Won't You Be My Neighbor? (film)

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Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMorgan Neville
Produced by
  • Morgan Neville
  • Caryn Capotosto
  • Nicholas Ma
CinematographyGraham Willoughby
Edited by
  • Jeff Malmberg
  • Aaron Wickenden
Music byJonathan Kirkscey
Distributed byFocus Features
Release dates
  • January 19, 2018 (2018-01-19) (Sundance)
  • June 8, 2018 (2018-06-08) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million
Box office$22.8 million[1]

Won't You Be My Neighbor? is a 2018 American documentary film about the life and guiding philosophy of Fred Rogers, the host and creator of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, directed by Morgan Neville. The trailer for the film debuted on what would have been Rogers' 90th birthday, March 20, 2018.[2][3]

The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was released in the United States on June 8, 2018. It received acclaim from critics and audiences and grossed over $22 million, becoming the top-grossing biographical documentary ever produced and the 12th largest-grossing documentary ever produced.[4][5]

It was nominated for numerous awards, won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature, and was chosen by Time magazine as one of its top ten films of 2018.[6]


Filmmaker Morgan Neville examines the life and legacy of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the popular children's television program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.


One of the film's producers was Nicholas Ma, son of the famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. As a child, the younger Ma appeared twice as himself in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.[7][8]



Won't You Be My Neighbor? was shown at many film festivals including on January 19, 2018, at the Sundance Film Festival, February 24, 2018, at the Boulder International Film Festival, March 2, 2018, at the True/False Film Festival, March 16, 2018, at the Miami Film Festival, and May 5, 2018, at the Montclair Film Festival. It had a limited release in US theaters on June 15, 2018.[9] PBS aired the film on February 9, 2019, as part of the network's Independent Lens series.[10]

In November 2018, director Morgan Neville revealed that the original title of the film was The Radical Mister Rogers, but after the election of Donald Trump, the term "radical" had a negative connotation according to Neville.[11]


Box office[edit]

Won't You Be My Neighbor? made $475,419 from 29 theaters in its first weekend, and $1 million from 96 theaters in its second.[12] Expanding to 348 theaters the following week, it grossed $1.9 million, finishing tenth at the box office.[13] It was added to an additional 306 theaters in its fourth weekend (for a total of 654) and made $2.5 million, again finishing 10th.[14] It made $2.6 million the following weekend, becoming the highest-grossing documentary of 2018 in the process with $12.4 million.[15]

On July 27, the film became the highest-grossing biographical documentary of all-time, and on August 12 passed Bowling for Columbine to become the 12th-highest-grossing documentary overall.[16][17]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 255 reviews, and an average rating of 8.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Won't You Be My Neighbor? takes a fittingly patient and honest look at the life and legacy of a television pioneer whose work has enriched generations."[18] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 85 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

Leslie Felperin of The Guardian gave the film a score of 4 stars out of 5, writing that the film "revel's that [Rogers] really was just what he seemed to be at first innocent sight: a kind-hearted, square but saintly man who genuinely loved and understood children."[20] Amy Nicholson of Variety wrote: "Neville's fantastic archival footage reveals the man through his work—or at least, it reveals his philosophies, if not the childhood memories that gave Rogers the ability to understand a four-year-old's brain, almost as if he still carried his in his cardigan pocket."[21]

David Edelstein of New York magazine wrote: "the most important thing we’re meant to take away is that no matter how we look or feel (sad, mad, plaid), we’re special, each of us, loved unconditionally by this nice, nice man." He concluded: "Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a wonderful breather from reality, from which you come back more conscious of — and dismayed by — the hate that more than ever runs the world."[22]

Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone wrote, "funny, touching...and timeless."[23]

J. R. Jones, writing for the Chicago Reader, was more critical of the film in his review, saying: "Nobody wants to hate on Mr. Rogers, so Neville quickly brushes aside the conservative criticism that Mister Rogers' Neighborhood...may have helped foster our modern American culture of self-involvement and hypersensitivity. This gentle, positive treatment of Rogers coincides with the show's values but devalues his enormous social importance."[24]

