Hamilton is a 2020 American biographical musical drama film consisting of a live stage recording of the 2015 Broadway musical of the same name, which was inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, 5000 Broadway Productions, RadicalMedia, Nevis Productions, and Old 320 Sycamore Pictures, it was directed by Thomas Kail, who also produced the film with Jeffrey Seller and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda, who wrote the music, lyrics, and book for the musical, also stars as Treasury Secretary and Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, along with the musical's original principal Broadway cast, including Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, Christopher Jackson, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Okieriete Onaodowan, and Jonathan Groff.
|Directed by||Thomas Kail|
|Written by||Lin-Manuel Miranda|
|Based on||Alexander Hamilton|
by Ron Chernow
|Edited by||Jonah Moran|
|Music by||Lin-Manuel Miranda|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
|Budget||$12.5 million (stage production)|
Originally planned for theatrical release on October 15, 2021, Hamilton was instead released worldwide by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures to stream on Disney+ on July 3, 2020. Acclaimed by critics for its visuals, performances, and direction, it became one of the most-streamed films of 2020. The film was named as one of the best films of 2020 by the American Film Institute, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (for Miranda) at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, while Daveed Diggs was nominated for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie. Hamilton was also nominated for twelve Primetime Emmy Awards, and won two, including Outstanding Variety Special.
Hamilton narrates Alexander Hamilton's life in two acts, and details among other things his involvement in the American Revolutionary War as an aide-de-camp to George Washington, his marriage to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, his career as a lawyer and secretary of the treasury, and his interactions with Aaron Burr which culminates in their duel at the end of Hamilton's life.
Act I edit
The orphan Alexander Hamilton experiences a hard early life, and through his smarts and the charitability of the townsfolks leaves his home, the island of Nevis ("Alexander Hamilton"). As a student at King's College in New York in 1776, Hamilton meets Aaron Burr, John Laurens, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan ("Aaron Burr, Sir"), and impresses them with his rhetorical skills ("My Shot"). The latter three and Hamilton affirm their revolutionary goals to each other, while Burr remains apprehensive ("The Story of Tonight"). Later, the daughters of the wealthy Philip Schuyler—Peggy, Angelica, and Eliza—go into town and share their opinion on the upcoming revolution ("The Schuyler Sisters"). Loyalist bishop Samuel Seabury argues against the revolution ("Farmer Refuted") and King George III insists on his authority ("You'll Be Back"). During the New York and New Jersey campaign, Hamilton accepts a position as George Washington's aide-de-camp despite longing for field command ("Right Hand Man").
At a ball hosted by Philip Schuyler ("A Winter's Ball"), Eliza falls helplessly in love with Hamilton, who reciprocates her feelings to the point of marriage ("Helpless"), as Angelica suppresses her own feelings for the sake of their happiness ("Satisfied"). After the wedding, Burr and Hamilton congratulate each other's successes ("The Story of Tonight (Reprise)") while Burr reflects on Hamilton's swift rise while considering his own more cautious career as well as his affair with Theodosia, the wife of a British officer ("Wait For It").
As conditions worsen for the Continental Army ("Stay Alive"), Hamilton aids Laurens in a duel against Major General Charles Lee ("Ten Duel Commandments"), after which Washington temporarily suspends him from the army ("Meet Me Inside"). Back home, Eliza reveals that she is pregnant with their first child, Philip, and asks Hamilton to slow down to take in what has happened in their lives ("That Would Be Enough"). After Lafayette persuades France to get involved on the colonists' side, he urges Washington to call Hamilton back to help plan the final Battle of Yorktown. Washington agrees ("Guns and Ships"), but explains to Hamilton, who is convinced that he should die a martyr and a hero in war, that he should be wary of what he does next because whatever he does will be known for all time ("History Has Its Eyes on You"). At the Battle of Yorktown, Hamilton meets up with Lafayette to take down the British, revealing that Mulligan was recruited as a spy, helping them figure out how to trap the British and win the war ("Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)").
Soon after the victory of Yorktown, King George asks the newborn America how it will succeed on its own ("What Comes Next?"). Hamilton's son Philip is born, while Burr has a daughter, Theodosia, and the two tell their children how they will do anything to protect them ("Dear Theodosia"). Hamilton receives word that his long-time friend John Laurens has been killed in a seemingly pointless battle after the war was won and throws himself into his work ("The Laurens Interlude/Tomorrow There'll Be More Of Us"). He co-authors The Federalist Papers and is selected as Secretary of the Treasury by newly elected President Washington, amidst Eliza begging Hamilton to stay and Angelica moving to London with her new husband ("Non-Stop").
