About a Boy (2002)

PG-13 | 101 mins | Comedy-drama | 17 May 2002

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Directors:

Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz

Cinematographer:

Remi Adefarasin

Editor:

Nick Moore

Production Designer:

Jim Clay

Production Companies:

Universal Pictures , Le Studio Canal, Working Title Films
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HISTORY

A 20 Oct 1997 DV article stated that Tribeca Productions, headed by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, and New Line Cinema had bought the rights to Nick Hornby's about-to-be published novel Father Figure (earlier known as Odd Numbers ) for $2.75 million, outbidding Miramax and Warner Bros. According to the film's pressbook, Hornby's subsequently published novel sold more than one million copies in the UK alone, and rights were sold in more than twenty countries. Two other novels by Hornby, Fever Pitch and High Fidelity were made into feature films by Working Title Films, in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Tribeca entered into a partnership with Working Title, which had earlier produced three highly successful films with Hugh Grant, whose own company had considered buying Hornby's novel, and he committed to the project.
       On 7 Dec 1998, Var reported that Peter Hedges had written a screenplay for the project, now titled About a Boy , and that Iain Softley had been signed to direct. Hedges's screenplay retained the London setting but portrayed the principal character, "Will," as an American. A DV article of 28 Nov 2000 stated that Softley had left the project over casting disagreements and that the writing-directing team of Chris and Paul Weitz, who had previously tried to acquire film rights to the novel, had been signed to direct. On 24 Jan 2001, DV reported that due to corporate restructuring at New Line, About a Boy had been "put into turnaround," although the Weitz brothers had just completed a rewrite of the screenplay and Grant was still ... More Less

