School of Rock
|School of Rock|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Linklater|
|Produced by||Scott Rudin|
|Written by||Mike White|
Joey Gaydos Jr.
|Music by||Craig Wedren|
|Edited by||Sandra Adair|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$131.3 million|
School of Rock is a 2003 comedy film directed by Richard Linklater, produced by Scott Rudin, and written by Mike White. The film stars Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Joey Gaydos Jr. and Miranda Cosgrove. Black plays struggling rock guitarist Dewey Finn, who is kicked out of his band and subsequently disguises himself as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. After witnessing the musical talent of his students, Dewey forms a band of fourth-graders to attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands and pay off his rent.
School of Rock was released on October 3, 2003, by Paramount Pictures, grossing $131 million worldwide on a $35 million budget. It was the highest grossing music-themed comedy of all time, until it was overtaken in 2015 by Pitch Perfect 2. A stage musical adaptation opened on Broadway in December 2015, and a television adaptation for Nickelodeon premiered on March 12, 2016.
No Vacancy, a rock band, performs at a nightclub three weeks before auditioning for a Battle of the Bands competition. Guitarist Dewey Finn performs on-stage antics, including a failed stage dive that abruptly ends the performance. The next morning, Finn wakes in the apartment he lives in with Ned Schneebly and his girlfriend, Patty DiMarco. They inform him he must make up for his share of the rent or move out. When Finn meets No Vacancy at a rehearsal session, he finds out that he has been replaced by another guitarist named Spider. Later, while attempting to sell some of his equipment for rent money, Finn answers a phone call from Rosalie Mullins, the principal of the Horace Green prep school, inquiring for Schneebly about a short-term position as a substitute teacher. Desperate for money, Finn impersonates Schneebly and is hired. On his first day at the school, Finn adopts the name "Mr. S" as he is unable to spell 'Schneebly', and spends his first day behaving erratically, much to the class's confusion.
The following day, Finn overhears a music class and devises a plan to form them into a new band to audition for Battle of the Bands. He casts Zack Mooneyham as lead guitarist, Freddy Jones as drummer, cello player Katie on bass, Lawrence on keyboard, and himself as lead vocalist and guitarist. He assigns the rest of the class to various roles of backup singers, groupies, roadies and security, with Summer Hathaway as band manager. The project takes over normal lessons, but helps the students to embrace their talents and overcome their problems. He reassures Lawrence, who feels nerdy, and is worried about not being cool enough for the band; Zack, whose overbearing father disapproves of rock; and Tomika, an overweight girl who is too self-conscious even to audition for backup singer, despite having an amazing voice. During one eloquent lesson, he teaches the kids that rock and roll is the way to "Stick it to the Man" and stand up for themselves. Band "groupies" Michelle and Eleni, with Hathaway's approval, pitch the band name "The School of Rock".
Two weeks into his hiring, Finn sneaks his key band members out of school to audition for a spot in the Battle of the Bands competition, while the rest of the class stay behind to maintain cover. When Freddy wanders off to be with other much older musicians, but Finn retrieves him and chastises him for doing so. Unfortunately the group is rejected as the bill is full. However; Hathaway comes up with a plan to trick the organizers into thinking that the band is made up entirely of terminally ill children. The plan works, and the band is set to play. The next day, Mullins decides to check on Finn's teaching progress, forcing Finn to teach actual material. Mullins explains that a parents' night will take place at the school the day before Battle of the Bands, rendering Finn somewhat concerned.
As Finn prepares for the parents' night, Schneebly receives a paycheck from the school via mail and realizes that Finn has been impersonating him. During the parents' meeting, the parents question what Finn has been teaching the kids until Schneebly, DiMarco and the police confront Finn. With Mullins bursting in to question what is going on, Finn reveals his true identity, admits he's not a licensed teacher and flees to his apartment where he and DiMarco later argue. Schneebly intervenes to break up the argument. Finn apologizes to Schneebly and admits he can't give up music. Understanding, Schneebly opens up to Finn, stating that he misses his old life being part of a rock band called Maggot Death, and explains that he chose to move on with his life after realizing that it wasn't becoming the career he had hoped it would be. Schneebly suggests that Finn should do the same, and also move out.