Act II edit
In 1789, Thomas Jefferson returns to America from being the U.S. ambassador to France, taking up his newfound position as Secretary of State ("What'd I Miss"). Jefferson and Madison debate Hamilton's financial proposals at a Cabinet meeting. Washington tells Hamilton to figure out a compromise to win over Congress ("Cabinet Battle #1"). Eliza and her family—along with Angelica, back from London—travel upstate during the summer, while Hamilton stays home to work on the compromise ("Take a Break"). Hamilton begins an affair with Maria Reynolds, making him vulnerable to her husband's blackmail ("Say No To This"). Hamilton, Jefferson, and James Madison create the Compromise of 1790 over a private dinner, exchanging Hamilton's financial plan for placing the country's permanent capital on the Potomac River. Burr is envious of Hamilton's sway in the government and wishes that he had similar power ("The Room Where It Happens"). Burr switches political parties and defeats Philip Schuyler in a race for the Senate, now making Hamilton a rival ("Schuyler Defeated").
In another Cabinet meeting, Jefferson and Hamilton argue over whether the United States should assist France in its conflict with Britain. President Washington ultimately agrees with Hamilton's argument for remaining neutral ("Cabinet Battle #2"). In the wake of this, Jefferson, Madison, and Burr decide to join forces to find a way to discredit Hamilton ("Washington on Your Side"). Washington retires from the presidency after his second term, and Hamilton assists in writing a farewell address ("One Last Time"). A flabbergasted King George receives word that George Washington has stepped down, and will be replaced by Paris signatory John Adams ("I Know Him"). Adams becomes the second President and fires Hamilton, who, in response, publishes an inflammatory critique of the new president ("The Adams Administration").
Jefferson, Madison, and Burr confront Hamilton about James Reynolds's blackmail, accusing him of "[embezzlement of] government funds" ("We Know"). Desperate to salvage his political career by proving that he was merely lustful and not corrupt, Hamilton reminisces over his life and how writing has changed his life ("Hurricane"), before prophylactically publicizing his affair in the Reynolds Pamphlet, which wrecks his own reputation ("The Reynolds Pamphlet"). It also damages his relationship with Eliza, who, in a heartbroken retaliation, burns all the letters Hamilton wrote her, trying to erase herself from history ("Burn"). After graduating from college, Philip attempts to defend his father's honor in a duel with George Eacker ("Blow Us All Away") but is fatally shot ("Stay Alive (Reprise)"), eventually leading to reconciliation between Alexander and Eliza ("It's Quiet Uptown").
Hamilton's endorsement of Jefferson in the 1800 United States presidential election ("The Election of 1800") results in further animosity between Hamilton and Burr, who challenges Hamilton to a duel via an exchange of letters ("Your Obedient Servant"). Hamilton writes his last letter in a rush while Eliza tells him to go back to bed ("Best of Wives and Best of Women"). Burr reflects on the moments leading up to the duel, while Hamilton reflects on his legacy, before throwing away his shot. Burr fatally shoots Hamilton, and laments that though he survived, he is destined to be remembered as the villain who killed Hamilton ("The World Was Wide Enough"). The musical closes with a reflection on historical memory. Jefferson and Madison reflect on Hamilton's legacy, as Eliza tells how she keeps Hamilton's legacy alive through interviewing war veterans, getting help from Angelica, raising funds for the Washington Monument, speaking out against slavery, and establishing the first private orphanage in New York City ("Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story"). The musical ends with Hamilton shaking Eliza's hand. Eliza then turns towards the audience and lets out a tearful gasp.
- Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr
- Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton
- Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton
- Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler
- Christopher Jackson as George Washington
- Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson
- Anthony Ramos as John Laurens / Philip Hamilton
- Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan / James Madison
- Jonathan Groff as King George III
- Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler / Maria Reynolds
- Sydney James Harcourt as Philip Schuyler / James Reynolds / Doctor / Ensemble
- Thayne Jasperson as Samuel Seabury / Ensemble
- Jon Rua as Charles Lee / Ensemble
- Ephraim Sykes as George Eacker / Ensemble
Musical numbers edit
The film is edited together from three performances of Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in Midtown Manhattan in June 2016 with the original principal Broadway cast members, prior to the departure of Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, and Ariana DeBose from the production, combined with a few "setup shots" recorded without an audience present. These shots included numbers that were captured with the use of a Steadicam, crane and dolly. The footage, shot by RadicalMedia, was originally filmed to be spliced into the 2016 documentary Hamilton's America. The film includes a one-minute intermission.
