Palm Springs (2020 film)

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Palm Springs
Release poster
Directed byMax Barbakow
Screenplay byAndy Siara
Story by
  • Andy Siara
  • Max Barbakow
Produced by
CinematographyQuyen Tran
Edited by
Music byMatthew Compton
Distributed by
Release dates
  • January 26, 2020 (2020-01-26) (Sundance)
  • July 10, 2020 (2020-07-10) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[1]
Box office$1.5 million[2]

Palm Springs is a 2020 American science fiction romantic comedy film directed by Max Barbakow (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Andy Siara, based on a story of their own. Starring Andy Samberg (who co-produced the film), Cristin Milioti, and J. K. Simmons, it focuses on two strangers who meet at a wedding in Palm Springs only to find themselves stuck in a time loop.

Palm Springs premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on January 26, and was simultaneously released on Hulu and in select theaters by Neon on July 10, 2020. The film received critical acclaim for its use of the concept and cast performances. At the 78th Golden Globe Awards, it earned two nominations: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for Samberg. Among other accolades, it won Best Comedy at the 26th Critics' Choice Awards.


On November 9, in Palm Springs, Nyles wakes up and fails to consummate sex with his girlfriend Misty. That evening, Nyles and Sarah bond at a wedding reception for Sarah's sister Tala and her fiancé Abe. They leave the party to have sex in the nearby desert. As he undresses, Nyles is shot with an arrow fired by an assailant. Nyles, injured, crawls into a cave, warning Sarah not to follow him. Concerned for Nyles, Sarah follows him and is sucked into a vortex.

Sarah wakes up and realizes that it is November 9 again. She confronts Nyles, and he explains that by following him into the cave, Sarah has become stuck in a time loop with him; falling asleep or dying resets the loop, repeating November 9. Sarah tries various methods to escape the loop, but is unsuccessful. Nyles, having already been in the loop for a long time, has become complacent and carefree, abandoning hopes of escape.

Nyles and Sarah become close, and Sarah adopts Nyles's carefree and reckless lifestyle. They both begin excitedly looking forward to their next adventures together. Nyles reveals that the man who shot him, Roy, is from the wedding and that Nyles inadvertently trapped him in the time loop. In revenge, Roy sometimes hunts Nyles, torturing or murdering him.

One night, Nyles and Sarah camp out in the desert, get high, and have sex. The day after, Sarah sleeps in and is woken up by Abe, whom she had sex with on November 8, the night before the wedding. Guilt-ridden, Sarah refuses to talk to Nyles about their previous night, expressing nihilism about their life in the loop. After being pulled over by Roy disguised as a cop, Sarah runs him over. Sarah and Nyles argue, leading Nyles to admit that he had slept with Sarah many times in the loop, something he previously lied about. An angry Sarah starts avoiding Nyles.

Nyles feels lost without Sarah and spends multiple days aimlessly moping, discovering Abe and Sarah's affair in the process. One day, Nyles visits Roy at his home in Irvine and they reconcile. Meanwhile, Sarah, resolved to escape the time loop, spends her days studying to become an expert in quantum physics and general relativity. After some experimentation, she believes that exploding oneself in the cave will break the time loop. Sarah offers Nyles a chance to escape with her, but he confesses his love for her and asks if they can stay in the loop together forever. Sarah refuses, resolved to try her escape plan without him.

Sarah attends the wedding one last time, giving a heartfelt speech to her sister, the bride, and then travels to the cave with explosives. Nyles, in a change of heart, rushes to the cave to leave with Sarah. He admits that he would rather die with her in an explosion than remain in the loop alone. Sarah reciprocates his feelings, and they kiss in the cave, as she presses the detonator. The two relax in the pool of a nearby house, which Nyles had showed Sarah during one of their loops. The residents return and catch them in the pool, thereby confirming that the plan has worked, and that it is now November 10.

In a mid-credits scene, Roy, having gotten a voicemail from Sarah explaining her plan to escape the loop, returns to the wedding and asks Nyles if the plan would work. A confused Nyles does not recognize Roy, who smiles, realizing that Nyles is out of the loop and Sarah's escape plan works.



