Late Night (film)

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Late Night
Late Night poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNisha Ganatra
Written byMindy Kaling
Produced by
CinematographyMatthew Clark
Edited byEleanor Infante
Music byLesley Barber
Distributed byAmazon Studios
Release dates
  • January 25, 2019 (2019-01-25) (Sundance)
  • June 7, 2019 (2019-06-07) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$9.5 million[2]
Box office$22.4 million[3]

Late Night is a 2019 American comedy-drama film directed by Nisha Ganatra from a screenplay also produced by Mindy Kaling. It stars Emma Thompson as a popular TV host who hires a new writer (Kaling) to keep from getting replaced. Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Denis O'Hare, Reid Scott, and Amy Ryan also star.

The project was first announced in 2016, with Fox 2000 Pictures set to produce Kaling's script and Paul Feig signed on to direct. In August 2017, Ganatra replaced Feig and the film was picked up by FilmNation Entertainment. Much of the cast joined in April 2018 and filming began later that month in New York City. Following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2019, Amazon Studios bought the domestic distribution rights for a record $13 million.

Late Night was theatrically released in the United States on June 7, 2019. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for its social satire and commentary, screenplay, as well as Thompson's performance.[4] For her performance, Thompson received a nomination at the 77th Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.


Katherine Newbury is an acclaimed late-night talk show host with an extensive career in comedy, but her show's ratings have seen a steady decline over the past decade. The network's president, Caroline Morton, tells Katherine to fix up her show or she will be replaced.

In an attempt to revamp the show, Katherine has Molly Patel hired to her writing staff, mainly on the basis that she is an Indian-American woman while all remaining writers are white men. Although Molly has little experience in comedy and initially struggles, she proves her worth by giving Katherine good material to work with on her show as well as ideas on how to reach out to a bigger audience. The results prove successful.

Katherine learns that Caroline wants to pick young, popular comedian Daniel Tennant to replace her as the new host. Katherine resists, as Daniel's comedy is vulgar and misogynistic. With backup from her writers, Katherine defies the network's demands and decides on air to continue her career.

An email from one of the writers, Charlie, gets leaked, in which it is revealed that Katherine had an affair with him after her husband Walter was initially diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In the midst of the drama, Katherine fires Molly after she criticizes her for her response to the news. Eventually, Katherine makes amends with Walter and the other writers and admits her affair to her audience. Her sincerity and passion for the show convinces Caroline to let her stick around, and Katherine later apologizes to Molly, hiring her back. The show continues to stay on air.

One year later, the show's team has diversified, Molly is promoted to co-lead monologue writer, and Katherine's show is more successful than ever.


  • Emma Thompson as Dame Katherine Newbury DBE, an acclaimed and legendary late-night talk show host and comedian from the United Kingdom. She is the host of Tonight with Katherine Newbury, one of most popular late-night talk shows in the USA but with declining ratings.
  • Mindy Kaling as Molly Patel, an Indian-American writer who works for Katherine Newbury and is a staff member of Tonight with Katherine Newbury, also dubbed by Katherine as Eight
  • Amy Ryan as Caroline Morton, the president of the unnamed network on which Tonight with Katherine Newbury is shown
  • John Lithgow as Walter Lovell, professor emeritus at NYU and Katherine’s husband of 25 years
  • Denis O'Hare as Brad, head writer of the show
  • Paul Walter Hauser as Eugene Mancuso, one of the writers on the show, dubbed as One
  • John Early as Chris Reynolds, one of the writers on the show, dubbed as Two
  • Hugh Dancy as Charlie Fain, one of the writers on the show, dubbed as Four, with whom Katherine had a two month-long affair three years ago
  • Max Casella as Burditt, a writer who has worked on the show for 27 years, dubbed as Five
  • Nick Denning as one of the writers, dubbed as Six
  • Reid Scott as Tom Campbell, a monologue writer on the show, dubbed as Seven
  • Blake DeLong as McCary, a writer with a long-distance relationship who got fired
  • Lucas Caleb Rooney as Gabe Eichler, a writer who got fired after he asked for a raise
  • Luke Slattery as Hayes Campbell, Tom's younger brother instead of whom Molly was hired
  • Annaleigh Ashford as Mimi Mismatch, a YouTube star who is a guest on Tonight with Katherine Newbury
  • Megalyn Echikunwoke as Robin, Katherine's new publicist
  • Marc Kudisch as Billy Kastner
  • Ike Barinholtz as Daniel Tennant, a popular and controversial comedian known for his vulgar and misogynistic humor and who is considered a possible replacement for Katherine Newbury
  • Halston Sage as Zoe Martlin, an actress promoting The Van Hellsing Prep on Tonight with Katherine Newbury
  • Bill Maher as himself
  • Seth Meyers as himself
  • Jake Tapper as himself
  • Maria Dizzia as Joan
  • Jia Patel as Pavarti, Molly’s cousin
  • Sakina Jaffrey as Mrs. Patel, Molly’s mother


