The Circle (2017 film)

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The Circle
The Circle (2017 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Ponsoldt
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on The Circle
by Dave Eggers
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Matthew Libatique
Edited by Lisa Lassek
Distributed by
Release date
  • April 26, 2017 (2017-04-26) (Tribeca)
  • April 28, 2017 (2017-04-28) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18 million[2]
Box office $26.6 million[2]

The Circle is a 2017 American techno-thriller film directed by James Ponsoldt and written by Ponsoldt and Dave Eggers, based on Eggers' 2013 novel of the same name. The film stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly, and Bill Paxton, in his final film role, following his death in February 2017.

The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, 2017, and was theatrically released on April 28, 2017, by STX Entertainment and EuropaCorp. The film received generally negative reviews from critics and has grossed $26.9 million worldwide.


Mae Holland is an ordinary and unaccomplished young woman with an ill father. Through an influential college friend, she gets a customer relations job at powerful internet corporation The Circle, co-founded by Eamon Bailey and Tom Stenton. Mae quickly rises through company's ranks, and is selected for an assignment with the Circle's newest technology which she eagerly takes on. Soon she finds herself in a perilous situation concerning privacy, surveillance, and freedom. Mae comes to learn that her decisions and actions will determine the future of humanity.



Casting and financing[edit]

On December 15, 2014, Deadline reported that Tom Hanks would star in a film adaptation of Dave Eggers' 2013 novel The Circle, with James Ponsoldt writing and directing.[8] In January 2015, THR confirmed that Anthony Bregman would produce the film through his banner, Likely Story, along with Ponsoldt, Hanks, and Gary Goetzman.[8][9] On May 11, 2015, it was announced that Image Nation Abu Dhabi would fully finance the film, together with Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, while IM Global would handle international sales.[10] IM GLOBAL later sold the rights to various distributors.[11] On May 23, 2015, Deadline revealed that producers had offered Emma Watson the female lead role in the film. In June 2015, director Ponsoldt confirmed that Watson was not officially on board, but that she is one possibility to star in the film. On June 24, 2015, Variety confirmed that Watson was officially set to play the lead role of Mae Holland in the film.[3][12] On August 19, 2015, John Boyega was added to the cast, and on September 1, 2015, Karen Gillan was cast to play Annie, a warm and intelligent member of The Circle.[5] On September 11, 2015, Patton Oswalt joined the cast to play Tom Stenton, one of three founders of the Circle,[6] and on September 16, 2015, Bill Paxton joined the film as Watson's character's father.[7][13] On September 29, 2015, Ellar Coltrane joined the film, playing the character Mercer.[14]


Principal photography on the film began on September 11, 2015, in Los Angeles, California.[12][15][16] On September 17, filming was taking place in Pasadena.[17] Reshoots were done in January 2017.[18]


In February 2016, EuropaCorp acquired U.S and Canadian distribution rights to the film,[19] while STX Entertainment co-distributes.[20] The Circle premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, 2017[21] and was released on April 28, 2017.[22]

Box office[edit]

As of May 14, 2017, The Circle has grossed $18.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $2.9 million in other territories, for a total of $21.8 million, against a production budget of $18 million.[2]

In North America, The Circle was released alongside How to Be a Latin Lover, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion and Sleight, and was projected to gross $10–12 million from 3,163 theaters during its opening weekend.[23] However, the film underperformed, debuting at number five with $9 million, behind The Fate of the Furious, How to Be a Latin Lover, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion and The Boss Baby.[24]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 15% based on 91 reviews, with an average rating of 4.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Circle assembles an impressive cast, but this digitally driven thriller spins aimlessly in its half-hearted exploration of timely themes."[25] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 43 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[26] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "D+" on an A+ to F scale.[27]

Glenn Kenny of The New York Times criticized the film for its repetitiveness and lack of originality: "The novel is at its most trenchantly funny when depicting the exhausting nature of virtual social life, and it’s in this area, too, that the movie gets its very few knowing laughs. But it’s plain, not much more than 15 minutes in, that without the story’s paranoid aspects you’re left with a conceptual framework that’s been lapped three times over by the likes of, say, the Joshua Cohen novel Book of Numbers or the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley".[28] Dan Callahan of The Wrap wrote: "The main problem with The Circle is that the evil of the tech company is made so obvious right from the start."[29] He was also critical of the film's performances, writing that Hanks and Oswalt "seem to have trouble taking their villainous roles seriously," while "Watson is unable to make the various changes that happen to Mae convincing." Eric Kohn of IndieWire awarded the film a C. He was especially critical of the film's tonal inconsistencies: "Recent years have seen a proliferation of deep-dive narratives on the information age, from the psychological thriller territory of Mr. Robot to the parodic extremes of Silicon Valley. Ponsoldt’s project is stuck in between those two extremes. On the one hand, it’s an Orwellian drama about surveillance society; at the same time, it’s a sincere workplace drama about young adulthood that shoehorns in some techno-babble for the sake of deepening its potential."[30]

Gregory Wakeman of Cinema Blend panned the film, arguing that "the movie's grand philosophical debate is so simplistic and comes from two opposing and extreme sides of the spectrum that it's basically rendered mute."[31] He also wrote: "Smug, condescending, and completely without incident, The Circle is the reason why people hate Hollywood." Wakeman gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of five. Likewise, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film one star out of four. He wrote: "The Circle feels dull, dated and ripped from yesterday's headlines. It flatlines while you're watching it."[32]