A 20 Oct 1997 DV article stated that Tribeca Productions, headed by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, and New Line Cinema had bought the rights to Nick Hornby's about-to-be published novel Father Figure (earlier known as Odd Numbers ) for $2.75 million, outbidding Miramax and Warner Bros. According to the film's pressbook, Hornby's subsequently published novel sold more than one million copies in the UK alone, and rights were sold in more than twenty countries. Two other novels by Hornby, Fever Pitch and High Fidelity were made into feature films by Working Title Films, in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Tribeca entered into a partnership with Working Title, which had earlier produced three highly successful films with Hugh Grant, whose own company had considered buying Hornby's novel, and he committed to the project.
       On 7 Dec 1998, Var reported that Peter Hedges had written a screenplay for the project, now titled About a Boy , and that Iain Softley had been signed to direct. Hedges's screenplay retained the London setting but portrayed the principal character, "Will," as an American. A DV article of 28 Nov 2000 stated that Softley had left the project over casting disagreements and that the writing-directing team of Chris and Paul Weitz, who had previously tried to acquire film rights to the novel, had been signed to direct. On 24 Jan 2001, DV reported that due to corporate restructuring at New Line, About a Boy had been "put into turnaround," although the Weitz brothers had just completed a rewrite of the screenplay and Grant was still attached to the project. Two days later, on 26 Jan 2001, a DV article indicated that Universal Pictures, which had a new pact with Tribeca, was about to conclude negotiations to acquire the property budgeted at $30 million. Other contenders included Fox 2000, Miramax and DreamWorks.
       Shooting began in mid-Apr 2001 with London exteriors in St. James's Walk, Clerkenwell Green ("Will's" flat), in Kentish Town ("Fiona's" house), Notting Hill ("Rachel's" home) and Finsbury ("Marcus's" school). Other locations included Regent's Park and London Zoo. After seven weeks on location, the production moved to Shepperton Studios, where the interior of Will's flat and Fiona's house were built.
       Throughout the film Will and Marcus, in inner monologue voice-overs, comment upon the developments. The film's musical score was created by Badly Drawn Boy, the stage name of Damon Gough. The film's opening credits list Hugh Grant, Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz above the main title and include the following supporting actors: Isabel Brook, Sharon Small, Victoria Smurfit "and introducing Nicholas Hoult as Marcus." Although he had never appeared in a motion picture before, Hoult had previously worked on various British television productions.
       The film's closing credits include the following acknowledgments: "Scene from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? , courtesy of Celador Productions; Scenes from Countdown , courtesy of Yorkshire TV; Scene from Xena: Warrior Princess , courtesy of Studios USA Television Distribution LLC; Scene from Pet Rescue , courtesy of Endemol Entertainment UK Pic and Channel 4 Television; Scene from Bride of Frankenstein , courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing, Inc.; Scene from Billy Elliot , courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing, Inc." The credits also include a number of acknowledgments of thanks to various individuals and organizations, and to companies that provided products for the film.
       In addition to being selected by AFI as one of the top ten films of 2002, About a Boy received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture--Musical or Comedy and for Hugh Grant as Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture--Musical or Comedy. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also selected as one of Newsweeks ' Top 15 films of 2002 and was nominated by the London Film Critics Circle Awards for British Film of the Year and Best British Actor (Grant). Collette received the Best Supporting Actress Award from the Boston Society of Film Critics and Hoult was nominated as Best Young Actor by the Critics Choice Awards. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1997
p. 1, 14.
Daily Variety
28 Nov 2000.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jan 2001
p. 36.
Daily Variety
26 Jan 2001
p. 1, 51.
Daily Variety
1 Apr 2002.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 May 2002.
---
New York Times
17 May 2002.
---
New Yorker
3 Jun 2002.
---
Newsweek
20 May 2002.
---
People
