Big Miracle

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This article is about the film. For the book, see Big Miracle (book).
Big Miracle
Big Miracle Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Produced by Steve Golin
Michael Sugar
Tim Bevan
Liza Chasin
Eric Fellner
Screenplay by Jack Amiel
Michael Begler
Based on Freeing the Whales
by Tom Rose
Starring Drew Barrymore
John Krasinski
Kristen Bell
Dermot Mulroney
Tim Blake Nelson
Vinessa Shaw
Ted Danson
Music by Cliff Eidelman
Cinematography John Bailey
Edited by Cara Silverman
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • February 3, 2012 (2012-02-03) (United States)
  • February 10, 2012 (2012-02-10) (United Kingdom)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $40 million[1]
Box office $24.7 million

Big Miracle is a 2012 British-American drama film directed by Ken Kwapis, and stars Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski. The film is based on Tom Rose's 1989 book Freeing the Whales, which covers Operation Breakthrough, the 1988 international effort to rescue gray whales trapped in ice near Point Barrow, Alaska.


In small town Alaska, Adam Carlson a news reporter recruits his ex-girlfriend Rachel – a Greenpeace volunteer – on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. Adam names the adult whales Fred and Wilma, and the infant Bamm-Bamm.

Drawn into the collaborative rescue work are several normally hostile factions: Inupiat whale hunters, a Greenpeace environmental activist, an oil executive, ambitious news reporters, the National Guard, the American president and politicians on the state, national and international levels. Also joining in the effort are two entrepreneurs from Minnesota, who provide de-icing machines to help keep the hole open.

Finally an enormous Soviet ice-breaker ship arrives to remove the last barrier before the whales die. The ship's first attempt doesn't work and leaves only a dent. The ice is finally broken and the adult whales Fred and Wilma escape the ice. Sadly, the infant whale Bamm-Bamm dies from injuries and does not surface again.

In the epilogue narrated by Nathan reveals that McGraw used his new reputation to uphold a contract to clean up the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Karl and Dean's de-icers made them local celebrities, Scott and Kelly were married, Jill worked her way up to a national news network, Greenpeace membership became more prominent, Adam confesses his love for Rachel and she returns his affections and they share a kiss, Adam got to stay being a news anchor, and both Nathan and Malik became closer to one another, and Nathan recalls about the hole in which the whales were first found and quotes "It kept getting bigger and bigger, until it let the whole world in."

In a post-credits scene Fred and Wilma swim away free in the ocean.



Warner Bros. bought the screenplay by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler in April 2009, and in the following June, Kwapis was attached to direct.[7] In September 2010, with Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski cast in the starring roles, filming began in Seward. It had a production budget of $30 or 40 million. The crew constructed sets in Anchorage to resemble places in Barrow during the whale rescue. Filming lasted for 10 weeks.[8] The film's working title was Everybody Loves Whales, which is a line still heard in the film. Visual effects on Big Miracle were created by Rhythm and Hues Studios and Modus FX. Burger King promoted the movie with toys. The MPAA has rated this film PG for language.

The red-and-black Soviet icebreaker in the movie is modeled after real world Arktika-class nuclear-powered icebreaker which is considerably larger than the diesel-electric icebreaker used in the actual rescue effort, the 1975-built Admiral Makarov. In shots which include live footage of the 2007-built 50 Let Pobedy, the blue-and-white polar bear logo of the former operator of the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet, Murmansk Shipping Company, is clearly visible but the atom symbol on the hull as well as the name of the vessel has been airbrushed out.


The film received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film currently holds a rating of 74% based on 95 reviews. The site's consensus was: "Big Miracle uses real-life events as the basis for a surprisingly satisfying family drama."[9] Metacritic currently holds a score of 61 based on 28 reviews.[10] The film opened with $2,267,385 on its opening day, ranking at No. 4 behind Chronicle, The Woman in Black, and The Grey at the box office.[11] The film grossed $7,760,205 on its opening weekend and remained at the same spot.[12] On its second weekend the film dropped to #8, with $3,946,050.[13] The film closed its run on April 5, 2012, with $24,719,215 worldwide as a box office bomb.


Further reading[edit]

  • Rose, Tom (1989). Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World's Greatest Non-Event. Carol Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-1-55972-011-3. 

External links[edit]