The story that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick was scheduled to hit the big screens in just a few months, on March 13, 2015. The film, entitled In the Heart of the Sea starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Tom Holland looks to be a breathtaking adventure filled with sea, survival, and a massive whale. But, director of the film, Ron Howard decided to push back the release even though the film is ready to go in hopes that a winter date will inspire more people to go to the theaters and see the film.
Ron Howard, who has brought us an array of stunning films from Cinderella Man to How the Grinch Stole Christmas to A Beautiful Mind has directed and produced many critically-acclaimed films, so why he wants to change the date of the release is a bit confusing. He told The Hollywood Reporter that the pushback is due to sound data, and analyzing the way people are already responding to the film. He said:
"They analyzed the way people are responding to our movie now which is very favorable now that it’s finished, the way people responded to the marketing materials, and they also looked out how the market expanded this last Christmas increasing a wide array of movies. There was a larger audience. I wanted as many people to see this movie on the big screen as possible and I do feel like it’s more of that fourth quarter, early winter kind of feel in terms of the tone of the movie."
This type of news isn’t totally surprising. Last month we saw a slew of movies come out during the Christmas season that did incredibly well, especially in comparison to the slow year the box office saw. Among them was Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. Apparently, the holiday season is the perfect market for inspirational stories. An analyst with Exhibitor Relations told Variety in regards to Unbroken that the holiday season is the time of year when stories about faith, and the strength of the human spirit bring in serious numbers at the box office. He compared it to The Blind Side which drew in crowds and crowds of people by emphasizing uplift.
Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea tells the story of a whale of mammoth size and will, with a strange human-like sense of vengeance. It’s based on a real-life story and the Nathaniel Philbrick non-fiction book of the same name. The whaleship, Essex, experiences disaster, and the surviving crew are shipwrecked at sea for more than 90 days testing their limits and forcing them to do the unthinkable. There actually is a huge similarity to Jolie’s Unbroken where the protagonist has to survive for 47 days in a raft after a near-fatal ship wreck. So, Howard’s decision in pushing back the film may be because he foresees a similar success.
Despite the association with Moby Dick, and a face like Chris Hemsworth attached, it will be difficult to mirror such success in such close release with the highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens which is scheduled to release December 18, 2015. Howard does seem sincere in sharing his visual story with a bigger mass, but it seems to be more of a money-making scheme than anything else. We’ll see how In the Heart of the Sea does when it hits theaters December 11, 2015.