In December 2018, former US President Barack Obama listed the film as one of his favorite films of 2018.[25]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Dorian Awards January 12, 2019 Documentary of the Year Won't You Be My Neighbor? Won [26]
Golden Trailer Awards May 31, 2018 Best Documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? Won [28]
Critics' Choice Documentary Awards November 11, 2018 Best Director Morgan Neville Won [29]
Best Documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? Won
Best Editing Jeff Malmberg and Aaron Wickenden Won
Most Innovative Documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 14, 2018 Original Score—Documentary Jonathan Kirkscey Nominated [30]
Gotham Awards November 26, 2018 Audience Award Won't You Be My Neighbor? Won [31]
Best Documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? Nominated
IDA Documentary Awards December 8, 2018 Best Feature Won't You Be My Neighbor? Nominated [34]
National Board of Review January 8, 2019 Top 5 Documentaries Won't You Be My Neighbor? Won [35]
Cinema Eye Honors January 10, 2019 Audience Choice Prize Won't You Be My Neighbor? Nominated [36]
Outstanding Achievement in Editing Jeff Malmberg and Aaron Wickenden Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation Ariel Costa and Rodrigo Miguel Rangel Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking Won't You Be My Neighbor? Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards January 19, 2019 Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures Morgan Neville, Nicholas Ma, and Caryn Capotosto Won [38]
Directors Guild of America Awards February 2, 2019 Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentaries Morgan Neville Nominated [39]
Satellite Awards February 17, 2019 Best Documentary Film Won't You Be My Neighbor? Nominated [40]
Independent Spirit Awards February 23, 2019 Best Documentary Feature Morgan Neville, Caryn Capotosto and Nicholas Ma Won [41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  2. ^ Evans, Greg (March 20, 2018). "'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' Trailer: Mister Rogers Reveals Guiding Force". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  3. ^ Rothman, Michael (March 21, 2018). "'Won't You Be My Neighbor' trailer reveals 'radical' Mister Rogers". Good Morning America. ABC News. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  4. ^ Gibson, Caitlin (August 12, 2019). "How Mister Rogers became a timeless oracle of parenting wisdom". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (November 20, 2019). "'Won't You Be My Neighbor', 'RBG' Nab Producers Guild Documentary Nominations". Variety. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  6. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (November 15, 2018). "The Top 10 Movies of 2018". Time. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  7. ^ Minow, Nell (June 7, 2018). "Nicholas Ma Tells the Story of Fred Rogers in "Won't You be My Neighbor?"". Cranberries.
  8. ^ DeForest, JJ (October 25, 2018). "'He would give you comfort but he wouldn't let you escape': Producer discusses Fred Rogers". The Spectrum.
  9. ^ Mendelson, Scott (June 16, 2018). "Friday Box Office: 'Ocean's 8' Drops 62%, 'Hereditary' and 'Solo' Hold". Forbes. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  10. ^ "Won't You Be My Neighbor? (PBS Premiere)". PBS. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  11. ^ "'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' Director Changed Doc Title After Trump's Election". The Hollywood Reporter. November 10, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  12. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 17, 2018). "'Incredibles 2' Even Stronger as Pixar Pic Soars to Amazing $181M—Early Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 24, 2018). "'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' With $150M Reps Uni's 2nd Highest Opening Ever—Sunday". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 1, 2018). "At $2.5B to Date, Summer's B.O. Is More Colossal Than Ever Imagined; Dinos Still Rule with $60M+ Second Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  15. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 8, 2018). "'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Shrinks a Tick to $76M+ Opening, but Still 34% Bigger Than Original—Early Sunday Read". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  16. ^ McClintock, Pamela (July 27, 2018). "Box-Office Milestone: 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' Becomes Top-Grossing Biodoc". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  17. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 12, 2018). "August Audiences Get Hooked On 'Meg' Shelling Out $44.5M". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  18. ^ "Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  19. ^ "Won't You Be My Neighbor? Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Felperin, Leslie (November 8, 2018). "Won't You Be My Neighbor? review – shining a light on a kindly kids' TV idol". The Guardian. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  21. ^ Nicholson, Amy (January 21, 2018). "Film Review: 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'". Variety. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  22. ^ Edelstein, David (June 7, 2018). "Won't You Be My Neighbor? Will Make You Miss Mister Rogers". Vulture. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  23. ^ Travers, Peter (June 7, 2018). "'Won't You Be My Neighbor?': Vital Doc Shares TV Icon Mr. Roger's Vision". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  24. ^ Jones, J. R. (June 7, 2018). "Won't You Be My Neighbor?". Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  25. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (December 28, 2018). "'Black Panther', 'Roma', 'Won't You Be My Neighbor' Among Barack Obama's List Of Favorite Films Of 2018". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  26. ^ Modiano, Alexander (January 9, 2019). "LGBTQ Critics Give Top Honors to The Favourite, Pose, Schitt's Creek at Dorian Awards". The Advocate. Archived from the original on October 23, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  27. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (January 5, 2019). "'The Favourite' and 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' Lead 10th Annual Dorian Awards Nominations". Collider. Archived from the original on October 23, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  28. ^ "Best Documentary (GTA19/2018)". Golden Trailer Awards. Archived from the original on June 10, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  29. ^ Lewis, Hilary (November 10, 2018). "Mr. Rogers Film 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' Tops Critics' Choice Documentary Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  30. ^ Xu, Linda (November 15, 2018). "Hollywood Music in Media Awards: Full List of Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  31. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (November 26, 2018). "Gotham Awards: A24 Sweeps With Five Wins, Including 'First Reformed,' 'Eighth Grade' (Full Winners List)". Variety. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  32. ^ Sharf, Zack (October 18, 2018). "2018 Gotham Awards Nominations: 'The Favourite' and 'First Reformed' Lead the Pack". IndieWire. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  33. ^ Mandinach, Zach (October 18, 2018). "Nominations Announced for the 28th Annual IFP Gotham Awards". Independent Filmmaker Project. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  34. ^ Lewis, Hilary (October 24, 2018). "IDA Documentary Awards: Mister Rogers Doc 'Won't You Be My Neighbor' Among Best Feature Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  35. ^ Lewis, Hilary (November 27, 2018). "'Green Book' Named Best Film by National Board of Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  36. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (November 8, 2018). "Hulu's 'Minding the Gap' Ties Cinema Eye Honors All-Time Nominations Record". Variety. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  37. ^ "Cinema Eye Honors nominations: 'Minding the Gap' and 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' boosted in Documentary Feature race". Gold Derby. November 8, 2018. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  38. ^ "All Motion Picture and TV Nominations for 30th Annual Producers Guild Awards presented by Cadillac". Producers Guild of America. January 4, 2019. Archived from the original on January 5, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  39. ^ "'RBG,' 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' get directors guild noms". AP News. January 7, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  40. ^ "2018 Awards Winners". International Press Academy. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  41. ^ "2019 Indie Spirit Awards Winners: Complete List". Variety. February 23, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2019.

External links[edit]