Five Feet Apart

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Five Feet Apart
A boy and a girl facing each other.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJustin Baldoni
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyFrank G. DeMarco
Edited byAngela M. Catanzaro
Music by
  • CBS Films
  • Welle Entertainment
  • Wayfarer Entertainment
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • March 15, 2019 (2019-03-15)
Running time
116 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[2]
Box office$92.6 million[3]

Five Feet Apart is a 2019 American romantic drama film directed by Justin Baldoni (in his directorial debut)[4] and written by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. The film was inspired by Claire Wineland, who suffered from cystic fibrosis.[5] Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse play two young patients with cystic fibrosis who try to have a relationship despite being forced to stay six feet apart from each other. The film was released in the United States on March 15, 2019 by CBS Films via Lionsgate.[6] It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $92 million worldwide.


Teenagers Stella Grant and Will Newman have cystic fibrosis (CF), a progressive genetic disorder that damages organs and makes patients vulnerable to infections. Because of their compromised immune systems, patients with CF should not get closer to each other than six feet. Stella, who copes with her illness by trying to maintain control of her daily regimen, takes her medication religiously and follows doctors' orders precisely. Will, a cynical rebel whose prognosis is grim, is much more lackadaisical, an attitude that frustrates the meticulous Stella. Will has contracted B. cepacia, and is part of a new drug trial, but the infection makes him ineligible for a lung transplant. Stella has been on the transplant list for a very long time. When she discovers that Will is not doing his treatments, she tries to help him. In return, Will only asks her for permission to draw a picture of her. Will begins to watch Stella's social media videos. Over time, they begin doing their treatments together. Will and Stella fall in love, but they can't get closer than six feet to each other. Stella's G-tube becomes infected, and she has to undergo surgery to get it replaced. Will discovers that Stella's sister Abby, who unfailingly cared for Stella, died from a botched daredevil stunt one year ago. Because Abby is dead, Stella must face the operation alone, while wracked with survivor guilt. After learning of Abby's death, Will shows up to support Stella, and he sings her the song Abby always sang to her before surgery.

As Will leaves Stella's surgical prep room, he is caught by nurse Barb. Barb tells him a story about two people with CF who died after they fell in love and broke the six-foot rule, contaminating each other. Will realizes he loves Stella too much to endanger her, so he tells her he can't see her anymore. Stella becomes upset and angry but eventually plans to meet Will. She decides to take back one foot that CF has stolen from her, and carries a pool cue that measures exactly five feet so she can keep precisely that far away from Will.[7]

On Will's birthday, Stella's best friend Poe, another CF patient, dies. As an act of rebellion against CF, the two leave the hospital to visit the lights that Stella could see from her hospital room, as Stella has long dreamed of doing.

While away from the hospital, Stella receives a text that her lung transplant is en route, which she ignores. She falls through the ice of a frozen pond as she and Will leave to go back to the hospital. She struggles but is near death when Will reaches into the water and pulls her out. Even though saliva contact is very dangerous for two people with CF, he gives her CPR to save her life. Stella survives, and Will and Stella are brought back to the hospital. Will fears that CPR he gave her may have infected her with B. cepacia, but Stella's lung transplant goes smoothly, and miraculously, she has not contracted B. cepacia.

Meanwhile, Will finds out that the drug trial he has been on has not been working for him. While Stella is still under anesthesia following the transplant, her parents, Will's mother, and the nurses and doctors help Will set up the lights outside of Stella's room. After realizing he would likely infect her, Will decides to say a final goodbye to Stella and confesses his love for her. Before he leaves, he gives her his sketchbook of drawings he had done of her and her friends during their stay in the hospital.



In January 2017, Tobias Iaconis and Mikki Daughtry sold their untitled screenplay to CBS Films for Justin Baldoni to produce and direct.[8]

Baldoni first became involved with cystic fibrosis when he directed the documentary My Last Days. He met YouTuber Claire Wineland and subsequently hired her as a consultant for the film. Wineland died from complications of a lung transplant for CF in September, 2018, a few months after filming was completed.[9]

In January 2018, Cole Sprouse was cast to star in the film, now entitled Five Feet Apart.[10][11] In April of that year, Haley Lu Richardson was also set to star, and Moisés Arias joined in a supporting role.[12][13] Principal production began a month later on May 25 in New Orleans, Louisiana[14][15] and concluded on June 26.[16]

The film's title refers to the "six foot rule", a guideline from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation which states that cystic fibrosis patients should be kept at least six feet (1.8 m) apart from each other, to lower the risk of cross-infection. In 2020, about a year after the movie's release, a similar guideline for social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19 would become nearly universal.[17]

A novelization of the screenplay by Rachael Lippincott was published in November, 2018.[18]

Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian composed the score. The soundtrack was released on Lakeshore Records.


