (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  23. ^ "Emma. Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  24. ^ Whitten, Sarah (15 March 2021). "Netflix earns most Academy Award nominations in a year where diversity shines". CNBC.
  25. ^ Working Title Films [@Working_Title] (15 March 2021). "Such news! We're thrilled to announce that EMMA. has received two Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  26. ^ "Bafta Film Awards 2021: The nominations in full". bbc.com. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  27. ^ Davis, Clayton (13 December 2020). "'Nomadland' Named Best Picture at Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Paul Raci and Yuh-jung Youn Among Winners". Variety. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  28. ^ "Chloé Zhao's Nomadland Leads Chicago Film Critics Association 2020 Award Nominations". chicagofilmcritics.org. Chicago Film Critics Association. 18 December 2020. Archived from the original on 18 December 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  29. ^ "Nomadland Leads Chicago Film Critics Association 2020 Awards". chicagofilmcritics.org. Chicago Film Critics Association. 21 December 2020. Archived from the original on 22 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  30. ^ "Costume Designer Guild Nominations Include 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' 'Emma,' 'Promising Young Woman' – IndieWire". Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  31. ^ Davis, Clayton (8 February 2021). "Critics Choice Awards: 'Mank' Leads With 12 Nominations, Netflix Makes History With Four Best Picture Nominees". Variety. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  32. ^ "Nominations for the 78th Golden Globe Awards (2021) Announced". www.goldenglobes.com. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  33. ^ Menzel, Scott (2 February 2021). "The 4th Annual HCA Film Awards Nominations Have Been Announced". Hollywood Critics Association. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  34. ^ Menzel, Scott (29 June 2020). "The 3rd Annual Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards Nominations". Hollywood Critics Association.
  35. ^ "The 3rd Annual Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards Winners". Hollywood Critics Association. 2 July 2020.
  36. ^ Van Blaricom, Mirjana (1 February 2021). "25th Satellite Awards Nominees for Motion Pictures and Television Announced". International Press Academy. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  37. ^ "The 2020 St. Louis Film Critics Association (StLFCA) Nominations". Next Best Picture. Archived from the original on 12 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.

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