Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin McDonagh
Produced by
Written by Martin McDonagh
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Ben Davis
Edited by Jon Gregory
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • September 4, 2017 (2017-09-04) (Venice)
  • November 10, 2017 (2017-11-10) (United States)
  • January 12, 2018 (2018-01-12) (United Kingdom)
Running time
115 minutes[2]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Language English
Budget $12 million[3]
Box office $41.8 million[4]

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a 2017 crime film[5] written, produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh. It stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage. McDormand plays a mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter's unsolved murder, polarizing the community.

The film premiered in the main competition of the 74th Venice International Film Festival on September 4, 2017.[6] It also played at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival,[7] where it won its top prize, the People's Choice Award.[8] It was also screened at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival.[9]

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was released in the United States on November 10, 2017, and in the United Kingdom on January 12, 2018 by Fox Searchlight Pictures.[10] The film was praised for McDonagh's screenplay and direction, as well as the performances, particularly those of McDormand, Harrelson, and Rockwell. It was named as one of the top 10 films of the year by the American Film Institute.[11] At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, the film won the awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress – Drama (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell), and Best Screenplay, while also receiving nominations for Best Director and Best Original Score.[12] At the 71st British Academy Film Awards, the film received nine nominations, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actress in a Leading Role (McDormand), as well as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for both Rockwell and Harrelson.[13]


Mildred Hayes is grieving the rape and murder of her teenage daughter Angela seven months prior. Angry over the lack of progress in the investigation, she rents three abandoned billboards near her home, which in sequence read "RAPED WHILE DYING", "AND STILL NO ARRESTS?", and "HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?" The billboards upset the townspeople, including Sheriff Bill Willoughby and officer Jason Dixon. The open secret that Willoughby suffers from terminal pancreatic cancer adds to their disapproval. Mildred and her depressed son Robbie are harassed and threatened, but she stays firm, to Robbie's chagrin.

While Willoughby is sympathetic to Mildred's frustration, he finds the billboards an unfair attack on his character. Angered by Mildred's lack of respect for his authority, Dixon threatens Red, who rented her the billboards, and arrests her friend and coworker, Denise, on trivial marijuana-possession charges. Mildred is also visited by her abusive ex-husband Charlie, who blames her for their daughter's death.

Willoughby brings Mildred in for questioning after she injures her dentist in an altercation in his clinic. During the interview, Willoughby coughs up blood. He leaves the hospital against medical advice and spends an idyllic day with his wife Anne and daughters, before committing suicide. He leaves suicide notes for several people, including one to Mildred, in which he explains that she was not a factor in his suicide, and that he secretly paid to keep the billboards up for another month, amused at the trouble this will bring her. Mildred is threatened by a stranger in her store. Dixon reacts to the news of Willoughby's death by assaulting Red and his assistant. This is witnessed by Willoughby's replacement, Abercrombie, who fires him.

The billboards are destroyed by arson. Mildred retaliates by tossing Molotov cocktails at the police station, which she believes is unoccupied for the night. However, Dixon is there to read a letter left for him by Willoughby, advising him to let go of hate and learn to love as the only way to realize his wish to become a detective. Dixon escapes with Angela's case files, suffering severe burns. Mildred's acquaintance James witnesses the incident and provides Mildred with an alibi, claiming they were on a date.

Discharged from the hospital, Dixon overhears the man who threatened Mildred bragging in a bar of an incident similar to Angela's murder. He notes the Idaho license plate number of the man's vehicle, then provokes a fight. At home, he removes a sample of the man's DNA. Meanwhile, Mildred goes on a date to thank James for the alibi; Charlie enters with his 19-year old girlfriend Penelope, and admits to burning the billboards. Mildred instructs Charlie to treat Penelope well and leaves.

Abercrombie informs Dixon that the DNA sample does not match DNA found on Angela's body, and that the man was overseas on military duty at the time of the murder. Mildred and Dixon conclude that the man must be guilty of some other rape, and set out for Idaho with a gun. On the way, Mildred confesses to him the police station fire; he replies without surprise. They express reservations about their mission, but agree to decide what to do on the way.



McDonagh was inspired to write the movie after seeing billboards about an unsolved crime while traveling "somewhere down in the Georgia, Florida, Alabama corner".[14] Of the event that inspired the film, McDonagh stated "the rage that put a bunch of billboards like that up was palpable and stayed with me".[15] Eventually he was inspired to create a fictional scenario around such a situation, noting, "Once I decided, in my head, that it was a mother, everything fell into place."[15]

The character of Mildred was written with Frances McDormand in mind.[16] McDormand initially wanted the character to be a grandmother which McDonagh disagreed with, feeling that it would change the story too much.[16][17] Eventually McDormand's husband Joel Coen convinced her to take the part regardless.[16] McDormand took inspiration for her character from John Wayne. This eventually inspired Sam Rockwell to take inspiration for his character in part from Wayne's co-star in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Lee Marvin, noting that he wanted to make his character "the exact opposite" of Mildred.[16] As with Mildred being written for McDormand, the character of Dixon was specifically written for Rockwell.[16]

