The Kissing Booth 3 ended with Elle and Noah riding off into the sunset together on their motorcycles. They had crossed paths for the first time in 6 years at the carnival — and the kissing booth is still happening — and it’s clear that there are still feelings between them. However, the movie’s ending has been the subject of a lot of discussion on social media, particularly about why Elle and Noah didn’t *technically* reunite.
HollywoodLife got EXCLUSIVE scoop straight from The Kissing Booth 3 writer/director Vince Marcello about Elle and Noah’s fate. Rest assured, he believes these two do get back together. He explained their reunion at the carnival and what it meant for these two characters. Read our Q&A below:
There has been a lot of discussion about the ending on social media. There’s been some discourse about not having Elle and Noah officially together in the end. Was there a moment while you were writing the script that they were going to end up together officially?
Vince Marcello: I guess it becomes the definition of what is official. There was never a moment where he ran down the stairs. No one ever even considered it. As you always do when you build a triangle, which is really a four-sided thing if you include Lee, but just the pure Marco-Noah part, you are going to have a third of the fans who will be disappointed that she’s not with Marco. You’re going to have some conversation that’s going to happen which, in my opinion, isn’t always a negative thing. But what we began to say was we felt the most important thing, because these movies at the end of the day really are romantic films and they’re fizzy and have all those characteristics of romantic comedy, but it’s really coming of age stories. The coming of age aspect of it must have been something that showed Elle’s growth path, the idea of pleasing the people in your life in order to feel your love for them. That became the priority, so when we figured out how we wanted to end that story and where we kind of wanted to take it, then it became an aspect of what is the end terms of her romantic life? And that was really where the idea of them coming together at the carnival came in, which allowed us to bring the kissing booth back in. It was an organic way of bringing the kissing booth back into the kids’ lives who were no longer in high school. It came from my world that there was a fair every year that kids from school would go to all the time. That’s when this idea came that we wanted to show that these two individuals have grown up, they both acknowledge that they’re mature now, and you create the delightful possibility of what if. When you’re talking about iconography and movies and you see two people driving off the sunset together, that’s a pretty strong image. It’s interesting how much conversation is involved. I’m actually delighted that people want to talk about it that much, but it was certainly our intention to imply that there was a very strong likelihood that these two would give it another try. The kind of growing, slightly bittersweet, but the still hopeful ending was in the DNA from the very beginning. I know it’s always a situation of giving fans what they want, but from the beginning, we were set with the objective of trying to do something that we were never going to completely please everyone. Plenty of people didn’t even want her to be with Noah.
I kept thinking as I was scrolling through TikTok, did we watch the same movie? I’ve watched enough TV and enough movies to know what that ending implied, and it alluded to them getting back together.
Vince Marcello: It’s open to interpretation, but I think Joey [King] also did something in her interviews, which set it up. Joey’s very sly and wonderful in terms of giving great interviews before a movie starts to help create interest by creating a sense of greater ambiguity because she didn’t want to say yea or nay. In the interview, I think it also teed that up a little bit, but I’ll say it once again just to make sure the point is clear… the conversation about it is because everyone cares. We’re also dealing with an international franchise of people from all over the world interpreting images, so there’s going to be some that, which is the rise of the “movie explained” phenomenon on the internet. I mean, we didn’t have this when we were kids, and we were able to watch movies just fine. It’s an interesting phenomenon of our time. Everyone’s part of the conversation. If it didn’t matter to people, they wouldn’t talk about it.
So, just to set the record straight, do they get back together in your mind?
Vince Marcello: In my mind, they do. They do give it another shot.
Okay, great. I know they mentioned Lee and Rachel’s wedding. I was thinking, “Great, that would be perfect timing.”
Vince Marcello: Through the lines and the dialogue and the structure of the scene, you’ll hear two people who are giving each other signals that they want to try again. Elle got a motorcycle and chooses to tell him that. He taught her how to ride. When Noah says “if you have time,” and Elle says, “I’ve got time.” There are all these lines that say, yes, this is going to happen. But as is always the case, people have to want it for themselves. But in my mind, these are two people that want to give it another try. We hope that they will give it another try and it will work.
The movie does have a 6-year time jump. Was it always going to be 6 years?
