In The Heart Of The Sea

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  • Directed By: Ron Howard
  • Written By: Charles Leavitt
  • Release Date: December 11, 2015
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy

Box Office Info:
Budget: $100 million Financed by: Warner Bros; Village Roadshow
Domestic Box Office: $25,020,758 Overseas Box Office: $68,800,000

It was announced in October 2000 that Intermedia optioned the theatrical rights to Nathaniel Philbrick’s novel In The Heart of the Sea for high six-figures against low seven-figures.  The project never materialized and nearly a decade later it was in development at Regency with Ed Zwick set to direct — but once again In The Heart of the Sea stalled.  Chris Hemsworth became attached in the lead role in 2012 and the project was making the rounds at studios, with DreamWorks as the likeliest home for the movie — but after Ron Howard committed to direct, it landed at Warner Bros.

The budget for In The Heart Of The Sea was reported to be between $110 – $115 million, though Warner Bros claims the costs were closer to $100 million.  The original $85 million budget swelled after costly challenges of filming on water and adding 3D.  Warner Bros and Village Roadshow co-financed.

The picture was originally scheduled for a stateside release on March 13, 2015 but Warner Bros pushed the March release date back nine months to December for an awards qualifying run and placed the Liam Neeson actioner Run All Night into its vacancy.  In The Heart Of The Sea received mixed to poor reviews, which killed off any possible awards hype and it was tracking for disaster.  Chris Hemsworth was not bankable outside of the Marvel movies and his previous vehicle was Blackhat earlier in the year, which ended as one of the biggest flops of all time — and In The Heart of the Sea also joined the ranks as one of the biggest money losers on record.

In The Heart of the Sea was the only wide release dated for December 11 and it saw competition from the glut of awards fare targeting older audiences.  The marketplace was also slowing down before the arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens the following weekend.  WB gave In The Heart Of The Sea a pricey marketing blitz, with over $30 million just in domestic TV ads, plus millions more in print, online, radio, virtual print fees, where the domestic P&A costs were north of $50 million.

Warner Bros opened the film in 3,103 theaters and it came in below its modest expectations with $11,053,366 — placing #2 for the slow weekend led by the holdover The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.  Since the picture skewed to an older audience, WB expected the movie to play well over the upcoming weeks, but it plummeted 68.7% in its second frame to $3,465,000 when Star Wars sucked the air out of the marketplace.  In The Heart Of The Sea was yanked out of 2,418 theaters going into its third weekend (which at the time of release was the third biggest theater drop on record) and grossed a mere $965,800 in 685 theaters.  The domestic run closed with an awful $25,020,758.

Warner Bros distributed In The Heart Of The Sea in most overseas markets and just as with the domestic run, it was hurt by strong competition.  Co-financier Roadshow distributed the pic in their home country Australia to a disappointing $1.7 million.  In The Heart Of The Sea‘s overseas cume stalled at $68.8 million. The worldwide total was $93.8 million and about $51.5M would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross — leaving this as one of WB’s biggest flops in 2015 after Pan and Jupiter Ascending.


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  1. I thought it was good, younger audiences probably were not keen on whaling movie set over 100 years ago, and China, another huge market, would not be interested. That said, yes, it was good

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