In the Heart of the Sea is a 2015 adventure-drama film directed and produced by Ron Howard and written by Charles Leavitt. It is based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s non-fiction book of the same name, about the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex in 1820, an event that inspired the novel Moby-Dick. An international co-production between the United States and Spain, the film stars Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson.
The film premiered in New York City on December 7, 2015 and was released in cinemas in the United States on December 11, 2015 by Warner Bros. Pictures. In the Heart of the Sea received mixed reviews from critics, and grossed $93 million against a $100 million budget
In 1850, author Herman Melville visits innkeeper Thomas Nickerson, the last survivor of the sinking of the whaleship Essex, offering money in return for his story. Nickerson initially refuses, but finally agrees when his wife intervenes.
The story turns to 1820: a whaling company in Nantucket has refitted the Essex to participate in the lucrative whale oil trade, and 14-year-old Nickerson signs on as a cabin boy. The owners hire veteran whaler Owen Chase as first mate, though he is disappointed not to receive a captain’s commission. The captain is George Pollard, an inexperienced mariner from an established whaling family who envies Chase’s skill and popularity. Chase and Pollard clash, leading Pollard to sail into a storm against Chase’s advice. The two agree to put their differences aside, rather than risking their reputations by returning to port without profit, and soon, the crew kills their first bull sperm whale.
Three months pass with no further successes, and Pollard realizes that the Atlantic Ocean holds no sighting of whales. The Essex sails past Cape Horn to the Pacific, hoping for better luck in catching one. In Atacames, Ecuador, the officers meet a Spanish captain who tells them his crew found the bountiful “Offshore Grounds” 2,000 miles to the west, but claims that a vengeful “white whale” destroyed his ship, killing six of his men..