Some critics enjoyed the film. John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter, in his positive review, wrote: "The film's final message isn't as difficult to grapple with as the world we're actually living in, but that doesn't make it easy." He also described the film as "a mainstream-friendly critique of social media."[33] Owen Gleiberman of Variety was positive as well. He directed much of his praise towards the film's contemporary relevance: "You could call The Circle a dystopian thriller, yet it’s not the usual boilerplate sci-fi about grimly abstract oppressors lording it over everyone else. The movie is smarter and creepier than that; it’s a cautionary tale for the age of social-media witch hunts and compulsive oversharing. The fascist digital future the movie imagines is darkly intriguing to contemplate, because one’s main thought about it is how much of that future is already here."[34] Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle also praised the film's timeliness: "What makes The Circle so valuable is not only that it’s showing us a ghastly possible path that the world may take, but that it articulates the mentality that could create and sustain it."[35]


  1. ^ "The Circle". Tribeca Film Festival. Retrieved March 17, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Circle (2017)". The Numbers. Retrieved May 21, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b McNary, Dave (June 24, 2015). "Emma Watson Joins Tom Hanks in Thriller 'The Circle'". Retrieved June 25, 2015. 
  4. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (August 18, 2015). "'Star Wars' John Boyega Lands Lead In James Ponsoldt's 'The Circle'". Retrieved August 19, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Hipes, Patrick (September 1, 2015). "Karen Gillan Completes 'Circle', Lands Final Lead In James Ponsoldt Pic". Retrieved September 2, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Hipes, Patrick (September 11, 2015). "Patton Oswalt Joins James Ponsoldt's 'The Circle'". Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (September 16, 2015). "Bill Paxton Joins Tom Hanks in 'The Circle' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved September 20, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Fleming Jr, Mike (December 15, 2014). "Tom Hanks Eyes David Eggers' Novel 'The Circle' With James Ponsoldt: Hot Package". Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  9. ^ Siegel, Tatiana; McClintock, Pamela (May 11, 2015). "Cannes: 'Ex Machina's' Alicia Vikander to Star in James Ponsoldt's 'The Circle' (Exclusive)". Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (May 11, 2015). "Cannes: Tom Hanks Thriller 'The Circle' Gets Financing from Image Nation". Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  11. ^ Otterson, Joe (May 20, 2015). "Cannes: Tom Hanks' 'The Circle' Sold Worldwide to Independent Territories by IM Global". Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b NEMIROFF, PERRI (June 18, 2015). "THE CIRCLE: James Ponsoldt Updates on Emma Watson's Involvement; Confirms Fall Start". Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Actor Bill Paxton died on Saturday. He was 61.". Retrieved February 26, 2017. 
  14. ^ Kit, Borys (September 29, 2015). "'Boyhood' Star Joins Emma Watson, Tom Hanks in 'The Circle' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 29, 2015. 
  15. ^ "On the Set for 9/11/15: Matt Damon Starts on Jason Bourne Sequel, Shailene Woodley Wraps Divergent Series: Allegiant". September 11, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Emma Watson cuts a demure figure in knitted sweater and chinos as she gets to work on her new movie The Circle". September 12, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Filming Locations for 'The Circle', starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks & Patton Oswalt". September 17, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2015. 
  18. ^ "STX Lands Luc Besson's 'Valerian' And Other EuropaCorp Titles In 3-Year Pact; RED Hit With Massive Layoffs". January 3, 2017. Retrieved January 3, 2017. 
  19. ^ Lang, Brent (February 9, 2016). "EuropaCorp Buys Domestic Rights to 'The Circle' With Emma Watson, Tom Hanks". Retrieved February 9, 2016. 
  20. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike; Busch, Anita (January 3, 2017). "STX Lands Luc Besson's 'Valerian' And Other EuropaCorp Titles In 3-Year Pact; RED Hit With Massive Layoffs". Retrieved January 3, 2017. 
  21. ^ Cox, Gordon (March 8, 2017). "Emma Watson and Tom Hanks' 'The Circle' to Premiere at 2017 Tribeca Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved March 8, 2017. 
  22. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 7, 2016). "Tom Hanks & Emma Watson Thriller 'The Circle' Sets Spring 2017 Release". Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  23. ^ "'The Circle' likely no match for 'Fate' at the box office". Los Angeles Times. 
  24. ^ "Box Office: 'Fate of the Furious' Wins; 'How to Be a Latin Lover,' 'Baahubali 2' Beat 'The Circle'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 30, 2017. 
  25. ^ "The Circle (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 20, 2017. 
  26. ^ "The Circle Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 4, 2017. 
  27. ^ CinemaScore. "Cinema Score". Retrieved April 29, 2017. 
  28. ^ Kenny, Glenn (April 27, 2017). "Review: In 'The Circle,' Click Here if You Think You're Being Watched". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  29. ^ Callahan, Dan (April 26, 2017). "'The Circle' Review: Tom Hanks Runs Social Media Cult in Implausible Thriller". The Wrap. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  30. ^ Kohn, Eric (April 27, 2017). "'The Circle' Review: Tom Hanks and Emma Watson Star In a Misguided Story of Technology Gone Wrong — Tribeca 2017". IndieWire. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  31. ^ Wakeman, Gregory (April 27, 2017). "THE CIRCLE REVIEW". Cinema Blend. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  32. ^ Travers, Peter (April 28, 2017). "'The Circle' Review: Torn-From-Headlines Tech Thriller Is Cinematic Dead Link". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  33. ^ DeFore, John (April 26, 2017). "'The Circle': Film Review - Tribeca 2017". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  34. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (April 26, 2017). "Tribeca Film Review: Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in 'The Circle'". The Wrap. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  35. ^ LaSalle, Mick (April 26, 2017). "'The Circle' a tale of technology run amok". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 

External links[edit]