The Hate U Give is a 2018 American drama film directed by George Tillman Jr. and written by Audrey Wells. It is based on Angie Thomas’ 2017 novel of same name. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Algee Smith, Lamar Johnson, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, and Anthony Mackie, and follows the fallout after a high school student witnesses a police shooting.
The Hate U Give premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2018 and was released in the United States on October 5, 2018.The film has grossed $25 million and was acclaimed by critics, with many praising Stenberg’s performance.
Starr Carter is a 16-year-old black girl who lives in the fictional, mostly poor black neighborhood of Garden Heights, but attends an affluent, predominantly white private school, Williamson Prep. After a gun goes off at a party Starr is attending one weekend, Starr is driven home by her childhood best friend, Khalil. On the way home, they are stopped by a white police officer. The officer has Khalil, who is black, exit the car; while outside the car, Khalil re-opens the driver-side door to check in on Starr. The officer fires three shots into Khalil, killing him.
Khalil’s death becomes a major national news story. Starr’s identity as the witness is initially kept secret from just about everyone outside Starr’s family – leaving Starr’s two best friends, Hailey Grant and Maya Yang, and Starr’s white boyfriend, Chris, who all attend Williamson Prep together, all unaware of Starr’s connection to the news story. Having to keep this secret weighs on Starr, as does her need to keep her Williamson and Garden Heights personas separate.
Starr agrees to be interviewed on television and to testify in front of a grand jury after being encouraged by a civil rights lawyer. While defending Khalil’s character during her interview on television, in which her identity is hidden, she names the King Lords, the gang that controls her neighborhood. The gang retaliates by threatening Starr and her family, forcing them to move in with her Uncle Carlos, who is also a detective. Carlos was a father figure to Starr when her father, Maverick, spent three years in prison for gang activity. Following his release, Maverick leaves the gang and becomes owner of the Garden Heights grocery store where Starr and her half-brother Seven work. Maverick was only allowed to leave his gang, the King Lords, because he admitted to a crime even though he was innocent; this kept gang leader King from being locked up. King, widely feared in the neighborhood, now lives with Seven’s mother and Seven’s half-sister Kenya, who is friends with Starr.
After a grand jury fails to indict the white officer, Garden Heights erupts into both peaceful protests and riots. The failure of the criminal justice system to hold the officer accountable pushes Starr to take an increasingly public role, including speaking out during the protests, which are met by police in riot gear. Her increasing identification with the people of Garden Heights causes tension with Starr’s school friends and especially with her boyfriend Chris. Starr and Maya eventually start standing up to Hailey’s racist comments and Chris remains supportive of Starr.
Starr and Seven get trapped in Maverick’s grocery store which is fire bombed by King and his gang. The two escape thanks to help of Maverick and some other Garden Heights business owners. When the police arrive on the scene, Starr’s younger brother Sekani points a gun at King. Starr defuses the situation. Starr eventually promises to keep Khalil’s memory alive and to continue her advocacy against injustice.
Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter
Regina Hall as Lisa Carter, Starr’s mother
Russell Hornsby as Maverick Carter, Starr’s father
KJ Apa as Chris, Starr’s boyfriend
Algee Smith as Khalil Harris, Starr’s childhood best friend
Lamar Johnson as Seven Carter, Starr’s older half-brother
Issa Rae as April Ofrah, an activist that helps Starr find her voice and speak up
Sabrina Carpenter as Hailey, one of Starr’s friends from her prep school.
Common as Uncle Carlos, Lisa’s brother, Starr’s uncle and a police officer
Anthony Mackie as King, a local drug dealer, Kenya’s father
TJ Wright as Sekani Carter, Starr’s younger brother
Dominique Fishback as Kenya, Seven’s half-sister
Megan Lawless as Maya, one of Starr’s friends from her prep school.
Tony Vaughn as Mr. Lewis, a shop owner in Starr’s neighborhood. His shop is next to Maverick’s.
On March 23, 2017, it was announced that Amandla Stenberg would star as Starr Carter in the film based on the novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which George Tillman Jr. would direct from a screenplay by Audrey Wells, while producers would be Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey through State Street Pictures and Temple Hill Entertainment.On August 1, 2017, Russell Hornsby and Lamar Johnson were cast in the film to play Maverick Carter, Starr’s dad, and Seven Carter, Starr’s brother, respectively. On August 3, Regina Hall was cast in the film to play Lisa Carter, Starr’s mom, and on August 15, Algee Smith joined the film to play Khalil, Starr’s childhood best friend. On August 22, it was reported that Common had joined the cast to play Starr’s uncle as a police officer.
On August 23, 2017, Issa Rae was cast in the film to play April, the social activist who encourages Starr to speak out publicly. On August 24 Sabrina Carpenter joined the film to play Hailey, one of Starr’s friends from her high school.On September 12, Anthony Mackie and Kian Lawley joined the film to play the local drug dealer King, and Starr’s boyfriend, Chris, respectively.
Principal photography on the film began on September 12, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.
On February 5, 2018, it was announced that Kian Lawley had been fired from the film due to a resurfaced video showing Lawley using racially offensive slurs, resulting in his role to be recast and scenes reshot.On April 3, 2018, it was announced that KJ Apa had been cast to replace Lawley.
The Hate U Give began a limited release in the United States on October 5, 2018, before a scheduled expansion the following week and going wide on October 19. It was previously scheduled to simply be released on the 19th.
The day prior to the film’s release, screenwriter Audrey Wells died from cancer at the age of 58. 20th Century Fox released a statement saying: “We are simply heartbroken. Audrey’s was a voice of empowerment and courage, and her words will live on through the strong, determined female characters she brought to life. Our thoughts are with Brian, Tatiana, and all of Audrey’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
As of November 4, 2018, The Hate U Give has grossed $23.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $2.1 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $25.6 million, against a production budget of $23 million.
In its limited opening weekend, The Hate U Give made $512,035 from 36 theaters, an average of $14,233 per venue, finishing 13th. Playing in a total of 248 theaters the following weekend, the film made $1.8 million, finishing ninth. The film was projected to gross $7–9 million when it expanded to 2,303 theaters on October 19. It made $2.5 million on its first day of wide release, including $300,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to gross $7.5 million over the weekend, finishing sixth at the box office. It fell 33% to $5.1 million the following weekend, remaining in sixth.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 96% based on 169 reviews, and an average rating of 8.2/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Led by a breakout turn from Amandla Stenberg, the hard-hitting The Hate U Give emphatically proves the YA genre has room for much more than magic and romance.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A+” on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 88% positive score and a 74% “definite recommend”.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film four out of five stars, calling it an “exceptional adaptation” and wrote, “It is impossible to over-praise Stenberg’s incandescent performance, a gathering storm that grows in ferocity and feeling with each scene. Stenberg nails every nuance of a role that keeps throwing challenges at her, none more devastating than when it becomes impossible for Starr to remain stuck in neutral.”Keith Watson of Slant Magazine gave the film two out of four stars, writing “Given its intensely relevant subject matter, the film can’t help but churn up a lot of raw emotions—and the allusions to Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and Emmett Till are reminders of the real-life sorrow that birthed this film—but Tillman’s anonymous direction is content merely to illustrate the screenplay without ever bringing it to life. Even scenes that are meant to be tinged with menace and danger—run-ins with a local gang, a shooting at a party—feel about as raw as an episode of Degrassi.”Scott Mendelson, writing for Forbes, wrote that the film deserved to be an Oscars frontrunner in several categories for the screenplay, Stenberg and Russell Hornsby’s performances and the picture itself, saying it “belongs among the final list of would-be Best Picture nominees.”