27 May 2002.
---
Screen International
24 Oct 1997.
---
Screen International
27 Apr 2001.
---
Sunday Times (London)
28 Apr 2002.
---
Time
27 May 2002.
---
Variety
7 Dec 1998.
---
Variety
1 Apr 2002
p. 31, 38.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
In Order of Appearance
And introducing
Ellie's friends
Bitter ex-girlfriends
Additional SPAT women
Family in Mothercare car park
Candy throwers
Def Penalty Kru
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz Film
A Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3rd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
"A" Cam op/Steadicam
Focus puller
Focus puller, addl crew
Focus puller, addl crew
Loader, addl crew
Loader, addl crew
Key grip
Grip, addl crew
Grip, addl crew
Video assist op
Cam trainee
Video asst
Lighting gaffer
Best boy
Generator op
Elec
HOD rigger
Rigging gaffer
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Stand-by rigger
Stills photog
Cam and lenses by
Lighting equipment
Dailies telecine
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Draughts person
Art dept graphics
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
1st asst ed
1st Avid asst ed
UK Avid asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice ed
Editing dept trainee
UK editing facilities
Ed equipment
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Drapes
Prod buyer
Prod buyer
Prop master
Storeman
Dressing props
Dressing props
Dressing props, chargehand
Chargehand stand-by props
Stand-by props
Const mgr
HOD carpenter
Chargehand carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Stand-by carpenter
Stand-by carpenter
Supv stagehand
Stagehand
Stand-by stagehand
Wood machinist
HOD painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Stand-by painter
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Supv scenic artist, addl crew
Scenic artist, addl crew
Scenic artist, addl crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Key set cost
Cost asst
Cost asst
Cost dept runner
MUSIC
Mus/Songs prod
Mus supv
Orig score prod
Supv mus ed
Exec in charge of film mus for Universal Studios
Songs prod
Score arr and cond
Orchestra contracted by
Orch eng
Mix asst eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Dial ed
ADR supv
Foley ed
Foley
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec services and sd ed des provided by
ADR recorded at
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Dolby sd consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main titles by
Digital opticals and end credits by
MAKEUP
Makeup and hair des
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Ms. Weisz' makeup
Makeup artist, addl crew
Makeup artist, addl crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting asst
ADR voice casting
ADR voice casting
Background artists supplied by
Prod mgr
Loc supv
Loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc asst, addl crew
Loc scout, addl crew
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Accounts asst
Post prod accountant
Post prod accountant's asst
U.S. post prod accounting
U.S. post prod accounting
U.S. post prod accounting
Scr supv
Chief operating officer for Working Title
Exec in charge of prod for Working Title
Prod exec for Working Title
Head of legal & business affairs for Working Title
Vice President, legal & business affairs for Worki
Chief financial officer for Working Title
Asst to Eric Fellner for Working Title
Asst to Tim Bevan for Working Title
Legal adv for Working Title
Prod asst for Working Title
Prod coord
Asst coord
Post prod coord
Floor runner
Floor runner, addl crew
Floor runner, addl crew
Floor runner, addl crew
Weitz Brothers prod exec
Unit mgr
Fish animal handler
Duck Animal Handler
Food stylist
Script clearance
Product placement mgr
Asst to Hugh Grant
Asst to Jane Rosenthal
Prod runner
UK liaison to the Weitz Brothers
Set intern
Voice and dial coach
Guitar teacher/On set mus adv
Piano teacher
Tutor
Chaperone
Unit pub
Health & Safety
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Cam truck driver
Cost dept driver
Minibus driver
Minibus driver
Makeup truck driver
Makeup truck driver
Dining bus driver
Facilities driver
Facilities driver
Facilities driver
Facilities driver
Facilities driver
Facilities driver
Const run around driver
Props run around driver
Props stand-by driver
Security
Security
Loc facilities provided by
Facilities HOD
Art dept transport
Craft service
Craft service
Craft service
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stand-in for Mr. Grant
Stand-in for Nicholas Hoult
Stand-in for Toni Collette
