When the 500 Days of Summer screenplay came onto the scene, it took a bit of time before it was actually produced. In fact, it was even featured in the 2006 Blacklist, a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year. Finally, the film was produced and released to incredible success both critically and commercially. So what makes the 500 Days of Screenplay so good that it became one of the best romantic comedy sleeper hits of all time? We’ll find out, along with a shot-by-shot video breakdown of the now-iconic “expectations vs. reality” scene.
Watch: 'Expectations vs. Reality' Scene Breakdown
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500 Days of Summer PDF Download
Click to view and download the entire 500 Days of Summer script PDF below.
WHO WROTE 500 Days of Summer SCRIPT?
Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Neustadter and Weber always wanted to write a romantic comedy together since plenty of their favorite films were stories about relationships. At the time, they found that the era of great romantic comedies was slowly fading out. With the desire to write a screenplay for one, all they needed was inspiration.
Inspiration hit brutally hard when Neustadter’s relationship came to an end. And thus the character of Summer and her relationship with Tom was partly based on Neustadter’s relationship. In a DVD commentary, Neustadter estimates that about 75% of the film’s story actually happened to him.
STRUCTURE OF 500 Days of Summer SCREENPLAY
Here is the story structure for the 500 Days of Summer screenplay:
Tom has always believed that he will never truly be happy until he finds “the one.” Summer, however, has no problem relinquishing attachments. We find Summer wearing a wedding ring holding Tom’s hand.
Tom is heartbroken after Summer breaks up with him. As he talks to his sister and friends, we look back at how Tom first meets Summer at his job and falls head over heels for her.
Plot Point One
Summer and Tom share their differing opinions on love at a bar. The next day, Summer kisses Tom in the copy room.
As Tom and Summer joke around in an IKEA, Summer tells Tom she’s not looking for anything serious. Tom seemingly is okay with it. That night, Tom and Summer sleep together.
We jump forward, seeing Tom depressed. He receives an email from Summer saying she hopes Tom’s ready to be friends. We jump back and see Tom and Summer growing closer as she lets her guard down.
Plot Point Two
Tom and Summer are at a bar. A guy tries to hit on Summer and insults Tom. Tom punches him and Summer gets mad at him. After confronting her about how they’re not “just friends,” Summer apologizes to Tom.
Summer becomes increasingly cold toward Tom up until they break up. Tom is incredibly depressed. He lashes out at work saying they tell lies through their cards and quits his job.
Tom reunites with Summer coincidentally on a train as they head toward the same wedding. Summer invites him to a party later that week. At the party, Tom’s expectations fall short as he finds out that Summer is engaged.
Tom pulls himself together and begins applying himself to his architectural career. When he sees Summer at a park bench, she tells him he was right about love. As he waits for a job interview, Tom meets a new girl named Autumn.
500 Days of summer script characters
Characters built for conflict
When screenwriters Neustadter and Weber first introduce us to the main characters Tom and Summer, we can already sense an impending conflict between them.
The screenplay establishes early on the differences between Tom and Summer’s characters that soon become the engine of the story. The key difference being both characters’ philosophy on love.
Within the first few pages of the 500 Days of Summer screenplay, a fundamental philosophical disagreement is introduced between our two characters. One believes in the necessity of love and attachment while the other believes in the absence of it.
This disagreement is the engine for conflict throughout the film. By introducing it early on, Neustadter and Weber hook us. When Tom and Summer have a meet-cute moment, our knowledge of their differences creates a sort of suspense that keeps us engaged. We don’t ask “Will he fall for her?” but rather “How will this work against him?”
The differing beliefs between the characters has also made the movie quite polarizing. The conflict extends from the characters’ beliefs to the audiences.
Some audience members root for Tom and his romanticism. Others, however, are more understanding of Summer and her aversion to a relationship as well as her honesty. The room for interpretation has made the 500 Days of Summer script somewhat of a modern classic.
The meet-cute in the film can be considered a push/pull. What is a push/pull meet-cute? Check out our video on this classic genre moment in our essay.
In this video analysis by The Take, the differing takeaways from 500 Days of Summer are analyzed and traced back to the beliefs and qualities of each character.
By establishing differing philosophical beliefs in the main characters of the script early on, the 500 Days of Summer screenplay creates conflict not only between its characters, but in the audience. What better way to create a lasting film than by creating a dialogue in the audience.
500 Days of Summer Script Takeaway #2
500 Days of Summer’s thematic quotes
The 500 Days of Summer screenplay is full of memorable quotes that are centered around the theme of love. Within the script, there is even a segment in which character’s break the fourth wall and are speaking on the topic of love interview-style. Not only does this expand on the film’s characters, but it reinforces the film’s theme on differing perspectives on love and relationships.
A bit of interesting trivia according to IMDb is that the studio actually wanted to cut this interview style bit from the final cut of the film. The reason it stayed is because of a positive reaction from the audience during a test screening.
So what was it about this segment that audiences loved? While it hardly moves the story forward, these quotes build upon the central themes of the film. It presses upon the audience that the varying perspectives on love are countless. And that while Summer and Tom disagree on the topic, are either really right or wrong?
The film tries to subvert the black and white portrayal of love that so many rom-coms create. While all the interview quotes in the screenplay didn’t make the final cut, the ones that did still serve the same function. The grey area of love and how people perceive it is perfectly portrayed through these memorable interview quotes.
There are many great quotes from the 500 Days of Summer script final draft. Taking a look at the quotes in this scene in particular and analyzing why it remained in the final cut is a great way to understand what resonates with an audience. It goes to show that quotes that reinforce a story’s themes make for a stronger and more compelling story.
500 days of summer bench scene script
500 Days of Summer ends with hope
The non-linear structure of the 500 Days of Summer screenplay is really what sets up its great ending. The script begins showing Summer with an engagement ring holding Tom’s hand.
Because of this we don’t wonder how the movie necessarily ends, but how it gets to this point. Our expectations of Tom and Summer getting engaged are quickly subverted, making for a great emotional twist.
In their final dialogue in the script, Summer and Tom realize their full character arc. Summer finds that she does believe in love and fate and that Tom was right all along. Tom, despite thinking all his beliefs on love are wrong, realizes he was only wrong about the girl he fell for.
In a way, this final scene is another rendition of one of Tom and Summer’s first conversations in the beginning of the script. In the beginning of the story, Tom and Summer talk about the idea of love at a bar. Tom being a believer and Summer thinking love is a fairytale.
This final conversation shows how the tables have turned. Now it is Summer convincing Tom that he was right about love all along and that she is proof of it, despite it not happening with him.
In a way, this conversation is what really sets up Tom for the final scene of the film. Before a job interview, Tom opens up and talks to a woman also waiting to interview. Summer’s reassurance of fate to Tom incites him to ask this woman out. A woman aptly named Autumn.
The structure of the 500 Days of Summer is non-linear, but it is anything but random. Writers Neustadter and Weber create an incredible ending through creative setup that ties the story’s character arcs, themes, and story full circle.
Read and download more scripts
500 Days of Summer’s screenplay has become a modern classic among romantic comedies. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, and Casablanca in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.