Principal photography began on May 2, 2016, in Sylva, North Carolina.[18] Filming lasted 33 days.[19]


The score is provided by Carter Burwell, who also supplied the score to Martin McDonagh's other films In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. As well as Burwell's score it features songs by Joan Baez, Monsters of Folk, Townes Van Zandt, and the Four Tops


Fox Searchlight Pictures released Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on November 10, 2017. The film had screenings at the 74th Venice International Film Festival,[6] the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival,[7] the 2017 San Sebastián International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award,[20] the BFI London Film Festival,[21] and the 2017 Zurich Film Festival.[22]

Box office

As of January 14, 2018, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has grossed $28.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $10.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $38.6 million.[4]

In its limited opening weekend, the film made $322,168 from four theaters for a per-theater average of $80,542, the fourth best of 2017.[23] The film made $1.1 million from 53 theaters in its second weekend and $4.4 million from 614 in its third, finishing a respective 9th and 10th at the box office.[24] In the weekend following its four Golden Globe wins the film was added to 712 theaters (for a total of 1,022) and grossed $2.3 million, and increase of 226% from the previous week's $706,188.[25]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 93% based on 265 reviews and an average rating of 8.6/10. The site's critical consensus read, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deftly balances black comedy against searing drama – and draws unforgettable performances from its veteran cast along the way."[26] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film had a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[27] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[28]



  1. ^ a b c d "Film releases". Variety Insight. Retrieved July 3, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri". tiff. Retrieved September 12, 2017. 
  3. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 1, 2017). "Exhibition Rings Up Fox Searchlight To Expand 'Three Billboards' Coast To Coast – Box Office". Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 20, 2018. 
  5. ^ Jilani, Zaid (November 26, 2017). ""Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" Is the Dark Comedy for the Age of Criminal Justice Reform". The Intercept. Retrieved December 5, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Venice Competition Includes Films From George Clooney, Guillermo del Toro, Darren Aronofsky". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media, LLC. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  7. ^ a b "Toronto Film Festival 2017 Unveils Strong Slate". Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  8. ^ Lotito, Thomas (September 17, 2017). "'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Wins Top Prize at Toronto". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  9. ^ Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), retrieved 2017-11-21 
  10. ^ "Death Wish, The Mountain Between Us and More Get Release Changes, Dates". June 8, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  11. ^ "AFI Awards 2017". AFI. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  12. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globe Nominations: Complete List". Variety. Retrieved December 11, 2017. 
  13. ^ "The Shape of Water leads Bafta nominations". BBC News. January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018. 
  14. ^ Pruner, Aaron. "'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Director Martin McDonagh on the Story That Inspired His Film [Interview]". Slashfilm. Retrieved 13 December 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Radish, Christina. "Martin McDonagh on Directing 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' and Writing for Frances McDormand". Collider. Retrieved 13 December 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Fear, David. "Signs of the Times: Inside 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  17. ^ MCGOVERN, JOE. "Frances McDormand talks her love for 'rhythmic profanity' — and reveals her favorite curse word". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  18. ^ Saylor, Jennifer (May 3, 2016). "Big movie comes to Sylva: shooting dates for 'Three Billboards'". WLOS News 13. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  19. ^ Brooks, Brian (November 9, 2017). "Searchlight Posts 'Three Billboards'; The Orchard Has Norway's 'Thelma' – Specialty B.O. Preview". Retrieved November 28, 2017. 
  20. ^ "City of Donostia / San Sebastian Audience Award". San Sebastián International Film Festival. Retrieved September 30, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards to Close London Film Festival 2017". What's Worth Seeing. Retrieved August 22, 2017. 
  22. ^ "'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' 'Custody,' 'Under the Tree' to Compete in Zurich". Variety. Retrieved October 3, 2017. 
  23. ^ Brooks, Brian (November 12, 2017). "Searchlight's 'Three Billboards' Signals Robust Bow; 'Lady Bird' Soars – Specialty B.O". Retrieved November 14, 2017. 
  24. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 26, 2017). "Thanksgiving B.O. At $268M, +3% Over 2016 Spurred By 'Coco' & Holdovers". Retrieved November 26, 2017. 
  25. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 14, 2018). "'Jumanji' Roars To $34M; 'The Post' Still The Most With $22M+; 'The Commuter' Punches $16M: MLK Weekend Box Office Update". Retrieved January 15, 2018. 
  26. ^ "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved January 14, 2018. 
  27. ^ "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 15, 2017. 
  28. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 1, 2017). "Coco' Looking At Sweet $27M+ Second Weekend As Majors Take A Holiday From Any New Wide Releases – Late Night Update". Retrieved December 2, 2017. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on IMDb
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at AllMovie
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at Box Office Mojo
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at Metacritic
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at Rotten Tomatoes
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