Director Max Barbakow and screenwriter Andy Siara came up with the film's concept as students at the American Film Institute, "with an equal eye on Jungian philosophical ideas and the pragmatic importance of writing a small-budget film that would be easy to produce".[3] They envisioned the script as "an absurdist comedic mumblecore take on Leaving Las Vegas, centered on a despondent thirtysomething who travels to Palm Springs to kill himself, only to slowly rediscover a sense of meaning in his life."[3] When Siara went on to write for the television series Lodge 49, they redeveloped the script into a more ambitious project with a science fiction edge.[4] While Groundhog Day (1993) was a fundamentally important starting point for the use of a time loop in a romantic comedy, Barbakow and Siara knew they needed to distance their script from that film. This led to Palm Springs beginning with Nyles already within the time loop, making the film feel like "a sequel to a movie that doesn't exist" according to Siara, and then adding Sarah as a second character within the loop to serve as a point of navigation for the viewer.[5]

The project was announced in November 2018 after it secured a tax credit to film in California; however, given the limitations of that tax credit, they were forced to film in the Los Angeles area rather than Palm Springs. Andy Samberg was announced as starring in the film.[6] In March 2019, Cristin Milioti and J. K. Simmons joined the cast.[7] Camila Mendes was added in April.[8]

Filming began in April 2019, and lasted for 21 days.[9] Shots feature the Cabazon Dinosaurs.


Palm Springs had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020.[10] Shortly after, Neon and Hulu acquired distribution rights to the film.[11] Neon and Hulu reportedly paid $17,500,000.69 for the film, supposedly breaking the previous record for the highest sale of a film from Sundance by $0.69.[12] Later reports put the deal closer to $22 million after guarantees were factored in.[1]

The film was released in the United States digitally on Hulu and in select drive-in theaters on July 10, 2020.[13] Hulu claimed that the film also set the opening weekend record by "netting more hours watched over its first three days than any other film" in the platform's history.[14] In August 2020, it was reported that 8.1 percent of subscribers had watched the film over its first month.[15] In November, Variety reported the film was the 26th-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point.[16]

In January 2021, a commentary cut of the film featuring Samberg, Milioti, Barbakow, and Siara was released; Hulu claimed it was the first such release by a streaming service.[17]


Box office[edit]

Palm Springs grossed $164,000 from 66 theaters in its opening weekend.[18] It played in about 30 theaters in its second weekend, and made $101,000.[19]

Critical response[edit]

Palm Springs was met with critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 94% based on 251 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Strong performances, assured direction, and a refreshingly original concept make Palm Springs a romcom that's easy to fall in love with."[20] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[21]

Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave the film a grade B+ and praised the film for cleverly reworking the Groundhog Day formula: "The movie always seems on the brink of biting off more than a super energetic 90-minute comedy can chew, and the sheer momentum of the storytelling doesn't give the story time to slow down."[22] Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a positive review, and wrote: "Palm Springs is to time-loop movies as Zombieland was to the undead genre: It's an irreverent take on a form where earlier iterations were obliged to take themselves seriously."[23] Vince Mancini of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, saying: "Palm Springs is the perfect kind of art-comedy. It comes on like a brilliantly silly little lark and eventually lands on you like a ton of bricks."[24]

