Game Night (film)

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Game Night
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written byMark Perez
Produced by
CinematographyBarry Peterson
Edited by
Music byCliff Martinez
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • February 23, 2018 (2018-02-23) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$37 million[2]
Box office$117.7 million[2]

Game Night is a 2018 American action comedy film[3][4] directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein and written by Mark Perez. It stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams and follows a group of friends whose game night turns into a real-life mystery after one of them is kidnapped. The film's supporting cast includes Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons, Michael C. Hall, and Kyle Chandler.

Warner Bros. Pictures released the film on February 23, 2018. It was a commercial and critical success, grossing $117 million worldwide and receiving praise for its originality, humor, script, and performances. Plemons was nominated for the Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor.


Max and Annie Davis are avid gamers who met at bar trivia and became engaged during charades. The couple's plans for a baby are complicated by Max's feelings of inadequacy compared to his successful brother, Brooks.

They regularly host a game night with their friend Ryan and married couple Kevin and Michelle Sterling, while struggling to keep it secret from their socially awkward police officer neighbor Gary Kingsbury, especially after his painful divorce from their friend Debbie. Brooks arrives in Max's dream car, humiliates him with a childhood story, and offends Annie (who assumed Max was overthinking his issues with Brooks) by offering to host the next game night himself.

When the guests, including Ryan's new date Sarah, arrive at Brooks's rental house, Brooks reveals he has initiated an interactive role-playing mystery game. The winner is promised his Corvette. An actor enters to begin the game but is knocked unconscious by two masked men who kidnap Brooks.

Believing this is part of the game, the couples passively observe the fight and split up to solve the mystery. Ryan and Sarah visit the role-playing company’s office to offer a bribe for the final clue. When Kevin and Michelle talk to the actor, they realize Brooks's abduction was real.

Max and Annie track Brooks's phone to a bar and use a pistol Brooks dropped to hold his captors at gunpoint and free him. When Annie accidentally shoots Max in the arm, they realize they are in danger. They flee as Brooks confesses that he is a black marketeer: he procured a Fabergé egg for a criminal known as "the Bulgarian" but instead sold it to someone with the alias "Marlon Freeman". With his kidnappers in pursuit, Brooks jumps out of the car so Max and Annie can escape.

The couples regroup and, unable to go to the police, decide to recover the egg from Freeman to deliver to the Bulgarian. They show up at Gary's and distract him with the pretense of a game night while Max uses his police computer to discover Freeman's real name, Donald Anderton, and his address. After Max bleeds on Gary's dog and a shrine dedicated to Debbie, the group leaves and receives the kidnappers' call to meet them in one hour.

They sneak into Anderton's mansion, where he is hosting an underground fight club. Searching for the egg, Michelle admits to Kevin that she once slept with Denzel Washington while they were briefly separated, but Kevin determines him to be his doppelganger after seeing his photo. Separately, Max tells Annie he may not be ready to have a child. Ryan spots the egg in an open safe, leading to a game of keep away with Anderton's guards. The group escapes with the egg but accidentally breaks it, revealing a list inside.

The group meets with Brooks and his captors, only to be captured themselves. Brooks reveals that he has always been jealous of Max's life and intended for him to win the Corvette all along. Gary saves them but is shot in the chest. Max and Annie comfort him by promising to invite him to every future game night, and he reveals that he faked the entire abduction — including hiring the kidnappers — to trick them into letting him rejoin game night.

He is, however, unaware of the list, which he recognizes as a WITSEC list, and they are cornered by the real Bulgarian. Max offers the list in exchange for their lives, but Brooks, thinking they will all be killed anyway, swallows the list and is taken to the Bulgarian's plane. Max and Annie race to the airport in the Corvette, stop the plane, subdue the Bulgarian and his henchmen, and rescue Brooks; Max realizes he wants to be a father after all.

Three months later, Brooks is under house arrest for his crimes and has sold the list on the black market for $3 million (after tipping off the witnesses for $20,000 each). He hosts game night for the group, including Gary, and Annie reveals she is pregnant through a game of Pictionary as armed men arrive outside.


Additionally, the film's directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein cameo as Carter and Dan, respectively. Kenny (credited as "Not Denzel") is portrayed by Malcolm X. Hughes, a part-time Denzel Washington impersonator.[5] Jeffrey Wright makes an uncredited cameo as an actor playing Agent Ron Henderson, an FBI Agent.



