Paper Towns (film)

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Paper Towns
Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff as Margo Roth Spiegelman and Quentin "Q" Jacobsen respectively
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJake Schreier
Screenplay by
Based onPaper Towns
by John Green
Produced by
CinematographyDavid Lanzenberg
Edited by
Music bySon Lux
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 24, 2015 (2015-07-24)
Running time
109 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million[2]
Box office$85.5 million[3]

Paper Towns is a 2015 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jake Schreier from a screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, based on the 2008 novel of the same name by John Green. The film stars Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne, with Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, and Justice Smith in supporting roles. The story follows the search by Quentin "Q" Jacobsen (Wolff) for Margo Roth Spiegelman (Delevingne), his childhood friend and object of affection. In the process, Quentin explores the relationship with his friends, including his compatibility with Margo.

Paper Towns was released in the United States on July 24, 2015, by 20th Century Fox.[4] The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $85 million worldwide against a production budget of $12 million.[3] It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 20, 2015, and grossed over $9 million in total domestic video sales.[5]


Quentin "Q" Jacobsen lives across the street from Margo Roth Spiegelman in Jefferson Park, a subdivision of Orlando, Florida. She is a childhood friend from whom he has drifted over nine years after they discovered the corpse of a local lawyer, Robert Joyner, who killed himself after his divorce. Unbeknownst to Margo, Quentin has been infatuated with her since they became neighbors.

After reaching adolescence, Margo becomes one of the popular girls, with an adventurous reputation, at Jefferson Park High School.[a] In contrast, Quentin is kind, unassertive, and unpopular. His friends are fellow outcasts Benjamin "Ben" Starling and Marcus "Radar" Lincoln.

One night, Margo climbs through Quentin's window and recruits him for an all-night, revenge adventure. She has discovered that her boyfriend, Jason "Jase" Worthington, is having sex with one of her friends, Rebecca "Becca" Arrington. After buying supplies, Margo and Quentin pull humiliating pranks on Jason, Rebecca, and their friends, including Margo's best friend, Lacey Pemberton.

Margo believes Lacey knew about but did not tell her about the infidelity. However, it is later revealed that Lacey was unaware until she was pranked. The event gives Quentin hope that he finally has a chance to develop a closer relationship with Margo. He begins to learn how to assert himself and to take chances.

The next day Margo does not come to school and, after a few days, some consider her missing, while others conclude she left for an undisclosed location. Her parents will not report her missing to the police as she has run away from home repeatedly before, and they believe their daughter will return eventually.

After seeing a recently attached Woody Guthrie poster on her bedroom wall, Quentin realizes that Margo deliberately left clues to let him know where she is going. Benjamin and Marcus start searching for other clues in hopes of finding Margo so that Quentin can confess his feelings to her. Quentin bribes Margo's sister Ruthie so they can look for clues in her room.

When Quentin, Benjamin, and Marcus attend a party at Jason's house, Lacey argues with Rebecca over her betrayal of Margo with Jason. Because of her loyalty to Margo and her revulsion towards Rebecca and Jason's affair, Lacey leaves in disgust. Quentin finds her in a bathroom and gets to know her. He discovers that, beneath her superficial exterior, she is an intelligent and compassionate person, and they become friends.

After finding more clues, Quentin and his friends are led to an old gift store at an abandoned strip mall. They find a map that Margo used, and discover that she has been hiding in Agloe, a paper town located in the state of New York. Quentin and his friends, including Marcus's girlfriend Angela, go on two-day road trip to find Margo. The group plans to be home in time for prom after they find her. They bond on the way, as Benjamin and Lacey decide to go to the prom together, and Marcus and Angela consummate their relationship.

When the group does not find Margo where they expect her to be, Quentin stays in Agloe while the others return home with his car. He finds her on the street and admits his romantic feelings for her, but she does not feel the same way. Margo ran away from home to escape her dysfunctional family life and figure out who she is. She left the clues to let Quentin know that she is safe, not to invite him to follow her.

Margo remains in Agloe. Quentin books a bus ticket home, and they share a farewell kiss. Before he leaves, she tells him that she has been in contact with Ruthie since leaving Orlando. Returning to Orlando, Quentin enjoys the company of his friends at the prom. After graduation, he continues spending time with them throughout the summer and learns ambiguous stories about Margo before they all leave for college.


