Make It Happen (film)

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Make It Happen
UK Theatrical release poster
Directed byDarren Grant
Produced byAnthony Mosawi
Brad Luff
Duane Adler
Written byDuane Adler
Nicole Avril
StarringMary Elizabeth Winstead
Riley Smith
Tessa Thompson
Julissa Bermudez
John Reardon
Karen LeBlanc
Ashley Roberts
Music byPaul Haslinger
CinematographyDavid Claessen
Distributed byThe Weinstein Company
The Mayhem Project
Release date
  • August 8, 2008 (2008-08-08) (United Kingdom)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$10,153,961[1]

Make It Happen is a 2008 British-American dance film directed by Darren Grant and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The screenplay was co-written by Duane Adler, who was a screenwriter for other dance films Step Up and Save the Last Dance.


The movie opens in Glenwood, Indiana, where Lauryn Kirk (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) narrates the first few parts. There are no dance schools in Glenwood and Lauryn says goodbye to her brother, Joel (John Reardon) before departing for Chicago to audition for a famous dance school, the fictional Chicago School of Music and Dance. Although Joel, who works as a mechanic in the family garage, is wary of Lauryn's decision to enroll, he eventually gives her his blessing. When Lauryn enters the stage, however, her dance (mostly a hip hop routine) was halted by the judge, who hostilely rejects her, saying that they need to see something more "sensual and feminine".

Dejected, Lauryn goes to a diner to down her sorrows, but soon finds her car towed off. Upon seeing her misfortunes, Dana (Tessa Thompson), a friendly waitress from the diner invites Lauryn to her apartment and out of the pouring rain. Dana subsequently offers Lauryn a place to stay, considering Lauryn could not go back home and face her brother. The next day, Dana brings Lauryn to a club called Ruby's (whose dances are rooted in burlesque), where she meets with Russ (Riley Smith), the slick-talking disc jockey, and Brenda (Karen LeBlanc), the club owner. Brenda hires Lauryn as a bookkeeper, in light of her skills with numbers. Lauryn watches as a dancer, Carmen (Julissa Bermudez) performs impressively on the stage.

Before locking up late one night, Lauryn goes on the stage and silently and elegantly dances, while unbeknownest to her, Russ watches from a distance. The next night, Brenda finds herself short of dancers. Russ asks Lauryn to dance, after having seen her graceful performance the previous night. Lauryn reluctantly agrees, and goes on stage. At first, new to the sexy routine, Lauryn looks foolish, but when Russ starts playing hip-hop music, Lauryn does a sexy hip-hop routine, and finds herself to be Ruby's new star. As Lauryn and Russ' relationship progresses, Lauryn continues performing stunningly on stage, much to Carmen's chagrin.

One night however, Joel catches Lauryn at the club during a dance; After a bicker, in which Lauryn realizes that Joel is losing the family garage due to stacking mortgages and bills, she decides to ditch the stage and return to Indiana to save the garage. Soon after though, Joel catches a peek of Lauryn joyfully dancing in the garage one day, and asks Lauryn to give the audition another shot. Uplifted, Lauryn returns to Chicago for a second audition. She nails it, and happily embraces Russ, who has come to encourage her. Lauryn goes back to Ruby's to apologize to Brenda, but finds a surprise congratulatory party awaiting for her. The movie concludes as the party breaks into a dance.


Actor Role
Mary Elizabeth Winstead[2] Lauryn Kirk
Riley Smith[3] Russ
Tessa Thompson Dana
Julissa Bermudez Carmen
John Reardon Joel Kirk
Karen LeBlanc Brenda
Ashley Roberts[4] Brooke
Matt Kippen Wayne


Early conception[edit]

"What attracted me to "Make It Happen" was the fact that I could really just incorporate a lot of styles that I had done over the years. You have the dance element, and each little dance routine was going to be like its own little music video," Grant explains. When it came to helping the director to tell the story, Grant went to work with longtime collaborator, 1999 Kodak Cinematography Award winner David Claessen. "I've worked with David since I was a PA and an electrician, and I always liked the way he lights. We've done music videos that have been amazing and every frame is like a portrait or a picture."

With the main principles of the production set, the filmmakers went on to find their Lauryn Kirk. On July 11, 2007, Rotten Tomatoes reveal the casting of Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the lead role.[2] Winstead, who started dancing at the age of four, was thrilled and a little shocked to be offered the role of Lauryn. "I actually got offered the role kind of out of the blue. And I was extremely excited because it's a dance film and dance has been a passion of mine for a long time, especially growing up, so it was just a really great opportunity." Soon after, Winstead began practicing the dance moves with choreographer Tracy Phillips. In June, Riley Smith announces his association with the film in his official website.[5] On August 16, Ashley Roberts was announced as joining the film by Entertainment Sunflashes.[6]

The film was shot on location in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, from August 8 until September 17, 2007.[7]


In mid July, promotions for the film began in UK. On July 11, the theatrical international trailer was released through Optimum Releasing, followed by promotional and production stills. Soon after, promotional clips began sneaking their way into the Internet, and TV spots started airing in UK TV channels. The theatrical trailer was released thereafter. The first UK review surfaced on August 3. Make It Happen was released in the UK on August 8, 2008.

The film was further released in Iceland on the 28th of August, and then in Singapore and Australia on September 4. The film debuted in the Philippines on 1 October, and recently premiered in Hong Kong theaters on November 13. The film was also released in Netherlands on February 5, 2009 and Belgium on the 18th.