Producer John Fox had the film's title, and asked screenwriter Mark Perez for story ideas. Perez took inspiration from films like Three Amigos and Tropic Thunder. He pitched the concept to 20th Century Fox, who liked it. The two pitched the project to Jason Bateman, who also liked it. They then sold the idea to New Line Cinema around 2013-2014.[6] Bateman was initially slated to direct, as well as produce and star in the film. When screenwriters Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley were hired to rewrite Perez's script, it became clear to Bateman that the two would also want to direct the film, so Bateman stepped down.[7]


On May 24, 2016, New Line Cinema hired Goldstein and Francis Daley to rewrite and direct the film Game Night, which Jason Bateman produced through Aggregate Films.[8] While Daley and Goldstein did not receive screenwriter credit, they later said they rewrote "almost all of the original script’s dialogue, totally overhauled the characters — most notably a creepy cop portrayed by Jesse Plemons — and comprehensively reworked the original script’s third act."[9]

In January 2017, Rachel McAdams, Bateman, and Plemons were cast in the film's lead roles.[10][11] In February 2017, Kylie Bunbury joined the cast, while in March, Lamorne Morris, Billy Magnussen, Kyle Chandler, and Sharon Horgan were also added.[12][13][14][15][16] In April 2017, Jeffrey Wright was cast in the film as an FBI agent, a role he ultimately played uncredited.[17]


Principal photography on the film began in early April 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia, US.[18][19]


Warner Bros. Pictures had originally scheduled Game Night for release on February 14, 2018.[20] The date was later pushed back to March 2, 2018, before being moved up to February 23, 2018.[21]


Box office[edit]

Game Night grossed $69.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $48.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $117.7 million, against a production budget of $37 million.[2]

In the United States and Canada, Game Night was released alongside Annihilation and Every Day, and was projected to gross $13–21 million from 3,488 theaters in its opening weekend.[22] The film made $5.6 million on its first day (including $1 million from Thursday night previews). It ended up grossing $17 million over the weekend, finishing second, behind holdover Black Panther.[23] The film dropped 38.8% (above average for a comedy) in its second weekend to $10.4 million, and finished fourth, behind Black Panther and newcomers Red Sparrow and Death Wish.[24] It made $7.9 million in its third weekend,[25] $5.6 million in its fourth[26] and $4.1 million in its fifth.[27]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 257 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise — and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists — Game Night might be more fun than the real thing."[28] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported that 78% of filmgoers gave it a positive score.[23] Many critics noted the similarity of the plot to that of The Man Who Knew Too Little.[30]

Owen Gleiberman of Variety, gave the film a positive review, saying "Even at 100 minutes, Game Night pushes its premise to the wall of synthetic escapism. Yet the movie manipulates its audience in cunning and puckish ways. It's no big whoop, but you're happy to have been played."[31]

Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair gave the film a positive review, but wrote: "It's a good time, but it maybe could have been a great one. Which I suppose is true of so many nights meant to deliver us from the doldrums of settled life."[32] Jon Frosch of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "There are chuckles here and there, but a striking absence of belly laughs".[33]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Detroit Film Critics Society December 3, 2018 Best Supporting Actor Jesse Plemons Nominated [34]
San Diego Film Critics Society December 10, 2018 Best Comedic Performance Jason Bateman Nominated [35][36]
Jesse Plemons Nominated
Best Editing Dave Egan and Jamie Gross Won
Best Ensemble Cast Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 13, 2019 Best Comedy Game Night Nominated
Best Actor in a Comedy Jason Bateman Nominated
Best Actress in a Comedy Rachel McAdams Nominated


During the film's opening weekend, screenwriter Mark Perez discussed the possibility of a sequel, saying "It would be great to have sequels. Super titles like Game Night or specific titles like that feel genetically built to have sequels... That would mean the movie did well, and that's all I really care about at this stage."[37]

In a 2023 interview with directors Daley and Goldstein, when asked about a Game Night sequel, they said "Our favorite thing is to leave the audience wanting more, as opposed to hitting them over the head. And that was a case where we ended the movie with a sort of fake setup for a sequel, but we feel like it might be hard to top what we did."[38]


