Great Expectations (2012 film)

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Great Expectations
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Newell
Screenplay by David Nicholls
Based on Great Expectations
1861 novel
by Charles Dickens
Produced byDavid Faigenblum
Elizabeth Karlsen
Emanuel Michael
Stephen Woolley
Starring Jeremy Irvine
Robbie Coltrane
Holliday Grainger
Helena Bonham Carter
Ralph Fiennes
Cinematography John Mathieson
Edited by Tariq Anwar
Music by Richard Hartley
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
  • 11 September 2012 (2012-09-11)(Toronto)
  • 30 November 2012 (2012-11-30)(United Kingdom)
Running time
128 minutes [1]
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Box office$6.2 million [2]

Great Expectations is a 2012 British-American film adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1861 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Mike Newell, with the adapted screenplay by David Nicholls, and stars Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Holliday Grainger, Ralph Fiennes and Robbie Coltrane. It was distributed by Lionsgate.


Nicholls adapted the screenplay after being asked to work on it by producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, with whom he had worked on And When Did You Last See Your Father? . Helena Bonham Carter was asked by Newell to appear as Miss Havisham and accepted the role after some initial apprehension, while Irvine was initially intimidated by the thought of appearing on screen as Pip.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was released in the UK on 30 November 2012.



Holliday Grainger at the preview of Great Expectations at the Toronto Film Festival Holliday Grainger at the premiere of Great Expectations, Toronto Film Festival 2012.jpg
Holliday Grainger at the preview of Great Expectations at the Toronto Film Festival



The film is the seventh film version of Charles Dickens' novel. [3] David Nicholls was asked to develop the screenplay after he had worked on the 2007 film And When Did You Last See Your Father? , and while he was working on an adaptation for television of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles for the BBC. He had worked with producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley on the 2007 film, and they approached him to work on Great Expectations. During the development of the film, Nicholls published the novel One Day , which was subsequently adapted into a film in 2011. Nicholls described in interviews that he saw Dickens' work as his childhood defining novel, having first read the book when he was 14 and it having since remained his favourite. He also praised the 1946 version, directed by David Lean. [15]

Mike Newell was looking to develop Dickens' Dombey and Son for the screen, but after it didn't go ahead, he was told about Nicholls' script. The two worked together on further developing the screenplay and finding the funding for the film. [3] Nicholls thought there was a problem with choosing the ending for the film, as Dickens wrote both a downbeat ending and a more positive version. He described their solution as, "What we've tried to do is to make it work as a love story without sentimentalising the book", [3] having criticised the ending of the David Lean version. [12]


The former headquarters of Gillette on the A4 road was used as the main filming location. The interior was transformed into a Victorian era street scene. [3]

The production also shot many scenes in Kent including St Thomas a Becket Church in Fairfield, Swale Nature Reserve Shellness, Oare and Elmley Marshes, Stangate Creek, The Historic Dockyard in Chatham and Thames and Medway Canal. [16]


The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2012. [17] The European premiere was the closing night gala of the 2012 BFI London Film Festival which took place at the Odeon Leicester Square on 21 October 2012. [18] Both Helena Bonham Carter and her husband, Tim Burton, were inducted into the British Film Institute Fellowship at the event. [4] In the UK, advance screenings were scheduled for 26 November 2012, with the nationwide release date of 30 November as a 12A rated release. [19]


Great Expectations received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 68%, based on 81 reviews, with an average rating of 6.20/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Not the best version of the oft-filmed Dickens classic but far from the worst, Mike Newell's Great Expectations breathes just enough life into the source material to justify yet another adaptation." [20] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 60 out of 100, based on 23 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [21]

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