In September 2016, it was reported that Fox 2000 had bought the rights to the project, written by Mindy Kaling, who was also set to costar alongside Emma Thompson.[5][6] In November 2016, Paul Feig signed on to direct the film.[7] However, in August 2017, Nisha Ganatra was announced as director when Feig dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.[8]

In February 2018, it was reported that 30West and FilmNation Entertainment would co-finance the film and sell distribution rights.[9][10] In April 2018, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Reid Scott, Paul Walter Hauser, Denis O'Hare, John Early, Max Casella and Megalyn Echikunwoke joined the cast, with filming commencing April 23, 2018 in Canada.[9][10][11][12][13] Amy Ryan joined the cast in May.[14]


Late Night had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2019.[15] Shortly after, Amazon Studios acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film for $13 million, the largest sum paid for U.S.-only distribution at the festival.[16]

The film began its U.S. theatrical play with a limited release on June 7, 2019,[17] in Los Angeles and New York City, and expanded to the rest of the US the following weekend.[18] Amazon's marketing budget for the film amounted to roughly $35 million.[19]


Box office[edit]

Late Night grossed $15.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $22.4 million.[3] In June 2019, the film was estimated to have lost Amazon $40 million due to the cost of acquisition and marketing.[20][21]

In its limited opening weekend, the film made $249,694 from four theaters, for a per-venue average of $62,414, the second-best of 2019.[22] The film expanded on June 14, opposite the openings of Men in Black: International and Shaft, and was projected to gross $5 million from 2,218 theaters over the weekend.[23] It ended up making $5.1 million, finishing ninth. While in-line with projections, the opening was viewed as disappointing given the positive critical reception and the studio's cost of acquisition. However, Deadline Hollywood noted the film was essentially an advertisement for streaming on Amazon Prime, and audiences may be waiting to see it later.[19] It made $2.6 million the following weekend, dropping 51% to 12th.[24]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 79% based on 296 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Smart, timely, and brought to life by a terrific cast, Late Night is a workplace comedy with a lot of heart—and just as many laughs."[25] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 70 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[26] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 3.5 out of 5 stars, with women (who made up 71% of the demographic) grading it an overall positive score of 80%.[19]

A.O. Scott of The New York Times described the film's humor as "sharp" yet "cruelty-free," and wrote "[Late Night] argues that entertainment benefits from the presence of different faces and voices not by preaching but by example."[27] Owen Gleiberman of Variety magazine called the film "lively yet scattershot" and praised Thompson's performance, saying "Thompson truly seems like a born talk-show host. Even when she's just riffing, she grounds Late Night in something real."[28] Anthony Kaufman of ScreenDaily also praised Thompson for "a memorable performance as the abrasive 'cold witch,' as someone describes her, perhaps even outdoing Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada as a delightfully wicked woman of power."[29] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly also praised Thompson's performance, saying her "gravitas holds the center," and that "the best scenes in Late Night are consistently the ones where the movie's main stars spar and banter and intermittently connect." Greenblatt praised director Nisha Ganatra for refreshing classic romantic comedy tropes, but added that the tone is at times "scattershot and sometimes too sitcom-ish."[30]

Alissa Wilkinson of says "Late Night is a workplace comedy that feels like a cousin of The Devil Wears Prada, and its greatest strength is its two lead characters." She also wrote, "Late Night feels underwritten in some spots, but it's surprising in others—an unfussy, entertaining comedy with some serious matters on its mind."[31] Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair described it as "a genial, funny movie, not a mile-a-minute behind-the-cameras gag-fest (hyphens!) like 30 Rock, but an amiable workplace comedy that finds personal definition in its influences."[32] Sheila O'Malley of rated the film 3+12 out of 4 stars, specifying that is "an earnest and funny comedy, with very sharp teeth."[33]


Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2020 77th Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Emma Thompson Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer Movie Late Night Nominated
Choice Summer Movie Actress Mindy Kaling Nominated
Peoples's Choice Awards Favorite Comedy Movie Star Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Awards Breakthrough - Actor Paul Walter Hauser[a] Nominated


