The film was inspired by the 1957 film An Affair to Remember and used both its theme song and clips from the film in critical scenes. The climactic meeting at the top of the Empire State Building is a reference to a reunion between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember that fails to happen because the Kerr character is struck by a car while en route. At one point, some of the characters discuss Affair, with Sam commenting, "That's a chick's movie."
A year and a half later, on Christmas Eve 1992, Jonah—who wants his father to find a new wife—calls in to a radio talk show. Jonah persuades Sam to go on the air to talk about how much he misses Maggie. Hundreds of women from around the country hear the program and touched by the story, write to Sam.
One of the listeners is Annie Reed, a Baltimore Sun reporter. She is engaged to Walter but feels there is something missing from their relationship. After watching the film An Affair to Remember, Annie impulsively writes a letter suggesting that Sam meet her on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day. She does not intend to mail it, but her friend and editor Becky does it for her and agrees to send Annie to Seattle to "look into doing a story on those radio shows".
Sam begins dating a co-worker, Victoria, whom Jonah dislikes. Jonah, a baseball fan, reads Annie's letter and likes that it mentions the Baltimore Orioles, but he fails to convince his father to go to New York to meet Annie. On the advice of his friend Jessica, Jonah replies to Annie, agreeing to the New York meeting.
While dropping Victoria off at the airport for a flight, Sam sees Annie exiting from her plane and is taken by her, although he has no idea who she is. Annie watches Sam and Jonah playing on the beach together but mistakes Sam's sister Suzy for his girlfriend. He recognizes her from the airport and says "Hello", but Annie can only respond with another "Hello" before fleeing. She decides she is being foolish and goes to New York to meet Walter for Valentine's Day.
With Jessica's help, Jonah flies to New York without Sam's permission and goes to the Empire State Building searching for Annie. Jonah goes to the observation deck and asks every unattached woman if she is Annie. Sam, distraught, follows Jonah and finds him on the observation deck. Meanwhile, Annie has seen the skyscraper from the Rainbow Room where she is dining with Walter and confesses her doubts to him. They amicably end their engagement. She rushes to the Empire State Building but is told that the observation deck is closed. Annie convinces the guard to let her go to the observation deck after mentioning An Affair to Remember (which the guard replies is his wife's favorite movie) and arrives just moments after the doors to the down elevator close with Sam and Jonah inside.
In spite of the observation deck being deserted, Annie convinces the elevator operator to let her take a quick look around. She discovers a backpack that Jonah has left behind. As she pulls out Jonah's teddy bear from the backpack, Sam and Jonah emerge from the elevator, and the three meet for the first time. Annie asks Jonah if the teddy bear is his, and he says it is. "Are you Annie?" Jonah asks. She nods yes, and Jonah smiles. "You're Annie?," says a stunned and love struck Sam. The elevator operator clears his throat. Sam indicates they should go, momentarily making it unclear what his intentions are, until he says "Shall we?", tenderly offering his hand to Annie, and the three go down the elevator together. As the elevator door closes, the last thing we see is Jonah's beaming smile as he realizes his plan to bring Annie and his father together has worked, and he soon have a new mother he adores, and his father will be happily married again.
- Tom Hanks as Sam Baldwin
- Meg Ryan as Annie Reed
- Bill Pullman as Walter
- Ross Malinger as Jonah Baldwin
- Rosie O'Donnell as Becky
- Gaby Hoffmann as Jessica
- Victor Garber as Greg
- Rita Wilson as Suzy
- Barbara Garrick as Victoria
- Carey Lowell as Maggie Baldwin
- David Hyde Pierce as Dennis Reed
- Dana Ivey as Claire Bennett
- Rob Reiner as Jay
- Kevin O'Morrison as Cliff Reed
- Caroline Aaron as Dr. Marcia Fieldstone
Hanks and Ryan had previously acted together in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and would later star together in You've Got Mail (1998). Julia Roberts and Kim Basinger were reportedly offered the role of Annie Reed, but both turned it down.
The film was originally to have been scored by John Barry, but when he was given a list of 20 songs he had to put in the film, he quit.
- "As Time Goes By" by Jimmy Durante – 2:28
- "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" by Louis Armstrong – 3:01
- "Stardust" by Nat King Cole – 3:15
- "Makin' Whoopee" by Dr. John featuring Rickie Lee Jones – 4:09
- "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" by Carly Simon – 3:16
- "Back in the Saddle Again" by Gene Autry – 2:36
- "Bye Bye Blackbird" by Joe Cocker – 3:30
- "A Wink and a Smile" by Harry Connick, Jr. – 4:08
- "Stand by Your Man" by Tammy Wynette – 2:41
- "An Affair to Remember" by Marc Shaiman – 2:31
- "Make Someone Happy" by Jimmy Durante – 1:52
- "When I Fall in Love" by Celine Dion and Clive Griffin – 4:21
Sleepless in Seattle received two nominations for awards in the 66th Academy Awards (held in 1994), but did not win either of them. It lost out to The Piano for Best Original Screenplay while the song "A Wink and a Smile" lost out to "Streets of Philadelphia" (from Philadelphia, another Tom Hanks movie) for Best Original Song. The film was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards: one for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy (Tom Hanks) another for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Meg Ryan) and a third for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
The film won four awards at different ceremonies. Ryan won the award for Funniest Actress in a Leading Role at the American Comedy Awards. At the 1994 Young Artist Awards, Malinger won the award for Best Actor Under Ten in a Motion Picture and the film itself won Outstanding Family Motion Picture for Comedy
|66th Academy Awards||Best Original Song||"A Wink and a Smile"||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay – Original||Nora Ephron, David S. Ward and Jeff Arch|
|48th BAFTA Film Awards||Best Score||Marc Shaiman||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Nora Ephron, David S. Ward and Jeff Arch|
|American Comedy Awards||Funniest Actress in a Leading Role||Meg Ryan||Won|
|51st Golden Globe Awards||Best Film – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|Best Actor – Musical or Comedy||Tom Hanks|
|Best Actress – Musical or Comedy||Meg Ryan|
|1994 MTV Movie Awards||Best Breakthrough Performance||Ross Malinger||Nominated|
|Best Female Performance||Meg Ryan|
|Best Movie Song||"When I Fall in Love" (Celine Dion and Clive Griffin)|
|Best On-Screen Duo||Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Actor Under Ten in a Motion Picture||Ross Malinger||Won|
|Outstanding Family Motion Picture – Comedy|
In 2009 development began on a musical version of Sleepless in Seattle. David Shor was announced as the musical's producer, with a book being written by Jeff Arch, Shor's longtime partner and original story writer for the motion picture. Leslie Bricusse was initially attached to the project, but withdrew due to "creative differences with the show's producer and director". Michelle Citrin, Michael Garin and Josh Nelson were announced to be working on the music and lyrics, with Shor discovering Citrin via YouTube. The musical was initially set to release in 2010, with the premiere date later being moved to 2011 and June 2012. In February 2012 Shor announced that the musical would not premiere until the 2012/2013 season and that the show would "undergo a top-to-bottom overhaul" and would have a new creative team.
- This is the first film to feature the 1993 TriStar Pictures logo.
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