Rebel in the Rye

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Rebel in the Rye
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDanny Strong
Written byDanny Strong
Based onJ. D. Salinger: A Life
by Kenneth Slawenski
Produced by
CinematographyKramer Morgenthau
Edited byJoseph Krings
Music byBear McCreary
Distributed byIFC Films
Release dates
  • January 24, 2017 (2017-01-24) (Sundance)
  • September 8, 2017 (2017-09-08) (United States)
Running time
106 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$944,370[2]

Rebel in the Rye is a 2017 American biographical drama film directed and written by Danny Strong. It is based on the book J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski, about the life of writer J. D. Salinger during and after World War II. The film stars Nicholas Hoult, Zoey Deutch, Kevin Spacey, Sarah Paulson, Brian d'Arcy James, Victor Garber, Hope Davis, and Lucy Boynton.

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2017, and was released by IFC Films on September 8, 2017.


The life of author J. D. Salinger from his youth to the World War II era, including his romantic life and the publication of his debut novel The Catcher in the Rye.[3][4]



On April 29, 2014, it was announced that screenwriter-actor Danny Strong would make his directorial debut with biographical film Salinger's War, based on the non-fiction book J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski, about the life of young author J. D. Salinger during the early 1940s.[5] Strong bought the book with his own money and adapted the film's script, which Black Label Media would finance, while Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill, and Thad Luckinbill would produce the film along with Bruce Cohen, Jason Shuman, and Strong.[5] On August 31, 2015, Nicholas Hoult was cast in the biopic to play Salinger, and the film was re-titled as Rebel in the Rye.[6]

On January 19, 2016, Kevin Spacey joined the film to play Whit Burnett, a lecturer at Columbia University, editor of the Story magazine, and a mentor of the young Salinger.[7] On February 12, 2016, Laura Dern, Brian d'Arcy James, and Hope Davis signed on to star in the film for unspecified roles.[8] On March 9, 2016, Zoey Deutch joined the film to play the playwright Eugene O'Neill's daughter Oona O'Neill, who had a relationship with Salinger,[9] and following her, Victor Garber also joined the film on next day to portray the role of Salinger's father, Sol Salinger.[10] On April 7, 2016, Lucy Boynton joined the film for an unspecified role,[11] and following her Sarah Paulson was cast to play Dorothy Olding, the loyal agent who supported the young Salinger throughout his career.[3] In May 2016, it was revealed that James Urbaniak had been cast as Gus Lobrano.[12]

Principal photography on the film began on April 26, 2016 in New York City.[4][3] Bear McCreary composed the film's score.[13]


The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2017.[14] Shortly after, IFC Films acquired distribution rights to the film.[15] It was theatrically released on September 8, 2017.[16]


Box office[edit]

Rebel in the Rye had a limited release in four theaters in its first week which was expanded to 45 more screens in second week. In its first week of release, the film made $44,280 (an average of $11,070),[17] and in its second week, it grossed $101,118 in the 49 theaters, with a cumulative total of $154,326.[18]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 29% based on 89 reviews, and an average rating of 5.2/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Rebel in the Rye attempts to dramatize J.D. Salinger's life and creative process, but falters with a lack of dramatic impetus or a cohesive thesis about the reclusive author."[19] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score 46 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20]

Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian gave three stars out of five, saying, "J. D. Salinger drama catches attention but sinks into cliche".[21]


  1. ^ "Printable Film Guide" (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Rebel in the Rye (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (April 26, 2016). "Sarah Paulson Joins J.D. Salinger Movie 'Rebel in the Rye'". Variety. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Evry, Max (April 26, 2016). "Sarah Paulson Joins J.D. Salinger Biopic Rebel in the Rye". Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  5. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela; Ford, Rebecca (April 29, 2014). "Danny Strong Making Directorial Debut With Biopic 'Salinger's War' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  6. ^ Ford, Rebecca (August 31, 2015). "TIFF: Nicholas Hoult to Play J.D. Salinger in Danny Strong's 'Rebel in the Rye'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 19, 2016). "Kevin Spacey Joins Nicholas Hoult In Danny Strong's J.D. Salinger Drama". Deadline. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  8. ^ Hipes, Patrick (February 12, 2016). "'Rebel In The Rye' Adds Laura Dern, Brian d'Arcy James & Hope Davis – Berlin". Deadline. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  9. ^ Hipes, Patrick (March 9, 2016). "Zoey Deutch Books Key Role In 'Rebel In The Rye'". Deadline. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  10. ^ Pedersen, Erik (March 10, 2016). "Victor Garber Joins 'Rebel In The Rye'; Ann Dowd Cast In 'Collateral Beauty'". Deadline. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  11. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 7, 2016). "'Sing Street's Lucy Boynton Joins 'Rebel In The Rye'". Deadline. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  12. ^ McNary, Dave (May 24, 2016). "James Urbaniak Joins Nicholas Hoult in 'Rebel in the Rye' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  13. ^ "Bear McCreary to Score Danny Strong's 'Rebel in the Rye'". FilmMusicReporter. December 14, 2016. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  14. ^ Patten, Dominic (December 5, 2016). "Sundance 2017: Robert Redford, New Rashida Jones Netflix Series, 'Rebel In The Rye' & More On Premiere, Docu, Midnight & Kids Slates". Deadline Hollywood.
  15. ^ Hipes, Patrick (February 28, 2017). "'Rebel In The Rye' Acquired By IFC Films". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  16. ^ "Rebel in the Rye". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  17. ^ "Rebel in the Rye' Tops Weak Indie Box Office". The Wrap. September 10, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  18. ^ "Ben Stiller's 'Brad's Status' Leads Off Fall Specialty Film Season". IndieWire. September 17, 2017.
  19. ^ "Rebel in the Rye (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  20. ^ "Rebel in the Rye reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  21. ^ Jordan Hoffman (January 25, 2017). "Rebel in the Rye review – JD Salinger drama catches attention but sinks into cliche". The Guardian.

External links[edit]