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel About a Boy by Nick Hornby (London, 1998).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Rue de noir," music by Guy Barker, performed by The Guy Barker International Quintet, courtesy of Music House (Int.) Limited.
SONGS
"Something to Talk About," "A Peak You Reach," "A Minor Incident," "Walking Out of Stride," "Silent Sigh," "Above You Below Me" and "Donna and Blitzen," music and lyrics by Damon Gough, performed by Badly Drawn Boy, courtesy of XL Recordings Ltd., (Soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy on XL Recordings)
"Rainy Days and Mondays," music by Roger Nichols, lyrics by Paul Williams, performed by Alexandra Hill
"Santa's Super Sleigh," music and lyrics by Pete Brewis, performed by Lindsay Benson
+
SONGS
"Something to Talk About," "A Peak You Reach," "A Minor Incident," "Walking Out of Stride," "Silent Sigh," "Above You Below Me" and "Donna and Blitzen," music and lyrics by Damon Gough, performed by Badly Drawn Boy, courtesy of XL Recordings Ltd., (Soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy on XL Recordings)
"Rainy Days and Mondays," music by Roger Nichols, lyrics by Paul Williams, performed by Alexandra Hill
"Santa's Super Sleigh," music and lyrics by Pete Brewis, performed by Lindsay Benson
"Bitches and Friends," by Ron Rinaldi and Maestro Garofalo, performed by DJ Rodriguez, courtesy of IRMA Records
"Killing Me Softly with His Song," music and lyrics by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, performed by Toni Collette, Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult
"Zoo Station," by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, performed by U2, courtesy of Universal-Island Records Limited
"Feliz Navidad," music and lyrics by José Feliciano, performed by José Feliciano, courtesy of RCA Records/BMG Entertainment
"Sussex Carol," arranged by Sir David Willcocks, performed by The Cambridge Singers, courtesy of Collegium Records
"Shake Yo Ass," by Michael Tyler, Charles E. Hugo and Pharrell Williams, performed by Mystikal, courtesy of Zomba Records Ltd.
"Avoidance Learning," by Imran Hanif and Joti Mangat, performed by Dead Relative, courtesy of Universal-Island Records Limited
"Super Thug," by Pharrell Williams, Charles E. Hugo, Victor Santiago, Deborah Harry and Christopher Stein, performed by "Noreaga," courtesy of Tommy Boy Music (UK) Limited.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 May 2002
Premiere Information:
UK opening: 26 April 2002
Production Date:
mid April--late June 2001 at Shepperton Studios, London, location filming done in London
Copyright Claimant:
KALIMA Productions, GmbH & Co., KG
Copyright Date:
21 November 2002
Copyright Number:
PA0001106587
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital Surround-Ex; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound; dts Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Kodak; Color by Deluxe
gauge
35mm
Duration(in mins):
101
Length(in feet):
9,101
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
38482
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Will, an immature, self-absorbed, thirty-eight-year-old bachelor, lives in a well-appointed London flat, surrounded by all the latest gadgetry. Will has never worked and lives off the royalties of a popular Christmas song, "Santa's Super Sleigh," the only hit of his late, songwriter father. Although he enjoys seducing many women, Will is incapable of forming any meaningful relationships and fears commitment and parenthood. After his married friend Christine sets him up with one of her co-workers, Angie, the mother of a three-year- old boy, Will begins another temporary relationship. He is surprised, however, when, in a reversal of his normal routine, Angie thinks that Will is sensitive and supportive. After announcing that he is too good for her, she breaks up with him to attempt a reconciliation with her husband. Will then gleefully realizes that there must be many other single mothers who are not looking for a long-term commitment, and after locating a self-help group called SPAT, Single Parents Alone Together, attends one of their meetings, posing as the single father of a two-year-old son. Suzie, one of the mothers, shows an interest in Will, and they arrange to go on a picnic in Regent's Park. Faced with having to create evidence of his caring for a child, Will quickly buys an infant’s car seat for his imaginary boy. On the day of the picnic, Will explains to Suzie that his ex-wife has suddenly picked up his son for a visit. Suzie brings along the son of her best friend Fiona, twelve-year-old Marcus, who is not impressed by Will. However, when Marcus accidentally kills one of the park’s ducks with Fiona's stone-hard loaf of homemade bread, Will comes ... +