The film features the majority of the original Broadway cast, minus ensemble members Betsy Struxness and Emmy Raver-Lampman who left in March and April 2016 respectively – their roles are performed by Hope Easterbrook and Elizabeth Judd. Jonathan Groff, who departed the role of King George III in April and was replaced by Rory O'Malley, returned to the production to reprise his role for the film. He also provides, in character, the voice of the pre-show announcer at the beginning of the film, welcoming the audience to the show.
On February 3, 2020, it was announced that Walt Disney Studios had acquired the worldwide distribution rights for the film for $75 million. Disney successfully outbid multiple competitors, including Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Netflix, which had all expressed interest in the film rights. The deal, reportedly one of the most expensive film rights acquisitions, was negotiated between Endeavor Content and Walt Disney Pictures president Sean Bailey and was placed into motion after Disney CEO Bob Iger approached the producers with personal interest in acquiring the film rights. The film is produced by Miranda, Jeffrey Seller, and Kail.
The film was originally scheduled for an October 15, 2021 theatrical wide release by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, but was later moved up to July 3, 2020, on Disney+, as announced by Disney and Miranda on May 12, 2020 in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry and the performing arts, which shut down the Broadway, West End, and touring productions. This move was also done to get the film released in time for the Fourth of July weekend, on the 244th anniversary of the independence of the United States.
Hamilton received a PG-13 rating by the MPA for "language and some suggestive material". Two instances of the expletive "fuck" were censored to avoid an R rating; a third, partially unfinished one used in "Say No to This" is retained, making it the first film released by Walt Disney Pictures to feature the expletive. A fourth expletive, "motherfucker", used in "The Adams Administration" is also kept in, but is intentionally bleeped for comedic effect as part of the show and its cast album.
A behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the film, entitled Hamilton In-Depth with Kelley Carter, premiered on The Undefeated and Disney+ the same day as the film. It features journalist Kelley L. Carter hosting a roundtable discussion with Thomas Kail and members of the cast about the musical's origins, its significance in pop culture, and how its story and portrayal of historical events resonate with the modern-day discussions about social injustice and systemic racism.
Audience viewership edit
On the weekend of the film's release, the Disney+ app was downloaded 266,084 times, a 72% increase from the past four weeks' total. TV analytics provider, Samba TV reported that 2.7 million U.S. households streamed the film in its first 10 days on Disney+. In August 2020, it was reported that a "staggering" 37.1% of subscribers (about 22 million) had watched the film over its first month (by comparison, the second-largest viewership portion on a platform was Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries with 13.7%). In November, Variety reported the film was the most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point. In December, research firm Screen Engine reported that Hamilton was the second-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 behind HBO Max's Wonder Woman 1984.
Critical response edit
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Hamilton holds an approval rating of 98% based on 202 reviews, with an average rating of 9.1/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Look around, look around at how beautifully Hamilton shines beyond Broadway – and at how marvelously Thomas Kail captures the stage show's infectious energy." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 89 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Peter Debruge, in his review for Variety, wrote: "For those fortunate enough to see Hamilton on stage, this will be a welcome reminder of being among the first to witness such a revolutionary piece of American theater. And if you couldn't get tickets at the time (some of which fetched more than the value of Cares Act stimulus payments), this 2 1/2-hour release represents an incredible equalizing moment". Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote "For those of us who have never seen the stage show, and have compensated by spending many happy hours with the soundtrack, it's a particular pleasure to be figuratively ushered into the live Richard Rodgers Theater audience, whose applause you often hear and whose presence you sometimes glimpse in passing. Unaltered from that initial staging, apart from some seamless editing (by Jonah Moran) and the silencing of a few family-unfriendly expletives, this filmed Hamilton is somehow both a four-year-old time capsule and a timely encounter with the present."
Rafer Guzmán of Newsday gave the film 3 stars out of 4, writing "Directed with a steady hand by Thomas Kail, Hamilton doesn't quite capture the electricity of a live performance, though mid-song laughs and cheers can occasionally be heard from the audience (there's also a one-minute intermission). Hamilton will surely return when Broadway does, but for now this document will serve nicely in its stead." David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a grade of A− and said: "This is Hamilton as you always wanted to see it, and it always will be. And with Disney+ releasing it just in time for the Fourth of July, it doubles as a perfect reminder that America is only worth celebrating because of what it aspires to be — the version of it we see in our minds' eye, and not the one that's petrified on the pages of our history books."