The novel was published in November 2018 which allowed printing to begin in February of the following year. The first print run consisted of 90,000.[19] These copies were used to promote the upcoming release of the film.

The film was released on March 15, 2019, by CBS Films via Lionsgate.[20] The studio spent $12 million on prints and advertising.[21]


Box office[edit]

Five Feet Apart grossed $45.7 million in the United States and Canada and $34.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $80.1 million, against a production budget of $7 million.[3]

In the United States and Canada, Five Feet Apart was released alongside Captive State and Wonder Park, and was projected to gross $6–10 million from 2,600 theaters in its opening weekend.[22][2] The film made $5.4 million on its first day, including $715,000 from Thursday night previews. Its three-day gross was $13.1 million, finishing third, behind Captain Marvel and Wonder Park.[21] The film fell 35% in its second weekend, grossing $8.5 million, and dropped another 27% in its third weekend, earning $6.3 million.[23][24]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 53% based on 128 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Elevated considerably by Haley Lu Richardson's performance but bogged down by clichés, Five Feet Apart doesn't tug at the heartstrings quite as deftly as it should."[25] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[26] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while filmgoers at PostTrak gave it 3+12 out of 5 stars.[21]

Andrew Barker of Variety praised the performance of Richardson, which he called "a star turn," though described the film as an "otherwise formulaic teen romance."[27] Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times praised Richardson for the depth and range of her performance.[28] Caroline Siede of The A.V. Club commended the lead performances but said "In the end... even Richardson and Sprouse can't fully overcome the clumsy mawkishness around them."[29]

Response from cystic fibrosis community[edit]

Responses from the cystic fibrosis community were mixed. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation welcomed the opportunity to raise awareness about the struggle many patients experience with the disease,[30] while others found fault with the film's depiction of medically dangerous behavior.[31] Others voiced concern about a terminal illness being romanticized and trivialized as a Hollywood teen romance plot device.[32]

One doctor from Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital voiced their concern by stating the movie had false premises on the "six foot rule" to begin with.[33] The doctor shared that the "six foot rule" was only accurate when outdoors.[33] They continued to share that when indoors, the "six foot rule" would be ineffective due to the fact that hospitals have one AC system, spreading the bacteria in a closed system.[33] According to Healthy Balance, by the University of Virginia, other myths about Cystic Fibrosis are exposed during the film. It is portrayed that Cystic Fibrosis is contagious by cough when in fact, it is not.[34] As well, the film shows the two lovestruck teens with oxygen tanks when that is not the case for everyone with cystic fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis can be diagnosed as unnoticable.[34]