Nat Wolff
Cara Delevingne
Left to right: Nat Wolff stars as Quentin "Q" Jacobsen and Cara Delevingne as Margo Roth Spiegelman in the film.
  • Nat Wolff as Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, the film's lead protagonist
    • Josiah Cerio as young "Q"
  • Cara Delevingne as Margo Roth Spiegelman, Quentin's childhood friend and the object of his affection
  • Halston Sage as Lacey Pemberton, Margo's best friend, she later becomes one of Quentin's friends and Benjamin's prom date
  • Austin Abrams as Benjamin "Ben" Starling, one of Quentin's best friends
    • Kendall McIntyre as young Ben
  • Justice Smith as Marcus "Radar" Lincoln, one of Quentin's best friends
  • Jaz Sinclair as Angela, Marcus's girlfriend, and prom date, who later joins Quentin's circle of friends
  • Cara Buono as Connie Jacobsen, Quentin's mother
  • Griffin Freeman as Jason "Jase" Worthington, Margo's former boyfriend and Quentin's nemesis
  • Caitlin Carver as Rebecca "Becca" Arrington, Margo's former friend-turned-nemesis and Jason's new girlfriend
  • Meg Crosbie as Ruthie Spiegelman, Margo's sister
  • Susan Macke Miller as Debbie Spiegelman, Margo and Ruthie's mother
  • Tom Hillmann as Josh Spiegelman, Margo and Ruthie's father
  • RJ Shearer as Chuck Parson, Jason's best friend, Lacey's former boyfriend, and Quentin's nemesis
  • Jim Coleman as Detective Otis Warren with the Orlando Police Department
  • Lane Lovegrove as Robert Joyner, the local man whose corpse was found by Margo and Quentin after he committed suicide
  • Ansel Elgort (cameo) as Mason, the convenience store clerk who is infatuated with Lacey
  • Stevie Ray Dallimore as Hank Jacobsen, Quentin's father
  • John Green (voice) as Dwight Arrington, Rebecca's father



The rights to the film had been optioned since at least 2008;[7] Green wrote the first draft of the screenplay himself.[8]

Although the novel features a scene set in SeaWorld the location was changed after the release of the CNN documentary Blackfish which was highly critical of the theme park keeping orcas.[9][10] On March 24, 2014, Green announced via Twitter that Nat Wolff would be playing the protagonist Quentin "Q" Jacobsen.[11] Cara Delevingne's casting as Margo Roth Spiegelman was announced the following September.[12]


Although the novel is set primarily in Orlando, Florida, North Carolina's tax incentives for filmmakers made it the affordable choice for principal photography according to Green. The crew was encouraged to finish filming before December 31, 2014, the date when certain tax incentives would expire.[13]

Filming began on November 3, 2014, in and around Charlotte, North Carolina and concluded on December 19, 2014.[14][15][16] On November 17–18, filming was due to take place at the Mooresville Arts Depot in Mooresville, North Carolina but due to weather conditions the schedule was moved to November 18–19, when the film was shot on location both days.[17] Production was set to be moved to Wilmington, North Carolina on December 2 to film the high school scenes with extras,[18] but the venue was changed and filming took place in Cabarrus County, North Carolina outside of Charlotte instead.[19] Between December 2 through 8, the crew filmed at Central Cabarrus High School in Concord, North Carolina, which was transformed into "Jefferson Park High School". Cast members were dressed for warm weather even though it was cold.[6]


Cara Delevingne at premier of "Paper Towns"

The film was originally supposed to be released on July 31, 2015.[20] The release date was later changed to June 19[4] and then to June 5, the day before the first anniversary of The Fault in Our Stars' film release.[21] In March 2015, 20th Century Fox moved the release date to July 24, 2015, which was assigned to the release of Poltergeist. It was released on May 22 instead.[22] To tie in with the release of the film, an extra 1.5 million paperback copies of the book were printed.[23]


The soundtrack for Paper Towns consists of new and previously released material from Twin Shadow, Santigold, Grouplove, Haim, Vampire Weekend, The Mountain Goats, The War on Drugs, Galantis as well as Nat Wolff and his brother Alex. Atlantic Records' President of Film and TV, and soundtrack producer, Kevin Weaver, and music supervisor Season Kent, (both of whom worked on the soundtrack for The Fault in Our Stars in 2014) served as the soundtrack's producers.[24]