David Rooney, in his review for The Hollywood Reporter, praised Kail's directing by writing "The art of the filmed performance has evolved considerably since the days when a camera or two were plonked down at the rim of the stage and the show unfolded as a static theatrical facsimile. Since staging Hamilton, director Thomas Kail has been sharpening his skills on television work like Grease Live! — still by far the best of the recent spate of live TV musicals — and Fosse/Verdon, a striking hybrid of theatrical performance and conventional narrative."
A. O. Scott of The New York Times named the film a "Critic's Pick", praising the timeliness of its release stating "One lesson that the past few years should have taught — or reconfirmed — is that there aren’t any good old days. [...] This four-year-old performance of 'Hamilton,' viewed without nostalgia, feels more vital, more challenging than ever."
Following its release and acclaim, there was speculation on whether Hamilton would be eligible for Academy Awards consideration. Major publications pointed to previous instances of Academy Award-nominated films featuring stage recordings, such as Othello (1965) and Give ‘em Hell, Harry (1975), suggesting the possibility of recognition for Hamilton. However, on July 6, 2020, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences disqualified Hamilton for the 93rd Academy Awards, citing a rule implemented in 1997 that "Recorded stage productions are not eligible for consideration." Disney included Hamilton in its awards consideration campaign and reportedly submitted the film to every organization and award guild, regardless of apparent eligibility. Unlike the Academy, other major organizations that present film awards—such as the Golden Globe Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards—have no specific restrictions against filmed theater, and thus recognized the film.
|2020||People's Choice Awards||The Movie of 2020||Hamilton||Nominated|||
|The Drama Movie of 2020||Won|
|The Drama Movie Star of 2020||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|2021||American Cinema Editors Awards||Best Edited Limited Series or Motion Picture for Television||Jonah Moran||Nominated|||
|American Film Institute Awards||AFI Special Award||Hamilton||Won|||
|Cinema Audio Society Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Non Fiction, Variety or Music – Series or Specials||Justin Rathbun, Tony Volante, Rob Fernandez and Tim Latham||Won|||
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Excellence in Variety, Reality-Competition, Live Television||Paul Tazewell||Won|||
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Television Movie||Hamilton||Won|||
|Directors Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Limited Series||Thomas Kail||Nominated|||
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||Hamilton||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Nominated|
|Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards||Best Streaming Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Live-Action Television Movie||Hamilton||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Television Movie||Leslie Odom Jr.||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Television Movie||Daveed Diggs||Nominated|
|Golden Reel Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Single Presentation||Tony Volante, Dave Paterson, Nevin Steinberg, Dan Timmons and Derik Lee||Nominated|||
|Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards||Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling in a Television Special, One Hour or More Live Program Series or Movie for Television||Frederick Waggoner||Won|||
|NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||Hamilton||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||Daveed Diggs||Nominated|
|Leslie Odom Jr.||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie||Hamilton||Nominated|||
|Favorite Movie Actor||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)||Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller||Won|||
|Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Nominated|
|Leslie Odom Jr.||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie||Daveed Diggs||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress In a Supporting Role in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie||Renée Elise Goldsberry||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie||Thomas Kail||Nominated|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming||Jonah Moran||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special||Tony Volante, Tim Latham and Justin Rathbun||Nominated|
|Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Special||Pat Capone, Jack Donnelly, Bruce MacCallum, Bill Winters, Maceo Bishop, Abby Levine and Joe Belack||Won|
|Producers Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Producer of Streamed or Televised Motion Pictures||Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller||Won|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical||Hamilton||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Nominated|
|Leslie Odom Jr.||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series||Daveed Diggs||Nominated|||
See also edit
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- Credited to full company on the original Broadway cast recording.
- "Tomorrow There'll Be More of Us", a second reprise to "The Story of Tonight", does not appear on the original Broadway cast recording. Miranda explained that it was "more of a scene than a song, the only scene in the [sung-through] show", and he wanted to reserve the impact of "at least one revelation" that could be experienced more fully onstage.
- Previously titled "One Last Ride" in the Off-Broadway production.
- "The Reynolds Pamphlet" The song contains a small part of the song "Congratulations" (Off-Broadway).