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It Started Out With A Kiss: How ‘The Kissing Booth’ And ‘To All The Boys’ Charmed Romance Fans

Like Peter fell for Lara Jean, and Noah for Elle, audiences around the world have fallen hard for the To All the Boys and The Kissing Booth films. Since their 2018 debuts, these movies have romanced over 125M households each, and 25% of those have watched all five films. As these beloved rom-com trilogies come to an end – To All the Boys: Now and Forever debuted in February and The Kissing Booth 3 hits Netflix on Aug. 11 – we spoke with Ian Bricke, VP, Independent Film, about the secrets behind their success, working with the authors of these beloved books and what’s next.

Now that both films are in their final chapter, what’s it like to look back on everything that’s led up to this point?

On one hand, it’s the satisfaction of taking a bet on something a long time ago that panned out and delivered in more ways than you ever could’ve imagined. And then also, the fact that these films have become so important to so many people. People really stuck with these films and followed the characters from film one to film two to film three.

Why are audiences so passionate about these films? What do you attribute that to? 

I think it’s relatability. Both films touch on key milestones that people relate to in one way or another: first love, prom, graduation, going to college, long distance relationships, letting go of home and high school and friends and figuring yourself out. And there’s something cool about feeling like you’re living through these moments with these characters, either as an adult looking back through a nostalgic lens, or as someone who’s a peer, or the generation of kids who are a little bit younger than these characters, but can imagine themselves going through these moments.

Why do you think these films were so successful on Netflix? 

Partly because of the way Netflix presents films to folks in a way that feels very organic. There’s a real sense of discovery. I remember feeling this particularly strongly around the first Kissing Booth, where people were watching and rewatching the movie again and again the first week, which to me signaled a sense of excitement and ownership.

I think the other layer is because Netflix is a global platform. The fact that these films were so popular in places all over the world where the books were never published — not just the first films, but the sequels too — suggests this great flywheel that happens.

What was it like working with the authors to bring these books to screen?

With To All The Boys, Jenny Han was an essential creative partner all throughout the films, and a big part of the evolution. She was an integral part of the creative process especially in terms of shaping the characters, in terms of the tone and in terms of thinking about cultural representation.

For The Kissing Booth, Beth Reekles published the first novel on Wattpad when she was a teenager. Years later, it winds up becoming a movie and she set the tone and the characters. Vince Marcello, the director of all three films, really dialed in with her. There was a great collaboration between the writer and the filmmaker for how the books and movies all lived side by side.

Were there any challenges in making the sequels? 

As we went through the second and third films, we added more characters into the mix. We added John Ambrose in To All the Boys and Marco in The Kissing Booth. Fans love that, because there were new additions to the ensemble, new points to the love triangle. But we didn’t tip either film too far from the things that people love about the first one.

So that’s the challenge: How do you take a movie and give it some place to go over multiple films, and grow and expand the world of the film, but not lose track of what is at its core? In both cases, our creative partners were a huge part of that, trying to deliver on a sense of growth and change and expansion, but maintaining consistency as well.

Do you see Netflix doing more of these films in the future? 

Absolutely. It can take different forms. But I think there’s something about following characters over time and following actors over time and feeling like part of your audience is growing up alongside them.  We want to continue that.  We’re thrilled to be working with Joey King, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo on future projects and to be part of their story for years to come.

The Kissing Booth 3 debuts August 11.

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