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Is Anyone But You (2023) a Shakespeare Remake?

All you need to know about how Shakespeare’s work has influenced the romantic comedy, alongside other films.

Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney star in Anyone But You. Image: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Anyone But You (2023), the new hit rom-com released to cinemas in the UK on the 26th of December.

The film explores the love-hate relationship between characters Ben and Bea as they travel to her sister’s wedding in Sydney. Starring Top Gun: Maverick’s Glen Powell (Ben) and Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney (Bea).

Anticipation for the film rose after rumors circulated that Powell and Sweeney were reportedly having an affair off-screen when filming. The pair have both maintained that these rumors are false and that nothing romantic happened between them.

These rumors drove most of the marketing of the film and are likely all you have heard about it. A lot has gone unsaid about the film being completely inspired by a Shakespeare play, so here are all the details.

Sydney Sweeney in Anyone But You. Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Inspirations from Shakespeare

The plot is based on the play Much Ado About Nothing. The play is based on a love-hate relationship between the characters Beatrice and Benedict.

Set in Messina, Italy, the play navigates the misunderstanding between Beatrice and Benedict on their relationship status. Just like in the film, the meddling of other characters pushes the two together during the wedding of Claudio and Hero (Claudia and Halle in the film).

The film is not only inspired by the character’s names and narrative but also pays homage to the play through some particular lines.

The character Pete, at one point, utters the line: “Some cupids kill with arrows and some with traps.” Halle also says in her wedding vows: “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.”

Both the lines finish with the characters stating: “I just made that up.” Poking fun at the inspiration of the lines to all the Shakespeare know-it-alls.

Scriptwriter, Ilana Wolpert, involved in writing the film, has described Much Ado About Nothing as ‘the perfect-enemies-to lovers’ story, which caused her to use it as inspiration for writing the film.

Ilana, who had studied the work of Shakespeare while doing her PhD in English, decided her future was in screenwriting after taking a class in college. The profession allows her to use her knowledge of literature to combine this into films.

Anyone But You is reflective of this, and her love for the rom-com genre shines through. This is evident in the many references across the film.

The cheese toastie scene, which may have seemed unimportant, is a nod to The Devil Wears Prada, where the character Nate burns his cheese toastie. Then, of course, there’s the recreation scene of Titanic, which causes Ben and Bea to end up overboard.

Ilana also describes in an interview with Vanity Fair that for the wedding scene, she drew on influences from Mamma Mia! and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Five other rom-coms that draw on Shakespeare’s work

Anyone But You is not the only rom-com to draw on inspiration from plays and literature. The genre quite commonly re-purposes stories and draws on many references from other works.

Shakespeare’s work has been used to inspire a range of films; here are some examples:

1. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Scene from film 10 Things I Hate About You. Credit: BuenasVista Pictures Distribution.

This classic example is inspired by Shakespeare’s play The Taming Of The Shrew. The movie’s plot draws on the narrative of the play where the youngest sister is unable to marry until her older sister has first.

2. She’s The Man (2006)

Amanda Bynes in She’s The Man. Credit: Paramount Pictures.

This film is inspired by Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. The film repurposes the names from the play Viola, Sebastian and Cesario.

Additionally, the plots are also similar, in the film, Viola disguises herself as her brother to beat her school football team. Whereas in the play Viola pretends to be someone else to cause trouble.

3. Get Over It (2001)

Kirsten Dunst in Get Over It. Credit: Miramax

Get Over It is adapted from the narrative of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The character Berke joins his ex-girlfriend’s play to try and get her back.

4. John Tucker Must Die (2006)

Scene from John Tucker Must Die. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Based on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives Of Windsor. The play is based on the character Sir John Falstaff, who attempts to woo rich nobles, who in turn play pranks on him as revenge. The film’s plot, however, is based on another John whose exes plot revenge by setting him up with the character Kate.

5. Valley Girl (1983)

Scene from Valley Girl. Credit: MGM Productions.

The film is based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, where two star-crossed lovers from different backgrounds fall in love. Unlike the play, however, they don’t die.

Anyone But You Box Office Success

Scene from Anyone But You. Credit: Sony Pictures

The film was initially predicted only to reach $25 million in the US. It started with no production company and was looked at by Netflix and Amazon before eventually being picked up by Sony.

Despite opinions, the film has been super successful so far. The Business Times reported that the film has currently grossed $60 million internationally and is expected to continue to cross over the $100 million mark.

It proves that there is still a thriving market for romantic comedies despite the film almost not making it into the cinemas.

Hit 00’s song ‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield also earned 1.3 million streams in the film’s opening week. The song plays an important part in the narrative as Ben’s ‘serenity song.’

It continues to make many appearances throughout the film and also structures the film’s end-credit scene. Leaving viewers undoubtedly coming out of screenings with the song stuck in their heads.

The soundtrack also features tracks from Troye Sivan, Mac Miller and Wet Leg.

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