Will, an immature, self-absorbed, thirty-eight-year-old bachelor, lives in a well-appointed London flat, surrounded by all the latest gadgetry. Will has never worked and lives off the royalties of a popular Christmas song, "Santa's Super Sleigh," the only hit of his late, songwriter father. Although he enjoys seducing many women, Will is incapable of forming any meaningful relationships and fears commitment and parenthood. After his married friend Christine sets him up with one of her co-workers, Angie, the mother of a three-year- old boy, Will begins another temporary relationship. He is surprised, however, when, in a reversal of his normal routine, Angie thinks that Will is sensitive and supportive. After announcing that he is too good for her, she breaks up with him to attempt a reconciliation with her husband. Will then gleefully realizes that there must be many other single mothers who are not looking for a long-term commitment, and after locating a self-help group called SPAT, Single Parents Alone Together, attends one of their meetings, posing as the single father of a two-year-old son. Suzie, one of the mothers, shows an interest in Will, and they arrange to go on a picnic in Regent's Park. Faced with having to create evidence of his caring for a child, Will quickly buys an infant’s car seat for his imaginary boy. On the day of the picnic, Will explains to Suzie that his ex-wife has suddenly picked up his son for a visit. Suzie brings along the son of her best friend Fiona, twelve-year-old Marcus, who is not impressed by Will. However, when Marcus accidentally kills one of the park’s ducks with Fiona's stone-hard loaf of homemade bread, Will comes to his defense against the park keeper, and Marcus begins to look at him differently. When Will and Suzie drive Marcus home they discover that Fiona, a vegetarian hippie suffering from chronic bouts of depression, has attempted suicide. Later, after Fiona recovers and returns home, she resumes her tentative relationship with her son, who suffers at school due to his unconventional upbringing and nerdy appearance. Marcus, feeling that he cannot cope with his mother's problems by himself, decides he needs a back-up person in his family and phones Will to arrange for the three of them to meet in a restaurant. Will is not remotely interested in Fiona, nor is she interested in him, and the meeting goes badly. Over several days, Marcus follows Will during his aimless, self-indulgent excursions, then goes to his flat, accuses him of not having a son and offers not to tell anyone if Will agrees to date his mother. Will declines but Marcus does not give up and begins, without telling his mother, to visit Will every afternoon after school to watch Countdown , Will’s favorite television quiz show. Will begins to soften toward the boy when he learns that he is bullied at school because of his hair and out-of-fashion clothes, and takes him shopping for a pair of stylish sneakers. After paying for the shoes, Will realizes that he feels good about making Marcus happy. When the sneakers are stolen at school and Marcus arrives home shoeless on a stormy day, he is forced to tell Fiona about his visits with Will and that Will is not a father. Fearing the worst about Will's interest in her son, Fiona confronts Will in a restaurant, but he responds by criticizing her for not being aware of the torment Marcus is enduring in school. Fiona suddenly realizes that she has been misguided and asks Will to continue to see Marcus, but he is reluctant. Will, however, does accept Marcus’ invitation to join them for a Christmas dinner at their house, where he meets Marcus’ father and his current girl friend. Unfortunately for Will, Suzie is also invited and is angry with Will for lying about being a parent. To Will’s surprise, Marcus defends him, telling his mother that Will understands what kids need. At a New Year’s Eve party, Will meets Rachel, another single mother with a boy about Marcus’ age, and Will finds himself allowing her to believe that the boy he is speaking about is his son. Because Will is very attracted to Rachel, he is forced to enlist Marcus’ help in sustaining the deception when he visits Rachel at her home. Ali, Rachel’s maladjusted son, is in the same year at school as Marcus and, when they are alone, menacingly warns Marcus that he does not want his “father” becoming involved with his mother. Marcus suggests to Will that he should tell Rachel the truth about their relationship, and some time later, over dinner, Will begins by telling her that he is not Marcus’ natural father, then digs himself into a deeper hole until he is forced to confess the whole scheme and admit to being a “nothing.” One day, after Marcus finds his mother crying again, he assumes it is a prelude to another suicide attempt and decides to try to cheer and please her by signing up to perform her favorite song, “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” at a school rock concert. Marcus also asks Will to aid his mother, forcing Will, who is depressed over losing Rachel, the only woman he has ever cared about, to admit to him that he is unable to help in any meaningful way. Will begins to realize that his life is shallow and that knowing Marcus is the only thing that means something to him. Will then goes to another SPAT meeting and admits to all the mothers that he attended simply to meet women, whom he thought he could easily seduce. When Fiona tells Will that Marcus is singing in the school concert, Will realizes that the boy, who has no singing talent, will be further humiliated by performing the 1970s ballad in front of his rock- and rap-loving peers, and they both rush to the school to stop him. Even though the naïve Fiona feels that Marcus is simply expressing himself, Will convinces Fiona that Marcus is not expressing himself, but her. Meanwhile, the boy who was to accompany Marcus on a recorder decides not to subject himself to the embarrassment and drops out. When Will and Fiona reach the school, Will hurries backstage and tries to persuade Marcus not to perform, but he insists. Marcus is booed and heckled by his schoolmates, except Ellie, a popular girl on whom Marcus has a crush. Then Will suddenly appears from the wings with a guitar and plays and sings along with Marcus, eliciting a good response from the audience and saving the boy from social suicide. He also impresses Rachel, who is in the audience to watch Ali's performance. After the concert, Fiona thanks Marcus for the song and promises him that she will always be around. A few months later, Will hosts a Christmas dinner at his flat, with Fiona, Marcus, Rachel, Ali, Ellie and Tom, an Amnesty International worker who Will thinks would be perfect for Fiona. They have become a mutually supportive group of parents and children, and Will is considering asking Rachel to marry him. Thanks to Marcus, his twelve-year-old friend, Will has finally matured and come to realize, late in life, the value of friendship and commitment. +

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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.