The next morning, the parents chastise Mullins in her office. The kids decide not to let their hard work go to waste and sneak out of the school. When the new substitute discovers that they are missing, she informs Mullins, who determines that they've gone to the competition. A school bus with the kids comes to pick up Finn, which takes them to the Battle of the Bands competition where they decide to play the song written by Zack earlier in the film. Initially dismissed as a gimmick, the band wins over the crowd. However, much to Finn's dismay; the band 'No Vacancy' wins. During this announcement, the audience chants "School of Rock", demanding an encore. The Band retakes the stage and plays their song again.
Meanwhile, in the audience Schneebly, Mullins, and all of the kid's parents have arrived. They are impressed and proud of Finn and the band, much to the dismay of DiMarco, whom Schneebly breaks up with.
Some time later, an after-school program known as the School of Rock has opened. We see Finn continuing to coach the students he previously played with, while Schneebly teaches beginner students.
- Jack Black as Dewey Finn (lead singer, guitar) an energetic, down-on-his-luck guitarist slacker
- Joan Cusack as Principal Rosalie "Roz" Mullins
- Mike White as Ned Schneebly, Dewey's responsible but submissive roommate and best friend
- Sarah Silverman as Patty Di Marco, Ned's domineering girlfriend
- Miranda Cosgrove as Summer "Tinkerbell" Hathaway (band manager), the class factotum
- Joey Gaydos Jr. as Zack "Zack-Attack" Mooneyham (lead guitar)
- Kevin Clark as Freddy "Spazzy McGee" Jones (drums)
- Rebecca Brown as Katie "Posh Spice" (bass)
- Robert Tsai as Lawrence "Mr. Cool" (keyboards)
- Maryam Hassan as Tomika "Turkey Sub" (second singer, lead choir)
- Caitlin Hale as Marta "Blondie" (choir)
- Aleisha Allen as Alicia "Brace Face" (choir)
- Brian Falduto as Billy "Fancy Pants" (band stylist)
- Zachary Infante as Gordon "Roadrunner" (assistant, lights)
- James Hosey as Marco "Carrot Top" (assistant, special effects)
- Angelo Massagli as Frankie "Tough Guy" (security)
- Cole Hawkins as Leonard "Short Stop" (security)
- Jordan-Claire Green as Michelle (groupie)
- Veronica Afflerbach as Eleni (groupie)
- Adam Pascal as Theo (lead singer, guitar)
- Lucas Babin as Spider
- Pierre Leen as Neil (keyboard)
- Shawn Rodney as Shawn
Screenwriter Mike White's concept for the film was inspired by the Langley Schools Music Project. Various aspects of the plot were recognized as being similar to the 1957 Broadway hit The Music Man. Jack Black once witnessed a stage dive gone wrong involving Ian Astbury of rock band The Cult, which made its way into the film; "I went to see a reunion, in Los Angeles, of The Cult... it was just a bunch of jaded Los Angelinos out there, and they didn't catch him and he plummeted straight to the ground. Later I thought it was so hilarious. So that was put into the script." Many scenes from the movie were shot around the New York City area. The school portrayed in School of Rock is actually Main Hall at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. In the commentary, the kids say that all of the hallway scenes were shot in one hallway. One of the theaters used in many of the shots was at Union County Performing Arts Center located in Rahway, New Jersey.
The eponymous album was released on September 30, 2003. Sammy James Jr. of the band The Mooney Suzuki penned the title track with screenwriter Mike White, and the band backed up Jack Black and the child musicians on the soundtrack recording of the song. The film's director, Richard Linklater, scouted the country for talented 13-year-old musicians to play the rock and roll music featured on the soundtrack and in the film. The soundtrack includes "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin, a band that has rarely granted permission for use of their songs in film and television. Richard Linklater came up with the idea to shoot a video on the stage used at the end of the film, with Jack Black begging the band for permission with the crowd extras cheering and chanting behind him. The video was sent directly to the living members of Led Zeppelin, and permission was granted for the song. The video is included on the DVD.
