Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a darkly comic drama from Academy Award nominee Martin McDonagh (In Bruges). After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a 2017 drama film written, co-produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh. It stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell. McDormand plays a mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder.
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; it has grossed $71 million worldwide. It was praised for McDonagh’s screenplay and direction, as well as McDormand, Harrelson, and Rockwell’s performances.
At the 90th Academy Awards, the film received seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress for McDormand and Best Supporting Actor nominations for Harrelson and Rockwell. It won numerous other awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress – Drama (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell), and Best Screenplay at the 75th Golden Globe Awards, and three at the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards, including Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
As of January 29, 2018, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has grossed $37.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $34.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $71.9 million. 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. 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. 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. The weekend of January 27, 2018, following the announcement of the film’s seven Oscar nominations, it made $3.6 million (an increase of 87% over the previous week’s $1.9 million), finishing 13th.
About the Story
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 racist 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.
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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Alejandro Barrios, Abbie Cornish, Amanda Warren, Malaya Rivera Drew, Riya May Atwood, Selah Atwood
Screenplay by: Martin McDonagh
Production Design by: Inbal Weinberg
Cinematography by: Ben Davis
Film Editing by: Jon Gregory
Costume Design by: Melissa Toth
Set Decoration by: Merissa Lombardo
Art Direction by: Jesse Rosenthal
Music by: Carter Burwell
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual references.
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: November 10, 2017 (United States), January 12, 2018 (United Kingdom)