Free Solo

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Free Solo
Free Solo.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
  • Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
  • Jimmy Chin
  • Shannon Dill
  • Evan Hayes
StarringAlex Honnold
Music byMarco Beltrami
  • Jimmy Chin
  • Clair Popkin
  • Mikey Schaefer
Edited byBob Eisenhardt
Distributed byNational Geographic Documentary Films
Release date
  • August 31, 2018 (2018-08-31) (Telluride)
  • September 28, 2018 (2018-09-28) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$8.1 million[1]

Free Solo is a 2018 American documentary film directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. The film profiles rock climber Alex Honnold, on his quest to perform a free solo climb of El Capitan. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2018, and also screened at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People's Choice Award: Documentaries.[2] It was released in the United States on September 28, 2018.


Box office[edit]

The film made $300,804 from four theaters in its opening weekend, surpassing Eighth Grade and An Inconvenient Truth, respectively, for the highest per-venue average of 2018 and of a documentary all-time with $75,201.[3] It expanded to 41 theaters in its second weekend, making $562,786.[4]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 98% based on 53 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Free Solo depicts athletic feats that many viewers will find beyond reason - and grounds the attempts in passions that are all but universal."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[6]

Writing for Variety, Peter Debrudge said, "Apart from a slow stretch around the hour mark, the filmmakers keep things lively (with a big assist from Marco Beltrami's pulse-quickening score, the nail-biting opposite of Tim McGraw's soaring end-credits single, "Gravity"), featuring test runs at Zion National Park's Moonlight Buttress and the nearly sheer limestone cliffs in Taghia, Morocco."[7] Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair called the film "bracingly made" and wrote, "I left the theater invigorated and rattled, in awe of this charismatic man's accomplishment but scared that it will inspire others to attempt the same...But maybe Free Solo's detailed, transfixing portrait of their hero will at least show some sort of barrier to entry, communicating to those eager wannabes that very few people indeed are built quite like Alex Honnold. And thank goodness, in a way, for that."[8]


Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
Toronto International Film Festival September 16, 2018 People's Choice Documentary Free Solo Won
Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards November 10, 2018 Best Documentary Free Solo Pending
Best Director Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Pending
Best Sports Documentary Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Pending
Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary Alex Honnold Won
Most Innovative Documentary Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Pending
Best Cinematography Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin, Mikey Schaefer Pending
Best Editing Bob Eisenhardt Pending
IDA Documentary Awards December 8, 2018 Best Feature Free Solo Pending
Best Cinematography Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin and Mikey Schaefer Nominated


  1. ^ "Free Solo (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  2. ^ "TIFF 2018 Awards: ‘Green Book’ Wins the People’s Choice Award, Upsetting ‘A Star Is Born’". IndieWire, September 16, 2018.
  3. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (September 30, 2018). "'Free Solo' Documentary Climbs Indie Box Office With Best Screen Average of 2018". Variety. Archived from the original on September 30, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  4. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 7, 2018). "'Venom' Still Showing $80M Fangs; 'A Star Is Born' Hitting $42M+ High Note In Record October Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "Free Solo (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  6. ^ "Free Solo reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  7. ^ "Telluride Film Review: ‘Free Solo’". Variety, August 31, 2018.
  8. ^ "Review: Free Solo Is a Dizzying, Fascinating Rock-Climbing Documentary". Vanity Fair, September 1, 2018.

External links[edit]