Paper Towns – Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 10, 2015 (2015-07-10)
Paper Towns – Music from the Motion Picture
No.TitleWriter(s)Original artistsLength
1."Radio"Amanda Lucille Warner; Jesse Shatkin; Santi WhiteSantigold3:09
2."To the Top"George Lewis Jr.Twin Shadow3:16
3."Search Party"Al Shuckburgh; Tommie Lee McLoughlinSam and Samantha Kay Bruno3:48
4."Swingin' Party"Paul WesterbergKindness3:57
5."Great Summer"Vance JoyVance Joy3:42
6."Taxi Cab"Ezra KoenigVampire Weekend3:56
7."Lost It to Trying" (Paper Towns mix)Ryan LottSon Lux4:05
8."My Type"Aaron Dale Moore Sharp; Alexander Leonard Jackson; Chondrak Lerdamornpong; Greg ErwinSaint Motel3:25
9."Runaway (U & I)" (Svidden & Jarly Remix)Anton Rundberg; Cathy Dennis; Christian Karlsson; Jimmy Koitzsch; Julia Karlsson; Linus EklöwGalantis3:22
10."Falling"Alana Haim; Danielle Haim; Este Haim; Morgan NaglerHaim4:19
11."No Drama Queen"GrouploveGrouplove2:43
12."Moments"Isaac Franco; Sean GuerinDe Lux6:11
13."Be Mine"Alice Boman; Tom MalmrosAlice Boman3:26
14."Used to Haunt"John DarnielleThe Mountain Goats2:43
15."Burning"Adam GranofskyThe War on Drugs5:45
16."Look Outside"Nat WolffNat and Alex Wolff2:55
Total length:60:51


Chart (2015) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[25] 44
US Billboard 200[26] 89
US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)[27] 6


Box office

As of October 15, 2015, Paper Towns has grossed $32 million in North America and $53.5 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $85.5 million, against a budget of $12 million.[3]

In the United States and Canada, the film opened at 3,031 theaters on July 24, 2015, alongside two other films, Pixels and Southpaw. Box office pundits projected the film would earn around $20 million in its opening weekend, facing direct competition with Pixels and the holdover of Ant-Man and Minions. Box office analysts also noted that it could have easily over-performed and had a higher debut, if teen girls – who are its primary target – had embraced the film and word-of-mouth had gone viral.[2][28][29] Paper Towns made $2 million from its Thursday night showings, which began at 9 p.m. at 2,500 theaters;[30] 500 of the screens had a live-streaming event before the film's screening.[30] It then earned $6.3 million on its opening day from 3,301 theaters.[31][32] In its opening weekend, the film grossed $12.5 million and finished 6th at the box office, falling short of industry projections and earning much less than the $48 million opening weekend gross of The Fault in Our Stars, a 2014 adaption of John Green's novel of the same name.[33]

It had a major worldwide release on July 24, 2015, in 34 markets grossing $7.9 million from 3,905 screens in 39 markets.[34] It opened in Brazil on July 10, 2015 – the first country to release the film – and earned $2.38 million in its opening weekend, from 630 screens, debuting at third place at the Brazilian box office, behind Minions and Terminator Genisys. However, in terms of admissions, it was second behind the former film.[35] It had notable openings in Mexico ($1.54 million) and in Australia ($1.53 million).[34][36] It was released in 18 additional countries in late July and early August, including Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.[34]

It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 20, 2015, and grossed over $9 million in total domestic video sales.[5]

Critical response

Paper Towns received mixed reviews from film critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 58% approval rating, based on 141 reviews, with a rating average of 5.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Paper Towns isn't as deep or moving as it wants to be, yet it's still earnest, well-acted, and thoughtful enough to earn a place in the hearts of teen filmgoers of all ages."[37] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 56 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[38] In CinemaScore polls conducted during its opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[32]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer Movie Won [39]
Choice Summer Movie Star: Male Nat Wolff Nominated
Choice Summer Movie Star: Female Cara Delevingne Won
Choice Movie: Breakout Star Cara Delevingne Won
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film Hannah Alligood Nominated [40]


  1. ^ In John Green's novel, the main characters' school is Winter Park High School, but in the film adaptation, it is Jefferson Park High School.[6]


