Serendipity (film)

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Serendipity poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Chelsom
Produced by Peter Abrams
Simon Fields
Robert L. Levy
Julie Goldstein
Bob Osher
Amy Slotnick
Robbie Brenner
Written by Marc Klein
Starring John Cusack
Kate Beckinsale
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography John De Borman
Edited by Christopher Greenbury
Tapestry Films
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • October 5, 2001 (2001-10-05)
Running time
91 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million[2]
Box office $77,516,304[3]

Serendipity is a 2001 American romantic comedy film, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. It was written by Marc Klein and directed by Peter Chelsom. The music score is composed by Alan Silvestri.


During the Christmas season in New York City, Jonathan Trager meets Sara Thomas trying to buy the same pair of black cashmere gloves at Bloomingdale's. They feel a mutual attraction, and despite the fact that each is involved in other relationships, they end up eating ice cream at Serendipity 3 together, and soon exchange goodbyes. However, both realise that they have left something at the ice cream bar, and return only to find each other again.

Considering this to be a stroke of fate, Jonathan and Sara decide to go out on the town together, and ice skate on the Wollman Rink at Central Park. Jonathan teaches Sara about Cassiopeia, saying that the freckles on Sara's arm match the pattern of the Cassiopeia constellation. At the end of the night, the smitten Jonathan suggests an exchange of phone numbers. Sara writes hers down, but it flies away with the wind. Wanting fate to work things out, Sara asks Jonathan to write his name and phone number on a $5 bill, while she writes her name and number on the inside cover of a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera. If they are meant to be together, he will find the book and she will find the $5 bill, and they will find their way back to each other. Jonathan is not satisfied with this so they go into a hotel with 28 floors and enter into different elevators to see if they both choose the same floor. They each take a single glove from the pair they purchased, and each of them chooses floor 23. A little boy gets on the elevator with Jonathan and presses the buttons, for virtually every floor, causing Jonathan to arrive on floor 23 seconds after a somewhat disappointed looking Sara disappears inside an elevator. The two believe they've lost each other for ever.

Several years later, Jonathan is at an engagement party with his fiancée Halley Buchanan. On the same day Sara comes home to find her boyfriend Lars Hammond, a famous musician, proposing to her. As their wedding dates approach, each find themselves with a case of cold feet, and decide to return to New York in an attempt to find each other again.

Jonathan returns to Bloomingdale's in an attempt to find Sara. He meets a salesman and eventually, with the help of his best friend Dean Kansky and the salesman, Jonathan ends up with only an address. After additional research, Jonathan and Dean meet an artist who recalls that Sara lived with him for a short time after being referred by a placement company, which he identifies as being located in a shop next to Serendipity 3. Jonathan and Dean follow the lead to find that the agency has moved and its former location is now a bridal shop. Jonathan takes this as a sign that he is supposed to stop looking for Sara, and get married to Halley.

Sara takes her best friend Eve with her to New York, where she visits the locations of her date, hoping that fate will bring back Jonathan. Celebrating Eve's birthday, Sara and Eve visit Serendipity. Eve is handed a $5 bill as change. At the Waldorf Astoria, Eve bumps into an old friend — Halley — who is there to get married the next day. Halley invites Eve and Sara to the wedding without anyone realising the groom is Jonathan. Sara returns to her hotel room, where she finds Lars, who followed her to New York. While with Lars, she sees Cassiopeia in the sky, and breaks her engagement with him.

The night before their wedding, Halley hands Jonathan a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera as a gift, having noticed him picking up the book every time they're in a bookstore. It is the copy that Sara had written in, and he immediately sets off to find her. When he arrives at her house, he sees Sara's sister, Caroline, inside being intimate with her husband. Thinking it is Sara and now feeling foolish and defeated returns home for his own wedding.

Sara decides not to attend the wedding, and starts her journey home. On the plane, she finds that her wallet has been mistakenly switched with Eve’s. As she reaches inside to pay for a head set (for the in-flight movie) she realises the $5 bill she hands to the flight attendant is the one which Jonathan wrote on several years earlier. She takes the $5 bill & gets off the plane to search for him. His neighbours tell her he’s getting married the same day. She rushes to the hotel, only to see a man, apparently cleaning up remnants of the end of the ceremony. She is in tears and turning to leave, when the man cleaning up remarks, how sad that the wedding was called off. She leaves and later remembers she left her jacket in the park.

Jonathan, while aimlessly wandering around, finds himself in Central Park and Sara's jacket while sitting on a park bench... and eventually wanders out onto what was a skating rink the first day they met (but now is a roller-skating rink during the warmer weather) and spent together. He lies down on the rink surface and uses the jacket he finds as a pillow. As snowflakes begin to fall, a glove falls on his chest. He looks up to see Sara. They introduce themselves to each other formally for the first time. The film concludes with Sara and Jonathan at Bloomingdale's, enjoying champagne on their anniversary at the same spot where they first met.



Serendipity was shot in New Jersey, New York City, Ontario, and San Francisco, California in the spring of 2001. Following the 9/11 attacks, images of the World Trade Center towers were digitally removed from all skyline shots of New York City.


Critical reception[edit]

Serendipity received mixed to positive reviews; based on 130 reviews, the film holds a 58% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. The general consensus states: "Light and charming, Serendipity could benefit from less contrivances."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a 52/100 rating, signifying "mixed or average reviews".[5]

Roger Ebert gave the film 1½ out of 4 stars.[6]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #2 at the U.S. box office earning $13,309,241 in its opening weekend, behind Training Day. With an estimated budget of $28 million, this was the first of Chelsom's films to turn a profit.[2] After some of the biggest commercial failures of all time (Town & Country),[7] Serendipity marked the first of several box-office successes for Chelsom, peaking in 2009 with Hannah Montana: The Movie. The film grossed $50,294,317 in the domestic box office and $27,221,987 internationally for a worldwide total of $77,516,304.[3]


Serendipity (Music From The Miramax Motion Picture)
Soundtrack album by Various
Released October 5, 2001
Label Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
Columbia Records
Miramax Records

Not included within the release of the soundtrack


The $5 banknote with Jon's name and phone number is shown three times in the film: On the first evening, when Jon initially labels the banknote, years later when Eve gets the note as change and the following day when Sara uses the note to pay on the plane. The inscription varies slightly from scene to scene. This can be explained as a simple requisite error or tells a detail of the story which is not shown in the film: To increase his chances Jon may have labeled many more $5 banknotes and passed them on.

See also[edit]

  • Serendipity
  • Missed connection is a term that describes the kind of situation where two people want to reconnect after an initial meeting but neither has the other's contact details.


  1. ^ "SERENDIPITY (PG)". Buena Vista International. British Board of Film Classification. October 31, 2001. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Box Office Results from". Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Serendipity (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Serendipity". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Serendipity Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Serendipity Movie Review & Film Summary". Ebert, Roger. October 5, 2001. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ "All-Time Best & Worst at the Box-Office". Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
| Movie budget records. (1997-2010). Retrieved from
| Serendipity. (2001). New York Times, Retrieved from
| Serendipity. (1997-2010). Retrieved from

External links[edit]