Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart is a 2019 American romantic drama film directed by Justin Baldoni (in his directorial debut)[5] and written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. The film was inspired by Claire Wineland, who suffered from cystic fibrosis.[6] Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse play two young patients with cystic fibrosis, who try to have a relationship despite always being forced to stay a certain distance (6 ft) away from each other. It was released in the United States on March 15, 2019 by CBS Films via Lionsgate.[1] The film received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed over $91 million worldwide.

Five Feet Apart
A boy and A girl Facing Each Other.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJustin Baldoni
Produced by
Written by
Music by
CinematographyFrank G. DeMarco
Edited byAngela M. Catanzaro
  • CBS Films
  • Welle Entertainment
  • Wayfarer Entertainment
Distributed by
Release date
  • March 15, 2019 (2019-03-15)
Running time
116 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[3]
Box office$91.5 million[4]


Stella Grant is a cystic fibrosis patient who actively uses social media to cope with her illness and tries to live a normal life. She meets another CF patient, William "Will" Newman, who is at the hospital for a medication trial, in an attempt to get rid of the bacterial infection (B. cepacia) he has in his lungs.

CF patients are strictly kept six feet apart to reduce the risk of cross-infection, as contracting bacterial infections from other CF patients can be dangerous - even life-threatening. Stella is determined to follow the rules, and initially dislikes Will, who likes to break the rules and take dangerous risks sometimes. Stella notices that Will isn't strictly following his treatment regimen and eventually gets him to agree to do so.

Will and Stella begin to fall for each other and secretly go on their first date, staying only five feet apart, Stella explaining she's "taking that foot -- for us." They eventually end up at the hospital pool, where they strip to reveal scars from their past surgeries. The next day is Will's birthday and Stella throws him a surprise dinner party with the help of Poe, Stella's best friend and a fellow CF patient.

Poe dies the next day which leaves her devastated. Initially she pushes away Will. Later realizing how Poe did not get to live his life, Stella decides to live hers and go see the lights with Will. The two end up on top of a frozen pond, dancing around. At the same time back at the hospital, a girl arrives in unsaveable critical condition, having being in a car accident. Her lungs are a suitable match to Stella. The nurse runs to find her gone from her room, and tries to contact her. Stella receives text messages, but ignores them. Stella and Will end up talking on a little bridge above the pond, where he receives a message from his mom (who is at the hospital) about Stella's lungs. Trying to convince Stella to go back to the hospital, she is now unwilling and doesn't see the point of extending her life by 5 years. While talking Stella falls backwards and lands back first on the pond, breaking the ice and falling in. Will is able to pull her out, but she is not breathing. He makes the difficult decision to give her mouth to mouth resuscitation, and saves her. At the hospital, Will convinces Stella to take the lungs. The lung transplant is successful, and Will learns that Stella miraculously did not contract his infection.

When Stella wakes up from her surgery, she sees Will through the glass of her room. He has set up a display of lights outside of her room, saying that his only regret was that she did not get to see the lights, so he brought them to her. He tells her that his drug trial isn't working, and he doesn't want her to have to deal with his eventual death. He gives her a notebook of his drawings of her and confesses his love for her. Will makes her close her eyes, because he says he won't be able to leave if she is looking at him. Stella closes her eyes and Will walks away. It is heavily implied that Will dies soon after this encounter.

Years later, Stella can be seen in a video on her channel, saying she misses Will's touch now that she has lost it forever.



In January 2017, Tobias Iaconis and Mikki Daughtry sold their untitled screenplay to CBS Films for Justin Baldoni to produce and direct.[7]

Baldoni first became involved with cystic fibrosis when he directed the documentary My Last Days. He met Youtuber Claire Wineland and subsequently hired her as a consultant for the film, before she died from complications of a lung transplant for CF.[8]

In January 2018, Cole Sprouse was cast to star in the film, titled Five Feet Apart.[9][10] In April of that year, Haley Lu Richardson was also set to star, and Moisés Arias joined in a supporting role.[11][12] Principal production began a month later on May 25 in New Orleans,[13][14] and concluded another month later on June 26.[15]

The film's title refers to the "six foot rule", a guideline from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation which states that cystic fibrosis patients should be kept at least six feet (1.8 m) apart from each other, to lower the risk of cross-infection. In 2020, about a year after the movie's release, a similar guideline for social distancing, would become universal, to help slow the spread of COVID-19, during the pandemic.[16]

A novelization of the same name by Rachael Lippincott was published in November 2018.[17]

Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian composed the score. The soundtrack was released on Lakeshore Records.


