First Daughter (2004 film)

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First Daughter
First Daughter poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Forest Whitaker
Produced by John Davis
Mike Karz
Wyck Godfrey
Screenplay by Jessica Bendinger
Kate Kondell
Story by Jessica Bendinger
Jerry O'Connell
Narrated by Forest Whitaker
Music by Michael Kamen
Blake Neely
Cinematography Toyomichi Kurita
Edited by Richard Chew
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
September 24, 2004 (2004-09-24)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $10.4 million.[1]

First Daughter is a 2004 American romantic comedy released by 20th Century Fox. It stars Katie Holmes as Samantha MacKenzie, daughter of the President of the United States, who enrolls at a college and develops a relationship with another student at the college played by Marc Blucas. The film follows Samantha as she is given a new sense of freedom during her time away from the White House, and the advantages and disadvantages of her college life and education. It co-stars Michael Keaton as the President of the United States and Amerie Rogers as Samantha's roommate, Mia Thompson.

The film was directed by Forest Whitaker, written by Jessica Bendinger, Kate Kondell, and Jerry O'Connell, and produced by John Davis. Whitaker likened First Daughter to a fairy tale, characterizing it as "the story of a princess who leaves the 'castle' [the White House] to go out in the world to discover who and what she is."[2] The film had languished in "development hell" for several years, and was further delayed even after its completion.[citation needed] The film was not a commercial success upon its eventual release, and received overwhelmingly negative reviews.


Samantha MacKenzie (Katie Holmes) is the only daughter of United States president John MacKenzie (Michael Keaton). Because of her father's political career, she has been in the public eye her entire life and spent most of her high school years in the White House. Having to deal with lack of privacy and public scrutiny for the most ridiculous things, Samantha has had a sheltered existence and her father has trouble letting her have more freedom yet is too busy to spend time with her. Though her mother Melanie is supportive, she still stands by her husband's decisions, leaving Samantha feeling restricted from having a normal life. Accompanied by Secret Service agents everywhere she goes, Samantha finally believes she has the chance to break out of her cocoon when she is given the opportunity to attend college in California.

In California, Samantha ends up sharing a dorm with boy-crazed Mia Thompson, who finds it difficult when Samantha steals her spotlight, and they form a begrudging partnership. She becomes interested in James Lansome, a college student and Sam's student advisor, since he does not treat her differently because of her father. Unknown to Sam, James is actually a Secret Service agent posing as a residential advisor in order to watch over her.



The film was in development as far back as March 1999, when actor Jerry O'Connell sold a screenplay he had written to Regency Enterprises for a six figure sum, with O'Connell also intending to star in the film. Originally to shoot in the summer of that year, the project was pushed back to the spring of 2000 (under the direction of Brian Robbins) to allow O'Connell to film Mission to Mars, and then Rob Thomas was hired to rewrite the script.[3][4] For unknown reasons, the film was not produced at that time, although O'Connell later received a "story by" credit for the film from the Writers Guild of America. (The film's original producer, Mike Karz, was also credited as a producer in the final print of the film.)

Filming began on June 2, 2003[5] on a budget of $30 million,[6] and continued into July.[7] The film was shot on location in Southern California. For the film's opening scene where Samantha descending a red-carpeted stairway, the lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre in Los Angeles was used, while the auditorium of the building was used for a scene where Samantha and James go to see a movie. On-campus scenes were shot at UCLA. The Huntington Library in San Marino stood in for the exterior of the building in the first scene.[8]


The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 8% approval rating at based on reviews from 84 critics, 7 positive, and 77 negative.[9] A number of viewers and reviewers pointed out that the film's plot was very similar to that of the film Chasing Liberty, which coincidentally had the working title First Daughter, and also involved a plot where the President's daughter tried to experience life away from the White House.

The film was a financial failure. Opening in fifth place at the box office,[10] First Daughter ended up with just $9.1 million in domestic ticket sales and $10.4 million worldwide.[1] It was Katie Holmes's second least successful mainstream film after Teaching Mrs. Tingle.[11] The film performed better on home video and DVD, where it made $13.14 million in combined rentals and sales.[12]


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