  1. ^ "GAME NIGHT (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Game Night (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  3. ^ "'Game Night' Film Review: Winning Action-Comedy Passes Go, Collects $200". TheWrap. 20 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  4. ^ "'Game Night' is an action comedy that delivers laughs, twists — and plenty of blood". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  5. ^ Topel, Fred (2018-03-10). "Game Night spoilers: The directors talk about that celebrity lookalike". Monsters and Critics. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  7. ^ William Mullally (February 21, 2018). "EXCLUSIVE: Jason Bateman was supposed to direct Game Night—here's why he didn't". Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  8. ^ Hipes, Patrick (May 24, 2016). "'Spider-Man' Homecoming' Scribes On Board For 'Game Night' At New Line". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  9. ^ Lee, Chris (21 June 2018). "How Game Night Broke Modern Comedy's Rules to Win at the Box Office". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  10. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 4, 2017). "Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams to Star in Comedy 'Game Night'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 19, 2017). "Jesse Plemons Joins Jason Bateman in New Line Comedy 'Game Night' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 16, 2017). "'Pitch' Star Kylie Bunbury Joins Jason Bateman's Comedy 'Game Night' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 6, 2017). "'New Girl' Star Lamorne Morris Joins Jason Bateman Comedy 'Game Night' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 16, 2017). "Billy Magnussen Joining 'Game Night' Opposite Jason Bateman & Rachel McAdams". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  15. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 22, 2017). "Emmy Winner Kyle Chandler Joins New Line's 'Game Night'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  16. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 23, 2017). "'Game Night' Gains Another Player In Sharon Horgan". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  17. ^ Kit, Borys (April 4, 2017). "Jeffrey Wright Joins Jason Bateman in 'Game Night' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  18. ^ Hensley, Ellie (April 11, 2017). "New Line's 'Game Night' filming in Atlanta". Atlanta Business Chronicle. American City Business Journals. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  19. ^ InqPOP! (April 21, 2017). "It's game on as shooting begins on New Line Cinema's "Game Night"". InqPOP!. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  20. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 3, 2017). "'Godzilla Vs. Kong', 'Game Night' Among Many Warner Bros. Release Date Changes For 2018 & Beyond". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 6, 2017). "Warner Bros/New Line Change Up 'Game Night' Again Next Year – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  22. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 21, 2018). "'Black Panther' Posts Record $21M Pre-Summer Tuesday; Second Weekend To Reap $104M-$109M". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  23. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 25, 2018). "'Black Panther' Breaks More Records: $108M Second Weekend Is Second-Best Ever As Marvel Movie Heads For $400M". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  24. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 4, 2018). "'Black Panther' Busts Past Half Billion; 'Red Sparrow' Flies Low With $17M – Sunday AM B.O. Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  25. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 11, 2018). "'Black Panther' Rules 4th Frame With $41M+; 'A Wrinkle In Time' At $33M+: A Diversity & Disney Dominant Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  26. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for March 16-18, 2018". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  27. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for March 23-25, 2018". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  28. ^ "Game Night (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
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  30. ^ Yoshida, Emily (22 February 2018). "Game Night Will Make You Wish Rachel McAdams Still Made Comedies". Vulture. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  31. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (February 20, 2018). "Film Review: 'Game Night'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  32. ^ Lawson, Richard (February 21, 2018). "Game Night Review: Surprisingly Stylish Fun That Could Use More Rachel McAdams". Vanity Fair.
  33. ^ "'Game Night': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 February 2018.
  34. ^ "'Eighth Grade' Leads 2018 Detroit Film Critics Society Nominees". Archived from the original on 2019-07-21. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  35. ^ "2018 San Diego Film Critics Society's Award Nominations". San Diego Film Critics Society. 2018-12-07. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  36. ^ "2018 San Diego Film Critics Society Award Winners". San Diego Film Critics Society. 2018-12-10. Archived from the original on 2018-12-11. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  37. ^ Aaron Couch (February 25, 2018). "'Game Night' Screenwriter Is Dreaming of Sequel Possibilities". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  38. ^ Hermanns, Grant (2023-03-31). "Game Night 2 Gets Disappointing Update From Directors". ScreenRant. Retrieved 2023-04-02.

External links[edit]