The film was released on March 15, 2019, by CBS Films via Lionsgate.[18] The studio spent $12 million on prints and advertising.[19]


Box officeEdit

Five Feet Apart grossed $45.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $34.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $80.1 million, against a production budget of $7 million.[4]

In the United States and Canada, Five Feet Apart was released alongside Captive State and Wonder Park, and was projected to gross $6–10 million from 2,600 theaters in its opening weekend.[20][3] The film made $5.4 million on its first day, including $715,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $13.1 million, finishing third, behind Captain Marvel and Wonder Park.[19] The film fell 35% in its second weekend, grossing $8.5 million, and just 27% in its third to $6.3 million.[21][22]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 53% based on 123 reviews, with an average rating of 5.70/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Elevated considerably by Haley Lu Richardson's performance but bogged down by clichés, Five Feet Apart doesn't tug at the heartstrings quite as deftly as it should."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while filmgoers at PostTrak gave it ​3 12 out of 5 stars.[19]

Andrew Barker of Variety praised the performance of Richardson, which he called "a star turn," though described the film as an "otherwise formulaic teen romance."[25] Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times acclaimed Richardson for the depth and range of her performance.[26] Caroline Siede of The A.V. Club commended the lead performances, but said "In the end... even Richardson and Sprouse can't fully overcome the clumsy mawkishness around them."[27]

Response from cystic fibrosis communityEdit

Responses from the cystic fibrosis community have been mixed. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation welcomed the opportunity to raise awareness about the struggle many patients experience with the disease,[28] while others found fault with the film's depiction of medically dangerous behavior.[29] Others voiced concern about a terminal illness being romanticized and trivialized as a Hollywood teen love plot device.[30]

The film was promoted using Instagram, where the studio paid influencers to post about hardships involving love and physical distance.[30] Many of the posts discussed family members who lived far away; the promotion was perceived as tone-deaf and trivializing a fatal disease.[31] After the ensuing backlash, the campaign was pulled and the studio apologized.[31]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Lionsgate Takes Over CBS Films' Distribution & Global Sales". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  2. ^ "Five Feet Apart". AMC Theatres. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Rubin, Rebecca (March 13, 2019). "Box Office: 'Captain Marvel' Heads for Heroic Second Weekend". Variety. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Five Feet Apart (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  5. ^ Carlin, Shannon (January 30, 2018). "Cole Sprouse Is Starring In Justin Baldoni's Directorial Debut & It Sounds Like A CW Dream". Bustle. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  6. ^ Cohen, Elizabeth. "'Fault in Our Stars': Katie Prager dies". CNN. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  7. ^ Busch, Anita (January 26, 2017). "CBS Films Buys Untitled Justin Baldoni Pitch In Vein Of 'The Fault In Our Stars'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  8. ^ "Five Feet Apart Paints Complicated Portrait of CF". CBS News.
  9. ^ Kit, Borys (January 30, 2018). "'Riverdale' Star Cole Sprouse to Star in Romantic Drama 'Five Feet Apart' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (January 30, 2018). "'Riverdale' Star Cole Sprouse Joins Romance Drama 'Five Feet Apart'". Variety. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  11. ^ Vlessing, Etan (April 12, 2018). "Moises Arias Joins Cole Sprouse in Romantic Drama 'Five Feet Apart'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  12. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 12, 2018). "Haley Lu Richardson To Star With Cole Sprouse In 'Five Feet Apart'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  13. ^ Steves, Ashley (n.d.). "Now Casting: Child Actors Wanted to Portray Patients in 'Five Feet Apart' Starring Cole Sprouse + 3 More Gigs". Backstage. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  14. ^ Scott, Mike (April 25, 2018). "Who's filming in Louisiana: From 'Captain Marvel' to a new 'Purge'". Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  15. ^ "FIVE FEET APART". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Epstein, Adam (November 5, 2018). "Cystic fibrosis advocates are worried about the upcoming film "Five Feet Apart"". Quartz. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  17. ^ "Rachael Lippincott '13 Publishes Five Feet Apart". George School. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  18. ^ McNary, Dave (May 31, 2018). "Film News Roundup: Haley Lu Richardson-Cole Sprouse's 'Five Feet Apart' Set for March Release". Variety. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 17, 2019). "'Captain Marvel' Rises To Second Best 2nd Weekend In March With $69M+ – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  20. ^ Faughnder, Ryan (March 13, 2019). "'Captain Marvel' is likely to crush 'Wonder Park' at the box office". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 24, 2019). "How Universal Drove Jordan Peele's 'Us' To $70M+ Opening, The Best Start For A Live-Action Original Since 'Avatar' – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  22. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 31, 2019). "'Dumbo' Hovers Low With $46M+ But Hopes On Matinees; Matthew McConaughey Hits Bottom With $1.7M 'Beach Bum'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  23. ^ "Five Feet Apart (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  24. ^ "Five Feet Apart Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  25. ^ Barker, Andrew (March 14, 2019). "Film Review: 'Five Feet Apart'".
  26. ^ Walsh, Katie. "Review: 'Five Feet Apart' elevates the sick teen genre with a poignant love story".
  27. ^ Siede, Caroline. "The maudlin Five Feet Apart anoints a new pair of winning young stars". Film.
  28. ^ "Five Feet Apart". Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. n.d. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  29. ^ Prahl, Amanda (March 4, 2019). "Five Feet Apart: The Science Behind the Serious Medical Condition in the New Film". PopSugar. Retrieved March 24, 2019 – via
  30. ^ a b Smith, Erika W. (March 18, 2019). "Five Feet Apart: All The Controversies, Explained". Refinery29. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  31. ^ a b Wyant, Paige (March 12, 2019). "Influencers Delete 'Five Feet Apart' Ads After Backlash From Cystic Fibrosis Community". Retrieved March 24, 2019.

External linksEdit