The film was promoted using Instagram, where the studio paid influencers to post about hardships involving love and physical distance.[32] Many of the posts discussed family members who lived far away; the promotion was perceived as tone-deaf and trivializing a fatal disease.[35] After the ensuing backlash, the campaign was pulled, and the studio apologized.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Five Feet Apart". AMC Theatres. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Rubin, Rebecca (March 13, 2019). "Box Office: 'Captain Marvel' Heads for Heroic Second Weekend". Variety. Archived from the original on March 13, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Five Feet Apart (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on January 19, 2019. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  4. ^ Carlin, Shannon (January 30, 2018). "Cole Sprouse Is Starring In Justin Baldoni's Directorial Debut & It Sounds Like A CW Dream". Bustle. Archived from the original on July 2, 2020. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  5. ^ Cohen, Elizabeth (September 22, 2016). "'Fault in Our Stars': Katie Prager dies". CNN. Archived from the original on September 22, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "Lionsgate Takes Over CBS Films' Distribution & Global Sales". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. November 13, 2014. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  7. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (March 15, 2019). "Five Feet Apart". New York Times. p. 51. ProQuest 2747973240. Archived from the original on May 12, 2023. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  8. ^ Busch, Anita (January 26, 2017). "CBS Films Buys Untitled Justin Baldoni Pitch In Vein Of 'The Fault In Our Stars'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 26, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "Five Feet Apart Paints Complicated Portrait of CF". CBS News. March 18, 2019. Archived from the original on March 19, 2019. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  10. ^ Kit, Borys (January 30, 2018). "'Riverdale' Star Cole Sprouse to Star in Romantic Drama 'Five Feet Apart' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  11. ^ McNary, Dave (January 30, 2018). "'Riverdale' Star Cole Sprouse Joins Romance Drama 'Five Feet Apart'". Variety. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  12. ^ Vlessing, Etan (April 12, 2018). "Moises Arias Joins Cole Sprouse in Romantic Drama 'Five Feet Apart'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  13. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 12, 2018). "Haley Lu Richardson To Star With Cole Sprouse In 'Five Feet Apart'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 13, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  14. ^ Steves, Ashley (n.d.). "Now Casting: Child Actors Wanted to Portray Patients in 'Five Feet Apart' Starring Cole Sprouse + 3 More Gigs". Backstage. Archived from the original on July 4, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  15. ^ Scott, Mike (April 25, 2018). "Who's filming in Louisiana: From 'Captain Marvel' to a new 'Purge'". Archived from the original on July 4, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  16. ^ "FIVE FEET APART". Archived from the original on June 26, 2019. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  17. ^ Epstein, Adam (November 5, 2018). "Cystic fibrosis advocates are worried about the upcoming film "Five Feet Apart"". Quartz. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  18. ^ "Rachael Lippincott '13 Publishes Five Feet Apart". George School. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  19. ^ Maughan, Shannon (December 6, 2018). "Moving On Up: 'Five Feet Apart'". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on December 29, 2022. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (May 31, 2018). "Film News Roundup: Haley Lu Richardson-Cole Sprouse's 'Five Feet Apart' Set for March Release". Variety. Archived from the original on June 19, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  21. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 17, 2019). "'Captain Marvel' Rises To Second Best 2nd Weekend In March With $69M+ – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  22. ^ Faughnder, Ryan (March 13, 2019). "'Captain Marvel' is likely to crush 'Wonder Park' at the box office". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  23. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 24, 2019). "How Universal Drove Jordan Peele's 'Us' To $70M+ Opening, The Best Start For A Live-Action Original Since 'Avatar' – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 25, 2019. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  24. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 31, 2019). "'Dumbo' Hovers Low With $46M+ But Hopes On Matinees; Matthew McConaughey Hits Bottom With $1.7M 'Beach Bum'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  25. ^ "Five Feet Apart (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on February 5, 2019. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  26. ^ "Five Feet Apart Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  27. ^ Barker, Andrew (March 14, 2019). "Film Review: 'Five Feet Apart'". Archived from the original on March 14, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  28. ^ Walsh, Katie (March 14, 2019). "Review: 'Five Feet Apart' elevates the sick teen genre with a poignant love story". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 14, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  29. ^ Siede, Caroline (March 14, 2019). "The maudlin Five Feet Apart anoints a new pair of winning young stars". Film. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  30. ^ "Five Feet Apart". Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. n.d. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  31. ^ Prahl, Amanda (March 4, 2019). "Five Feet Apart: The Science Behind the Serious Medical Condition in the New Film". PopSugar. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved March 24, 2019 – via
  32. ^ a b Smith, Erika W. (March 18, 2019). "Five Feet Apart: All The Controversies, Explained". Refinery29. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  33. ^ a b c McVay, Ellen (March 28, 2019). "Taking A Step Back From... Five Feet Apart". Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. Archived from the original on June 3, 2023. Retrieved October 10, 2023.
  34. ^ a b "The Five Feet Apart Movie: Cystic Fibrosis Facts Not On-Screen". Healthy Balance. March 14, 2019. Archived from the original on April 18, 2023. Retrieved April 18, 2023.
  35. ^ a b Wyant, Paige (March 12, 2019). "Influencers Delete 'Five Feet Apart' Ads After Backlash From Cystic Fibrosis Community". Archived from the original on March 24, 2019. Retrieved March 24, 2019.

External links[edit]