Metacritic summarized various critics' end-of-year top lists, and ranked Palm Springs in 12th place overall.[25] IGN named the film their Best Movie of the Year 2020.[26]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
ACE Eddie Awards April 17, 2021 Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy or Musical Matthew Friedman and Andrew Dickler Won [27]
Art Directors Guild Awards April 10, 2021 Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Film Jason Kisvarday Nominated [28]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards March 7, 2021 Best Comedy Palm Springs Won [29]
Critics' Choice Super Awards January 10, 2021 Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie Palm Springs Won [30]
Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie Andy Samberg Won
J. K. Simmons Nominated
Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie Cristin Milioti Won
Best Villain in a Movie J. K. Simmons Nominated
Golden Globe Awards February 28, 2021 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Palm Springs Nominated [31]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Andy Samberg Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association March 5, 2021 Best Comedy or Musical Palm Springs Won [32]
Best Indie Film Palm Springs Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Andy Siara Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards January 27, 2021 Best Original Score in a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Matthew Compton Nominated [33]
Hugo Awards April 13, 2021 Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Max Barbakow and Andy Siara Nominated [34]
Independent Spirit Awards April 22, 2021 Best First Screenplay Andy Siara Won
Set Decorators Society of America Awards March 31, 2021 Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a Science Fiction or Fantasy Feature Film Kelsi Ephraim and Jason Kisvarday Nominated [35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (February 3, 2020). "Value Of Hulu/NEON 'Palm Springs' Deal Is Actually $22 Million; How Streamers Ruled 2020 Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  2. ^ "Palm Springs (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Siede, Caroline (December 4, 2020). "Palm Springs is the definitive 2020 rom-com". The A.V. Club.
  4. ^ Erbland, Kate (July 7, 2020). "How 'Palm Springs' Transformed from 'Leaving Las Vegas' Rip-Off to a Sci-Fi 'Groundhog Day'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on February 17, 2021. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  5. ^ Kring-Schreifels, Jake (July 9, 2020). "How the 'Palm Springs' Team Found a New Wrinkle in the Time-Loop Movie". The Ringer. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  6. ^ "SNL alum Andy Samberg's 'Palm Springs' film on pace to earn $2.5 million in tax credits". The Desert Sun. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 11, 2019). "Upstart Limelight Sets 'Palm Springs' As First Go Picture; Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons To Star". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  8. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (April 9, 2019). "'Riverdale's Camila Mendes To Star In Netflix Film 'Windfall'; Joins J.K. Simmons & Andy Samberg in 'Palm Springs'". Deadline.
  9. ^ Bennett, Alanna (May 2019). "Camila Mendes Is Taking It All in Stride". Teen Vogue.
  10. ^ Patten, Dominic (December 4, 2019). "Sundance 2020: Angelina Jolie, Robert Redford, Riley Keough, Bruce Lee Docu, Lena Waithe & LGBTQ+ Rights Pack Lineup". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 27, 2020). "'Palm Springs' Near $15 Million Deal With Neon & Hulu – Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  12. ^ Coyle, Jake (January 8, 2020). "'Palm Springs' sets a Sundance record in $17.5M sale". Associated Press News.
  13. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (May 28, 2020). "Andy Samberg's Rom-Com 'Palm Springs' Will Debut on Hulu in July". Variety. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  14. ^ Scharf, Zack (July 14, 2020). "'Palm Springs' Sets Hulu Streaming Record with Biggest Opening Weekend — Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  15. ^ Tran, Kevin (August 10, 2020). "'Hamilton' Far Bigger Than Anything on Netflix in July, Audience Data Reveals". Variety. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  16. ^ Bridge, Gavin (November 4, 2020). "Data: 'Borat 2' Second Only To 'Hamilton' in Most-Watched U.S. SVOD Movies of 2020". Variety. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  17. ^ Donnelly, Matt (January 25, 2021). "Hulu Debuts 'Palm Springs' Commentary Cut With Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  18. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (July 13, 2020). "'Empire Strikes Back' Leads At The Weekend Box Office With $644K, 23 Years After Sequel's Special Edition – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  19. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (July 21, 2020). "'The Outpost' Still Strong on VOD, While John Lewis and Danny Trejo Docs Score". IndieWire. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  20. ^ "Palm Springs (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  21. ^ "Palm Springs Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  22. ^ Ehrlich, David (January 27, 2020). "'Palm Springs' Review: Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island Brilliantly Reinvent the 'Groundhog Day' Formula". IndieWire. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  23. ^ Debruge, Peter (January 28, 2020). "'Palm Springs': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  24. ^ Mancini, Vince (July 7, 2020). "'Palm Springs' Is Silly, Stylish, Profound, And Damn Near Perfect". Uproxx. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  25. ^ "Best of 2020: Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  26. ^ "Best Movie of the Year 2020". December 21, 2020. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  27. ^ "ACE Eddie Awards: 'Trial Of The Chicago 7', 'Palm Springs', 'Soul' Top Film Winners; 'Ted Lasso', 'Queen's Gambit' Score In TV – Full Winners List". April 17, 2021. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
  28. ^ "2021 ADG AWARDS NOMINEES". Art Directors Guild. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  29. ^ Davis, Clayton (February 8, 2021). "Critics Choice Awards: 'Mank' Leads With 12 Nominations, Netflix Makes History With Four Best Picture Nominees". Variety. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  30. ^ Millado, Nate (January 4, 2021). "Here Are The Winners Of The First Annual Critics Choice Super Awards". CBS Watch. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  31. ^ "Nominations for the 78th Golden Globe Awards (2021) Announced". Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  32. ^ "The 2020 Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) Nominations". Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  33. ^ Grein, Paul (January 27, 2021). "Diane Warren & James Newton Howard Among Top Winners at 2021 Hollywood Music in Media Awards". Billboard. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  34. ^ "2021 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. January 2021. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  35. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (March 11, 2021). "'Promising Young Woman' and 'News of the World' Among Inaugural Set Decorators Awards Nominations". Variety. Retrieved June 23, 2021.

External links[edit]