  1. ^ "PAPER TOWNS (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. July 16, 2015. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Pamela McClintock (July 21, 2015). "Box-Office Preview: 'Pixels,' 'Paper Towns' Prepare for Battle With 'Ant-Man,' 'Minions'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Paper Towns (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Motsinger, Carol (October 27, 2014). "'Paper Towns' will begin filming in Charlotte next week". Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Paper Towns (2015)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Central casting: High school has starring role in 'Paper Towns'". Independent Tribune. July 26, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  7. ^ Green, John (October 24, 2008). "Paper Towns Movie!!11!!". Archived from the original on December 21, 2014. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  8. ^ Lighting Candles for Rwanda (at 2:48) on YouTube
  9. ^ Ford, Rebecca (January 16, 2015). "SeaWorld Scene Cut From John Green's 'Paper Towns' Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 23, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  10. ^ Is the Paper Towns Movie Like the Book? Thoughts on Adaptations on YouTube
  11. ^ Green, John (March 24, 2014). "Paper Towns will have the same screenwriters (@iamthepuma and @thisisweber), same producers (@wyckgodfrey), same studio, AND @natandalex". Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 16, 2014). "Cara Delevingne Lands Female Lead in John Green's 'Paper Towns' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  13. ^ Motsinger, Carol (September 25, 2014). "'Paper Towns' film adaptation coming to North Carolina". Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  14. ^ Schreier, Jake (October 28, 2014). "Camera test. 7 days til day 1. #papertowns". Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  15. ^ Lindquist, David (November 3, 2014). "Film shoot for John Green's 'Paper Towns' begins today". Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  16. ^ "'Paper Towns' has begun filming in Charlotte, NC". November 12, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  17. ^ "Downtown movie filming delayed by weather". November 16, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  18. ^ "John Green's 'Paper Towns' is about to move to Wilmington, NC & they need extras for a high school scene". November 24, 2014. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  19. ^ "'Paper Towns' is filming in Cabarrus County, NC this week". December 2, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  20. ^ Kilday, Gregg (August 1, 2014). "John Green's 'Paper Towns' Film Adaptation Gets Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  21. ^ McClurg, Jocelyn (December 23, 2014). "Author of the Year: John Green". USA Today. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  22. ^ Lesnick, Silas (March 4, 2015). "20th Century Fox Shifts Dates for Spy, Poltergeist and Paper Towns". Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  23. ^ Blanchard, Tamsin (July 31, 2015). "Paper Towns author John Green: 'I didn't know who Cara Delevingne was... but she gets Margo better than I do'". Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  24. ^ "PAPER TOWNS - ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK Arrives Amidst Wide Range of Celebrations". Reuters. Archived from the original on July 24, 2015.
  25. ^ " – Soundtrack – Paper Towns". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  26. ^ "Soundtrack Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  27. ^ "Soundtrack Chart History (Soundtrack Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  28. ^ Brent Lang (July 21, 2015). "Box Office: 'Pixels,' 'Paper Towns' Jump Into Crowded Summer Field". Variety. (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  29. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (July 21, 2015). "'Pixels', 'Paper Towns' & 'Southpaw' Vie For A Variety Of Demos – Box Office Preview". Deadline Hollywood. (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  30. ^ a b Dave McNarry (July 24, 2015). "Box Office: 'Paper Towns' Tops 'Pixels' With $2 Million on Thursday Night". Variety. (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  31. ^ Pamela McClintock and Rebecca Ford (July 24, 2015). "Box Office: 'Pixels' in Trouble; 'Southpaw' Could Beat 'Paper Towns'". The Hollywood Reporter. (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  32. ^ a b Anthony D'Alessandro (July 25, 2015). "Adam Sandler Wins Friday, But 'Ant-Man' Will Punch 'Pixels' Out Of No. 1 Spot – Late Night B.O. Update". Deadline Hollywood. (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  33. ^ Scott Mendelson (July 26, 2015). "Box Office: Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Southpaw' Hits $16.5M Weekend, John Green's 'Paper Towns' Nabs $12.5M". Forbes. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  34. ^ a b c Nancy Tartaglione (July 27, 2015). "'Minions', 'Ant-Man' Grow In Actuals; 'Pixels' Powered By Latin America – Intl B.O. Final". Deadline Hollywood. (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  35. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (July 13, 2015). "'Minions' Henchmen Runs Past $400M Worldwide & No. 1; 'Terminator' Generates $46.5M; 'Baahubali', China See Big Bows – Intl B. O. Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  36. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (July 20, 2015). "'Ant-Man' Shrinks A Tick; China's 'Monster' Smash Tops Overseas; 'Minions' No. 1 WW – Intl Box Office Actuals". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on July 20, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  37. ^ "Paper Towns (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 20, 2022.
  38. ^ "Paper Towns". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  39. ^ "WINNERS OF TEEN CHOICE 2015 ANNOUNCED". Teen Choice Awards. FOX. August 16, 2015. Archived from the original on August 18, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  40. ^ "Nominations, Award envelopes were opened on Sunday, March 13, 2016 for performances in 2015". Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2016.

External links