Anyone But You’s Shakespeare Trick Was Done Better By This $60 Million Movie From 25 Years Ago

February 21, 2024 - Movies


  • Hollywood often draws from Shakespeare for modern movies – also seen in Lion King & West Side Story.
  • Anyone But You is inspired by Much Ado About Nothing, with similar character names and a twist on the plot.
  • Though 10 Things I Hate About You is a better Shakespeare-inspired romcom, Anyone But You outperformed it at the box office.

Anyone But You has taken the classic structure of a William Shakespeare play and turned it into a modern romantic comedy, which is a neat trick – but it’s not the first movie to do so. Starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, Anyone But You revolves around Bea and Ben, who pretend to be a couple at a destination wedding in Australia and, naturally, end up catching feelings for each other. The screenplay for Anyone But You, penned by Ilana Wolpert and director Will Gluck, was loosely adapted from the story structure of the renowned Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing.

It’s a common practice for Hollywood to plunder the timeless narrative frameworks of Shakespeare’s works for a modern movie adaptation. This practice has resulted in some of the greatest movies ever made. The Lion King was partly inspired by Hamlet. West Side Story is directly adapted from Romeo and Juliet. My Own Private Idaho is a triple-whammy adaptation of Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V. As a romantic comedy, Anyone But You might seem like a fresh spin on Shakespeare, but it’s not the first contemporary romcom to borrow its storyline from a Shakespeare play.

Like Much Ado About Nothing, Anyone But You is about two people who seem to hate each other, but actually turn out to love each other. It’s not a line-by-line translation of the play, but it is a loose adaptation. The character names in Anyone But You are almost identical to the characters in Shakespeare’s play. Bea and Ben are named after Beatrice and Benedick. Benedick’s friend Claudio becomes Claudia, cast as a woman with Alexandra Shipp in the role, and his friend Don Pedro becomes Pete. Leonato becomes Leo, Hero becomes Halle, and Don John becomes Jonathan.

Unlike Much Ado About Nothing, Anyone But You provides the lead characters’ backstory. Bea and Ben have an adorable meet-cute that leads to a great first date, but their connection falls apart due to an unfortunate misunderstanding. That’s when Anyone But You picks up where Shakespeare began the story. The inclusion of the backstory that Shakespeare felt was unnecessary to show is indicative of how storytelling has changed in the movie age. Hollywood studios believe everything needs to be spoon-fed to the audience instead of leaving them to pick up the clues and figure it out for themselves.

Anyone But You isn’t the only modern romcom to borrow its storyline from Shakespeare. 10 Things I Hate About You, starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, plants the story of the Shakespeare comedy The Taming of the Shrew into a late-‘90s American high school setting. The Taming of the Shrew is about the obnoxious Petruchio using all the tricks in his playbook to engage the shrewish Katherina in a romantic relationship. 10 Things I Hate About You is about bad boy Patrick trying to win the heart of antisocial Kat.

Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles pointing straight at the camera in 10 Things I Hate About You

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10 Things I Hate About You



Anyone But You



Between Anyone But You and 10 Things I Hate About You, the latter is easily the best Shakespeare-inspired romcom of the two. Anyone But You neither fully commits to being a Shakespeare adaptation nor changes enough to successfully do its own thing. 10 Things I Hate About You, on the other hand, manages to do both. It leans heavily into its Shakespearean elements and explores what makes the Shakespeare play so great, but it also takes the story in its own direction. It gives its female characters more agency to combat the controversially misogynistic tone of the original play.

It’s not just the Shakespearean elements that make 10 Things I Hate About You a better movie than Anyone But You. The key to a great romcom is nailing the on-screen chemistry between the two leads. The chemistry between Sweeney and Powell is serviceable enough to carry the movie, but Stiles and Ledger are an on-screen pairing for the ages.

Anyone But You Beat 10 Things I Hate About You At The Box Office

Glen Powell as Ben Grimacing While Sydney Sweeney as Bea Smiles in Anyone But You

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10 Things I Hate About You




Anyone But You




While 10 Things I Hate About You is arguably a better movie than Anyone But You, Anyone But You has easily beaten 10 Things I Hate About You at the box office. Granted, the value of the dollar has changed a lot since 1999, but even taking inflation into account, Anyone But You is still a much bigger hit than 10 Things I Hate About You. 10 Things I Hate About You grossed $60.4 million on a $13 million budget (via The Numbers), while Anyone But You has grossed $189.3 million on a $25 million budget (via The Numbers).

Source: The Numbers

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