A recounting of a New England whaling ship's sinking by a giant whale in 1820, an experience that later inspired the great novel Moby-Dick.


Ron Howard


Charles Leavitt (screenplay), Charles Leavitt (story) | 3 more credits »
1,660 ( 212)
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris Hemsworth ... Owen Chase
Benjamin Walker ... George Pollard
Cillian Murphy ... Matthew Joy
Brendan Gleeson ... Tom Nickerson
Ben Whishaw ... Herman Melville
Michelle Fairley ... Mrs. Nickerson
Tom Holland ... Thomas Nickerson
Paul Anderson ... Caleb Chappel
Frank Dillane ... Henry Coffin
Joseph Mawle ... Benjamin Lawrence
Edward Ashley ... Barzillai Ray
Sam Keeley ... Ramsdell
Osy Ikhile ... Richard Peterson
Gary Beadle ... William Bond
Jamie Sives ... Cole


In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. "In the Heart of the Sea" reveals the encounter's harrowing aftermath, as the ship's surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Based on the incredible true story that inspired Moby-Dick See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and peril, brief startling violence, and thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Scored at the London's famous Abbey Road Studios. See more »


Near the end of the film, subtitles reference the title of Melville's novel as "Moby Dick" (with no hyphen). The actual title of the novel is "Moby-Dick; or, The Whale" so even with the customary shortening, the title is "Moby-Dick" (with a hyphen). See more »


[first lines]
Herman Melville: [in his letter] How does one come to know the unknowable? What faculties must a man possess? Since it was discovered that whale oil could light our cities in ways never achieved before, it created global demand. It has pushed man to venture further and further into the deep blue unknown. We know not its depths, nor the host of creatures that live there. Monsters. Are they real?
[a huge whale passes]
Herman Melville: Or do the stories exist only to make us respect the sea's dark secrets?
Title Card: NANTUCKET ...
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User Reviews

Inspired Moby Dick, but is no Moby Dick, but it is visually effective.
12 December 2015 | by subxerogravitySee all my reviews

Based on the story that inspired Moby Dick, its novelist, Herman Melville seeks out the survivor of the Whaling ship Essex to have him tell the tale of the white whale they encountered.

I heard In the heart of the Sea was not action packed enough. It sounded like the best and only action sequences could be found in the trailer, but that was not the case at all. I found it pretty jammed packed with big adventure. From director Ron Howard showing us how to sail a ship, to the epic standoff between man and the world's largest mammal. They even get into how a whale is hunted and then gutted for oil, which won't make any PETA supporters happy.

I would say the real issue is that since they are advertising the movie as the story that inspired Moby Dick, you would expect more whale than we actually got. The survivor telling the tale, Thomas Nickerson (played by Brendan Gleeson as an old man and Tom Holland as a Young one) began his story by telling us it was about the Captain and his first officer (played by Chris Hemsworth), and for the most part the movie was about how these two different men, from different social classes operate a ship.

What I was most impressed with is that it was worth the IMAX 3D ticket. In the Heart of the Sea has so many fantastic visuals, and not just the eye candy that is Chris Hemsworth who was made to look quite heroic in the picture (or maybe I just could not get his image of Thor out of my head). A lot of the imagery was grim to give a realistic look at what it was like to be a sailor in the 1800s, it was brilliant cinematography.

And the story that was told was very complete. I think I learned far too much about the political process and corruption of the whaling industry, back in the day, which is interesting, but does have the story lingering longer than you would expect.

Overall, I'm impressed with the second effort Ron Howard and Chris Hemmisworth team up for after Rush.

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Release Date:

11 December 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Heart of the Sea See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »


Box Office


$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,053,366, 13 December 2015

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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