Songs featured in the film
- "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" by AC/DC (Dewey uses the lyrics in a speech to the class)
- "Fight for Your Love" by No Vacancy*
- "Stay Free" by The Clash
- "Touch Me" by The Doors (Dewey sings this to Lawrence)*
- "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" Ramones cover by Kiss
- "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream*
- "Back in Black" by AC/DC
- "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath (riff Dewey plays to Zack)
- "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC (riff Dewey plays to Zack)
- "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple (riff Dewey plays to Zack)
- "Substitute" by The Who*
- "Greatest Love of All" by George Benson (Dewey mentions the lyrics as his reason for no testing)
- "Roadrunner" by The Modern Lovers
- "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)" by Ramones*
- "The Wait" (Killing Joke cover)" by Metallica
- "In the Ancient Times" by School of Rock
- "Sad Wings" by Brand New Sin
- "Mouthful of Love" by Young Heart Attack
- "Black Shuck" by The Darkness
- "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin*
- "Set You Free" by The Black Keys*
- "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks*
- "Ballrooms of Mars" by T. Rex*
- "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie
- "TV Eye" by The Stooges*
- "Ride into the Sun" by The Velvet Underground
- "Heal Me, I'm Heartsick" by No Vacancy*
- "School of Rock" by School of Rock*
- "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" (AC/DC cover) by School of Rock* (featuring The Mooney Suzuki)
- "Math Is a Wonderful Thing" by Jack Black and Mike White*
* Featured on the Soundtrack album
School of Rock received an approval rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 195 reviews with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Black's exuberant, gleeful performance turns School of Rock into a hilarious, rocking good time." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 82 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Box office performance
School of Rock opened at #1 with a weekend gross of $19,622,714 from 2,614 theaters for an average of $7,507 per venue. In its second weekend, the film declined just 21 percent, earning another $15,487,832 after expanding to 2,929 theaters, averaging $5,288 per venue, and bringing the 10-day gross to $39,671,396. In its third weekend, it dropped only 28 percent, making another $11,006,233 after expanding once again to 2,951 theaters, averaging $3,730 per venue, and bringing the 17-day gross to $54,898,025. It spent a total of six weeks among the Top 10 films and eventually grossed $81,261,177 in the United States and Canada and another $50,015,772 in international territories for a total gross of $131,282,949 worldwide, almost four times its budget of $35 million. This made School of Rock the highest-grossing music-themed comedy of all time, until it was overtaken in 2015 by Pitch Perfect 2.
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for several awards, including Black receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Comedy or Musical (which he lost to Bill Murray for Lost in Translation), and winning an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.
In 2008, Jack Black said that a sequel was being considered. It was later reported that director Richard Linklater and producer Scott Rudin would return. Mike White was returning as screenwriter, titled School of Rock 2: America Rocks, which picks up with Finn leading a group of summer school students on a cross-country field trip that delves into the history of rock 'n' roll. In 2012, Black stated that he believed the sequel was unlikely. "I tried really hard to get all the pieces together," he said. "I wouldn't want to do it without the original writer and director, and we never all got together and saw eye-to-eye on what the script would be. It was not meant to be, unfortunately," but added, "never say never".
On April 5, 2013, Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that he had bought the rights to School of Rock for a stage musical. On December 18, 2014, the musical was officially confirmed and it was announced that the show would receive its world premiere on Broadway in autumn 2015, at the Winter Garden Theatre. The musical has a book by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, and is directed by Laurence Connor, with choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter, set and costume design by Anna Louizos and lighting by Natasha Katz. The musical features an original score composed by Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and sound design by Mick Potter, in addition to music from the original film. School of Rock became Lloyd Webber's first show opening on Broadway before London since Jesus Christ Superstar in 1971.
On August 29, 2013, a 10-year anniversary screening of the film was held in Austin, Texas, at the Paramount Theatre. Those in attendance included director Richard Linklater, Jack Black, Mike White, Miranda Cosgrove and the rest of the young cast members, except for Cole Hawkins (who played Leonard). The event, hosted by the Austin Film Society and Cirrus Logic, included a red carpet, a full cast and crew Q&A after the screening, where the now-grown child stars discussed their current pursuits in life, and a VIP after-party performance by the School of Rock band during which "School of Rock" and "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" were played.
On August 4, 2014, Nickelodeon announced that they were working with Paramount Television on a television show adaptation of the film. Production started in the fall and the series premiered in 2016. It stars Breanna Yde, Ricardo Hurtado, Jade Pettyjohn, Lance Lim, Aidan Miner, and Tony Cavalero.
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