Vince Marcello: It was one of those things that we looked at, and the key was I wanted to be able to have them both more in their careers. With Noah going to become a lawyer, the idea was to get him out of law school at the time they [Noah and Elle] were both done. It felt like they both are at a crossroads. They both have just finished school, he’s about to work, she’s got a job. If you just looked at the pure numbers part of it, that made sense as a good time jump. I will say that most of the people that I know that got back together with their high school sweethearts did so after college. They’d been through that process of dating other people, coming back, settling in, and their mind turned back to a first love. I have several friends that ended up doing that. It was debated, but we landed on that number pretty quick when you looked at undergrad plus law school or undergrad for the kids who were a year behind.
I know The Kissing Booth 3 was filmed back to back with the second movie. Did you know right away going into The Kissing Booth 2 that you were going to get a third movie?
Vince Marcello: Yes. After the success of the first which, of course, no one can ever predict that kind of genie in a bottle popularity… As soon as it became apparent that Netflix, which was about 35 seconds after it happened, that they were going to want more I knew that if they wanted a second, they’d want a third. Knowing Joey as well as I do and the others, I could tell Joey was on the precipice of some big things that were about to happen in her career, which was exciting to watch. I told them that if they want a third one we should do it now. We should do it back to back, and I should write the thing like one big movie with a cliffhanger. The benefit was we were able to obviously write the stories in true continuity and arcs of characters in a way that felt planned. We were able to enjoy the efficiencies of block shooting a big movie almost like a television show but a feature film. Everyone had gotten on board and signed up for taking that chunk of their life. We were in Africa for nine months.
The first movie introduced us to Elle and Noah’s love story, but Lee was a major element in their relationship. When you were crafting the second and third movies, was there a time that a Lee and Elle romantic pairing was considered?
Vince Marcello: That was probably one of the first things that Beth Reekles, the author of the original books, and I connected on. She was a fan of the John Hughes style movies. As I read it, I could see that some of the DNA was in there. I grew up on those films, of course. When we talked I said, “I don’t know how you’d feel about it but one of the things that I’d like to connect with, and it’s probably because of the way I grew up. A close friend that I had was a girl. I just don’t feel that Lee and Elle should ever end up together.” And she went, “Oh my god, yes. Thank you for saying that. I don’t want to do that.” We had a conversation and quickly dismissed it because we felt that it was something that felt overdone. We did little things along the way to make you maybe hope or wish for that. Those were intentional and put in to create a sense of… Oh, is it going to go that way? We talked about it and knew we didn’t want to.
I’m so glad Elle chose herself and decided not to go to Berkeley or Harvard.
Vince Marcello: What connected for me when I read it was when you’re friends in school, I was that close with my best friend. They become almost part of your identity, and the separation of that is traumatic. I know people formulate their own opinions about things, but I found it to be pretty common among people of that age where you become so attached to that individual as part of who you are, and when that becomes threatening because you’re ending school, there is a sense of loss and fear that comes with that. It’s that maturing crossed with realizing that you can never maintain the closeness of that relationship into your adult years. It’s just impossible. So part of the maturing process is learning how to redefine the relationship, keep that friendship in your life, but without that level of intensity. That’s another thing that I love about the story is Lee, who is this manchild until the end when he finally confronts it, and it’s for Elle, too. People want to use this word possessive, which is laden with judgment. I don’t think of it as possessiveness. I think of it as almost a self-definition. Another thing I loved about these movies is Lee’s ability to change and mature and Elle’s discovery that loving people doesn’t mean self-sacrificing just to keep the peace and to make sure people are happy. There’s a process of self-developing that has to occur where the people that love you will fill in around that once you define who you are. And then for Noah, of course, it’s this idea that his expression of love is to make sure that she’s going in the direction that is right for her. He’s helping her make a decision he feels is in her best interest but realizing, ultimately, that he’s still trying to make the decision for her. That kind of epiphany for him when he’s there and sitting on the bed, he didn’t need to try to protect her. I knew all those kids in school. I knew the guys that were doing that, having that “save the girl” kind of story. I love that each of them was able to arc in that way. And then, Lee and Rachel are meant to be together. Rachel is probably one of the most centered and balanced characters in the story. She’s the one who helps Lee separate but then they do find their way back to each other, and the idea is that hopefully Elle and Noah will.