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
Starring Katie Holmes
Marc Blucas
Michael Keaton
Narrated by Forest Whitaker
Music by Michael Kamen
Blake Neely
Cinematography Toyomichi Kurita
Edited by Richard Chew
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
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 daughter of United States president John MacKenzie (Michael Keaton). She has been in the public eye her whole life. Having to deal with lack of privacy and public scrutiny for the most ridiculous things. She has recently spent a sheltered existence in the White House with her parents, but her father is usually too busy to look after her. Accompanied by Secret Service agents everywhere she goes, including the ladies room, Samantha finally believes she has the chance to break out of her cocoon when she is given the opportunity to attend college in California.

Though still followed by Secret Service agents, Samantha at last feels as if she is leading a normal life. She ends up sharing a dorm with boy-crazed Mia (Amerie), and the two instantly strike up a begrudging partnership. In a classroom, Samantha meets James (Blucas), who doesn't treat her differently because of who her father is. Samantha feels that James is the icing on the cake of her new life at the college. But there is more to James than she initially thought, and Samantha must learn that the two sides of her life do not have to be separate from each other in order for her entire life to be content.


  • Katie Holmes as Samantha MacKenzie, the President's only daughter, who leaves the White House in Washington, D.C. and heads to California.
  • Marc Blucas as James Lansome, a college student who has more going on than he initially lets on.
  • Amerie as Mia Thompson, Samantha's feisty roommate who finds it difficult when Samantha steals her spotlight.
  • Michael Keaton as John MacKenzie, Samantha's father, who is also the President of the United States. He has a difficult time letting go of his only daughter. He is also on the road campaigning for his re-election.
  • Margaret Colin as First Lady Melanie MacKenzie, Samantha's mother, who is more willing to let Samantha leave, but she still firmly sticks by her husband's decisions.
  • Lela Rochon as Liz Pappas, the President's personal secretary, who is often caught between Samantha and her father in arguments.
  • Michael Milhoan as Agent Bock, one of Samantha's personal Secret Service Agents, who follows her every move.
  • Dwayne Adway as Agent Dylan, Samantha's other soft-spoken personal Secret Service Agent, who along with Agent Bock, protects Samantha while she is attending school.
  • Vera Wang as herself.


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. It currently holds an 8% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 84 reviews (7 positive, 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. Indeed, Chasing Liberty's working title was First Daughter. This plot too involved the President's daughter trying 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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