Message in a Bottle (film)

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Message in a Bottle
Message in a bottle film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Luis Mandoki
Produced by
Screenplay by Gerald Di Pego
Based on Message in a Bottle 
by Nicholas Sparks
Music by Gabriel Yared
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by Steven Weisberg
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
February 12, 1999
Running time
131 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $80 million[1]
Box office $118,880,016[1]

Message in a Bottle is a 1999 American romantic drama film directed by Luis Mandoki. Based on 1998 novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, the film stars Kevin Costner, Robin Wright, and Paul Newman. Message in a Bottle was filmed in Maine, Chicago, and Wilmington, North Carolina.


Theresa Osborne, a former reporter, works as a researcher for the Chicago Tribune. On a trip to Cape Cod, she finds a mysterious, intriguing love letter in a bottle in the sand, addressed from Garret to Catherine. She is fascinated by it and comes into possession of two more letters by the same person, eventually tracking down the man who wrote them, Garret Blake. He refurbished a boat called Happenstence with his wife before her death and he lives quietly on the Outer Banks of North Carolina near his father, Dodge.

Theresa and Garret become better acquainted, but she does not reveal her knowledge of the love letters. Along with the literal distance between them — they live hundreds of miles apart — there is another problem: Garret cannot quite forgive Catherine for dying and leaving him.

Theresa's career flourishes as the romantic tale of the "messages in a bottle" is told in print, without naming names. Garret makes a trip to Chicago to visit Theresa and her young son. Their new love grows, until one day Garret finds his letters in a drawer in Theresa's apartment. Garret angrily confronts Theresa and, after a night of explanations, he goes home by himself.

A year later, Dodge tracks down Theresa. He informs her that his son Garret has died at sea in a storm while attempting to rescue someone else. A bottle with a message inside was found on his boat. Theresa realizes that it was written the night before Garrett's last sailing. In it, he apologizes to Catherine and says that in Theresa he has found a new love, a love he must fight for.


The producers originally planned to film on Tangier Island, Virginia, but some members of the town council objected to the drinking, cursing and sex in the film and demanded script revisions in exchange for shooting permission, even though this turned out to be a PG-13 rated film.

Warner Bros. then tried Martha's Vineyard near Chilmark, Massachusetts, but the Chilmark Conservation Commission turned down a request to build a temporary 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) house on stilts in the dunes near Chilmark Pond.[2]

Beach scenes were filmed at Popham Beach in Phippsburg, Maine.[3]

The fog-bound harbor near the end appears to be Rockland, Maine. None of the coastal scenes are the Outer Banks (the setting of the novel), which has neither rocks, bluffs, nor tall pines; nor does the Outer Banks have the roughly 40 foot tides indicated by the docks shown throughout the beginning of the film. Large tides in the Carolinas are 10 feet and that is extreme.



Critical response[edit]

The film received negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 32% based on 38 reviews.[4]

Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, praising the lead actors, particularly Paul Newman "steals every scene he's in", but criticized the contrived ending.[5]

Todd McCarthy called it a "dreary, lachrymose and incredibly poky tear-jerker" but conceded it had a built in audience among those who put the book on the bestseller list.[6]

Box office[edit]

Message in a Bottle opened at #1 on the Valentine Day's weekend of 1999 with an estimated $16.7 million. It grossed $52.8 million domestically with an additional $66 million internationally to a total of $118.8 million worldwide.[1]


Costner's performance in this film as well as For Love of the Game earned him a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actor, where he lost to Adam Sandler for Big Daddy.[7]


Irish music group Clannad wrote the song "What Will I Do" for the film. Singer Richard Marx also composed the song "One More Time", sung by Laura Pausini, which played during the credits.


External links[edit]