  1. ^ Also for Richard Jewell, Beats and 7 Days to Vegas


  1. ^ "LATE NIGHT (15)". British Board of Film Classification. May 28, 2019. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  2. ^ "FILM TAX CREDIT – QUARTERLY REPORT CALENDAR YEAR 2019: THIRD QUARTER" (PDF). New York State: 8. September 30, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Late Night (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  4. ^ Gabriella Geisinger (June 6, 2019). "Late Night reviews: 'Ludicrous comedy' 'has a lot of heart' and is full of 'INCISIVE barbs". Daily Express. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  5. ^ "Fox 2000 Nabs Mindy Kaling's Hot Late-Night Talk Show Script (Exclusive)". Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  6. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 28, 2016). "Mindy Kaling, Emma Thompson to Star in Late-Night Talk Show Film (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Lang, Brent (November 3, 2016). "Paul Feig in Talks to Direct Mindy Kaling Comedy (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  8. ^ Rebecca Ford (August 4, 2017). "Mindy Kaling Comedy 'Late Night' Taps 'Transparent' Director (Exclusive)". Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  9. ^ a b McNary, Dave (February 6, 2018). "30West, FilmNation Back Mindy Kaling-Emma Thompson's 'Late Night'". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  10. ^ a b JEREMY KAY (February 6, 2018). "Mindy Kaling, Emma Thompson to star in 'Late Night' for 30WEST, FilmNation". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  11. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (April 16, 2018). "John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy & Others Join Mindy Kaling-Emma Thompson Comedy 'Late Night'". Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  12. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 24, 2018). "Denis O'Hare & More Round Out Cast Of 'Late Night'". Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  13. ^ McNary, Dave (April 24, 2018). "Film News Roundup: Denis O'Hare, John Early Join Mindy Kaling's Comedy 'Late Night'". Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  14. ^ Andreas Wiseman (May 2, 2018). "Amy Ryan Joins Mindy Kaling And Emma Thompson In FilmNation-30West Talk Show Comedy 'Late Night'".
  15. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 28, 2018). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils 2019 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  16. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 26, 2019). "Amazon Closing Sundance Record $13M U.S. Rights Deal For 'Late Night'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  17. ^ Lang, Brent (February 28, 2019). "Mindy Kaling's 'Late Night' Opening in June". Variety. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  18. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 28, 2019). "Mindy Kaling's 'Late Night' Will Go Wide A Week Later". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 16, 2019). "'Men In Black: International' Domestic Passport Revoked With $26M Opening, 'Shaft' Drops His Gun With $7M+: Summer Sequelitis, Here We Go Again". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 16, 2019. the studio spent $13M for the pic at Sundance, and from what we hear, another $35M in marketing.
  20. ^ Ben Arnold (June 27, 2019). "Amazon is set to lose a massive £31m on comedy flop 'Late Night'". Yahoo! Entertainment. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  21. ^ "Amazon Staggering After 'Late Night' Flop, Bob Berney Exit". Variety. June 27, 2019.
  22. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 9, 2019). "'Secret Life Of Pets 2' Seeing $47M+, But 'Dark Phoenix' Up In Smoke With $32M+ In Lowest Opening For 'X-Men' Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  23. ^ Jeremy Fuster (June 11, 2019). "Can 'Men in Black: International' Bring in Moviegoers Without Will Smith?". TheWrap. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  24. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 23, 2019). "'Toy Story 4' Eyeing 3rd Best Animated Pic Opening Of All-Time With $123M+, But Did Disney Leave Money On The Table?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  25. ^ "Late Night (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  26. ^ "Late Night reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  27. ^ Scott, A. O. (June 5, 2019). "'Late Night' Review: Emma Thompson Takes On the Old Boys of Network TV". The New York Times.
  28. ^ Owen Gleiberman. "Film Review: Late Night". Variety.
  29. ^ Anthony Kaufman (January 25, 2019). "Sundance Review: Late Night". ScreenDaily. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  30. ^ "Emma Thompson shines in Mindy Kaling's breezy but uneven 'Late Night': EW review". Entertainment Weekly.
  31. ^ Wilkinson, Alissa (February 4, 2019). "Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling star in Late Night, a comedy about what women do to stay ahead". Vox.
  32. ^ Lawson, Richard. "Emma Thompson Gets Her Best Role in Years in Sundance Smash Late Night". Vanity Fair.
  33. ^ O'Malley, Sheila (June 7, 2019). "Late Night Movie Review & Film Summary (2019) – Roger Ebert".

External links[edit]