Make It Happen made its final theatrical run in France, on 10 June 2009, exactly a year after the film's shooting production began.


Box office[edit]

Make It Happen was released first in the UK on Friday, the 8th of August. During its initial release, the film grossed $945,349 over the weekend and ended up fifth on the box office chart. It spent a total of one week on the top 10 chart, before dropping down to the 12th position in its second week, earning $216,923 as the weekend gross. The film grossed $2,616,579 a total of over its run in the UK. It was further released on the 4th of September in both Australia and Singapore, where it went on to collect a total of $1,526,207 and $91,686 respectively. It made $108,174 in the Philippines after its debut on 1 October. The film was released direct to DVD in the US on December 9, 2008.

Make It Happen sat on #5 in the box office chart in Slovakia, earning $18,202, and ended up with $62,362 throughout its release in Slovakia. The film was later released in Netherlands on 5 February 2009. In its first week, the film stood at #8 in the chart, charting $113,045, and raked up $414,585 throughout its release. The film was released on March 3, 2009 in Hungary, where it collected a total of $19,830 for four weeks. Make It Happen stands at #6 during its weekend gross in Thailand, where it collected $42,693 in its first weekend. In Italy, where the film came out on 5 April, it made $1,588,417. Furthermore, the film was released on 16 March in Russia and on the 23rd in Malaysia. It made a feeble $41,443 during its 4 weeks run in Malaysia, but in a contrast, made $492,825 during its 6 weeks run in Russia.

Make It Happen was released in France on 10 June 2009, where the film collected a total of $1,209,457. The film made its final run in theaters in Lebanon, where it went on to collect $8,481. In total, Make It Happen made $10,153,961 in the foreign box office.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mostly unfavorable reviews from critics. On the review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes, the film stands at a 22% approval score, based on 18 reviews. It is certified as "rotten", with the consensus being: "Cheap, predictable, formulaic and unimaginative generic dance film. Comes across as Showgirls for simpleton teens, but with much less flesh on show".[8]

Apparently, many critics disliked the film's similarities with other dance flicks such as Save the Last Dance and Flashdance. Another main criticism was that, except for a few scenes where Lauryn appears with a bare midriff, the film did not contain enough skin. One reviewer stated, "You're liable to see more flesh in a Pussycat Dolls video than here".[9] The dance moves were also criticized as being lazy, and offering nothing groundbreaking.

On the other hand, many agreed that the film's biggest and most universally agreed asset was Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Reviewer Mike Martin says, "Winstead infuses every moment with an amazing amount of charm".[10] Matthew Turner of ViewLondon even goes to say it "compensates for the generally poor direction." [11] The story has also been said to have "plenty of heart". "[...] the screenplay makes an effort to build a story and characters and interest, to put Lauryn's dancing ambition in context and the dance sequences in the third act more explosive," quote one Andrew L. Urban.[12]

Nevertheless, the film was listed as the 36th Worst 2008 Film at Times Online.[13]

Home media[edit]

Make It Happen was released on standard DVD in the UK on December 29, 2008. Supplementary materials include: "She's Got Moves" DVD Game, an interview with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 13 deleted and extended scenes, blooper reel, trailers and TV spots.[14] The film has also gone straight to DVD in the US on December 9, 2008, while finding release on DVD on November 4, 2008. The DVD possesses the removed plotline of Dana's sudden pregnancy, and of her eventual miscarriage and also an extended sequence of Brooke's audition.[15]

Make It Happen has yet to be released on Blu-ray in the US. It did however, get released in Blu-ray on 20 July 2009 in the UK. The only special features available are a few trailers for other Weinstein releases, and Dutch subtitles. The film eventually got a Canadian Blu-ray as well, released on January 25, 2011. It also similarly lacks special features.[16][17]


No official soundtrack has been planned for the film, but Make It Happen features the following songs, among others:


  1. ^ a b Make It Happen (2008) - Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b "Mary Elizabeth Winstead set to "Make It Happen" in Burlesque Flick". Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  3. ^ "Summer Time, CD time, Ready for the Road..." June 25, 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
  4. ^ "Lights, Camera, Action, Pussycat!". Retrieved 2008-11-22.
  5. ^ "Summer Time, CD time, Ready for the Road..." Retrieved 2009-02-16. External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "Lights, Camera, Action, Pussycat!". Retrieved 2009-01-23. External link in |publisher= (help)[dead link]
  7. ^ "Production is Happening on Make It Happen". Retrieved 2007-08-11.
  8. ^ "Make It Happen Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
  9. ^ "Make It Happen, Synopsis, Review, Stills, Trailers – MSN Movies UK". Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
  10. ^ "Teletext Big Screen Film Reviews". Archived from the original on 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
  11. ^ "Make it Happen Film Review". Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  12. ^ Urban Cinefile MAKE IT HAPPEN: DVD
  13. ^ "100 Worst Movies of 2008". The Times. London. December 8, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  14. ^ "Optimum Releasing: Make It Happen". Optimum Releasing. Archived from the original on 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  15. ^ "Amazon.Com: Make It Happen: DVD". Urban Cinefile. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  16. ^ "Amazon.Co.UK: Make It Happen [Blu-ray] [2008]". Amazon. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  17. ^ Make it Happen (UK - BD RB) in News > Releases at DVDActive

External links[edit]