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 (John Cusack) meets Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) 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, Sara and Jonathan both forgot something at the ice cream bar. They return to get their things only to bump into 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. At the end of the night, they exchange of phone numbers. Sara writes hers down, but it flies away with the wind. Johnathan asks her to write it down again, but she takes the number flying with the wind as a bad sign. Wanting fate to work things out, Sara asks Jonathan to write his name and phone number on a $5 bill which she spends. She shows him the book in her purse Love in the Time of Cholera. She says she will write her name and phone number on the inside cover and sell it to a used book store the next morning. If they are meant to be together, they will find the items and contact each other.

Jonathan is not satisfied with this so they go into the Waldorf-Astoria and enter into different elevators and she tells them that if they both choose the same floor, they are meant to be together. She tells him her name is Sara as the doors close. They both choose floor 23. Jonathan's elevator stops on 14 and a little boy presses all the buttons causing Jonathan to arrive on floor 23 seconds after Sara leaves, after having arrived there and waited for several minutes. The two believe they've lost each other forever.

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

Jonathan returns to Bloomingdale's after finding an old receipt inside one of the cashmere gloves in an attempt to find Sara. He meets a salesman (Eugene Levy) and eventually, with the help of his best friend Dean Kansky (Jeremy Piven) 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, and stays at the Waldorf-Astoria, hoping that fate will bring back Jonathan. Celebrating Eve's birthday, Sara and Eve visit Serendipity. Eve is handed a $5 bill as change. Back at the Waldorf-Astoria, Eve bumps into an old friend from college — Halley — who is there to get married the next day. Halley invites Eve and Sara to the wedding without anyone realizing 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. He and Dean fly to San Francisco and when they arrives at her house, they observe 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 realizes 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 neighbors 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 yells "stop" and sees a man cleaning up the room. Sara asks the man if the wedding is over, and he says yes. As she is in tears and turning to leave, thinking that Jonathan already got married and she was too late, the man says Sara will get her wedding gift back because the wedding was called off, another way of saying "it's over". Eve gets in a cab to go to the airport and tells her to put on a jacket. Sara remembers she left her jacket in the Central 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 black cashmere glove falls on his chest. He turns on his side to see his black cashmere glove. Realizing he has them both, 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]