The Finest Hours (2016 film)

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The Finest Hours
The Finest Hours poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCraig Gillespie
Screenplay by
Based onThe Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue
by Michael J. Tougias
and Casey Sherman
Produced by
  • Jim Whitaker
  • Dorothy Aufiero
CinematographyJavier Aguirresarobe
Edited byTatiana S. Riegel
Music byCarter Burwell
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • January 25, 2016 (2016-01-25) (TCL Chinese Theatre)
  • January 29, 2016 (2016-01-29) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$70–80 million[4][5]
Box office$52.1 million[6]

The Finest Hours is a 2016 American action thriller film[7][8] directed by Craig Gillespie and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. The screenplay, written by Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, and Paul Tamasy, is based on The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman.[9] The film stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, and Eric Bana, and chronicles the historic 1952 United States Coast Guard rescue of the crew of SS Pendleton, after the ship split apart during a nor'easter off the New England coast.[10][11][12]

The Finest Hours was released in the Disney Digital 3D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D formats on January 29, 2016.[13] The film received mixed reviews from critics,[14] and was a box office flop, grossing just $52 million against its $70–80 million production budget.


Bernard "Bernie" Webber, a crewman at Coast Guard Station Chatham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, has fallen in love with a local girl, Miriam Pentinen. The two plan to marry on April 16, but in accordance with Coast Guard regulations, Bernie must seek permission from the station's commanding officer, Daniel Cluff, although it is usually just a formality. On the day he is due to ask permission, February 18, 1952, the oil tanker SS Pendleton shears in half off the Chatham coast after getting caught in a nor'easter. With the majority of the station's crew already underway with the rescue of the similarly damaged SS Fort Mercer, Bernie is dispatched to pilot motor lifeboat CG 36500 to rescue the crew of Pendleton. Andrew Fitzgerald, Ervin Maske, and Richard P. Livesey volunteer to join Bernie on the rescue mission.

Meanwhile, the Pendleton's engineer, Ray Sybert, as the surviving senior officer, organizes the surviving seamen to steer the sinking stern of the tanker onto a submerged reef, where it can lodge until rescuers arrive. Miriam learns that Bernie is leading the rescue effort and believes it to be a suicide mission. Few people in Chatham trust Cluff, believing him to be incapable of doing his job because he is not from the area. Miriam drives to the station, demanding that Cluff call Bernie back. Cluff refuses, and brusquely orders Miriam out.

Between Chatham Harbor and the open sea lies a bar, a series of shoals that are very dangerous even in good weather. Bernie must time bursts of his engine to ride each approaching wave before it breaks as he pilots CG 36500 across the bar. Although he makes it over the bar, he loses his compass.

Bernie steers CG 36500 to the stricken tanker. Although his boat's designated capacity is only 12 people, Bernie manages to rescue 32 crewmen. The stern of Pendleton begins sinking more rapidly during the rescue and goes down shortly after the last crewman comes aboard Bernie's boat. Relying on his knowledge of the coast and prevailing winds in place of his compass, Bernie steers CG 36500 toward home—a task made more difficult as Chatham loses power. Miriam and the other townspeople drive their cars to the pier and turn on their headlights to guide Bernie in.

The end of the film shows photographs from the event that briefly document the aftermath of the rescue. Two months later, Bernie and Miriam marry; they stay together for 58 years until Bernie's death in 2009. Bernie Webber and his crew receive the Gold Lifesaving Medal.



Walt Disney Pictures acquired the screen rights to Michael Tougias' 2009 book, The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue in August 2011.[11][24] Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson wrote the script based on the book and interviews they conducted with survivors.[11][25] In May 2013, Robert Schwentke was hired to direct the film.[26] However, Schwentke left the project to direct The Divergent Series: Insurgent, and was replaced with Craig Gillespie in April 2014.[15] Casting was done from April through October 2014.[27]

Principal photography began on September 8, 2014, in Quincy, Massachusetts.[28] On October 27, the film was being shot at Fore River Shipyard in Quincy aboard USS Salem.[29] They were also set to film at various South Shore locations and then move to Chatham, Massachusetts, in December.[29][30] In early December, filming was taking place in the town of Marshfield.[31] Affleck was seen playing piano at Symphony Hall in Boston on December 12, during the Chatham shoot,[32] and expressed to the Boston Globe that his experience shooting the film was "one of [his] best".[32] Production designer Michael Corenblith reproduced the interior of Pendleton.[33] Post-production lasted a year, with the film requiring nearly 1,000 visual effects shots.[5] Moving Picture Company (MPC) was responsible for creating the majority of those shots.[34]


Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures originally set The Finest Hours for release on April 15, 2016, and then October 9, 2015,[35] until announcing a final release date of January 29, 2016.[13] The first trailer for the film was released on July 8, 2015.[36] A second trailer was released on November 11, 2015.[37] The Finest Hours opened the Coronado Island Film Festival on January 15, 2016.[38] The film held its world premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, on January 25, 2016.[39] Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download on May 24, 2016.

Box office[edit]

The Finest Hours grossed $27.6 million in North America and $24.5 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $52.1 million.[6]

The film was released in North America on January 29, 2016, alongside Kung Fu Panda 3, Fifty Shades of Black, and Jane Got a Gun. The film was projected to gross $10–13 million from 3,143 theaters in its opening weekend.[40][41] The film grossed $375,000 from its Thursday night previews and $3.3 million on its first day.[42] It went on to gross $10.3 million in its opening weekend, finishing 4th at the box office.[43]

In March 2016, Variety reported Disney was expecting losses of around $75 million from the film.[44]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 64% based on 195 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's consensus states, "Old-fashioned to a fault, The Finest Hours will satisfy those seeking a traditional rescue drama – but may leave more adventurous viewers wanting more."[45] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 58 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[43]


The Finest Hours (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
ReleasedJanuary 29, 2016 (2016-01-29)
LabelWalt Disney
Carter Burwell chronology
The Finest Hours (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Hail, Caesar!

All music is composed by Carter Burwell, except as noted.[46].

1."Meeting Miriam"1:34
2."It's Starting to Snow"2:23
3."Pendleton Jump"1:59
4."Split" (unused[47])0:58
5."Lost Our Lights"1:26
6."You Don't Have to Come Back"2:16
7."I Hope You Didn't Kill Us"1:17
9."The 36500"1:39
10."The Bucket Line"1:47
11."That Man Shouldn't Have Sent Them"1:43
12."Crossing the Bar" (Composed by Carter Burwell & Philip Klein[48])4:31
13."Pendleton Push" (unused[47])2:31
14."We're All Alone" (unused[47])2:23
15."Four Men Lost"1:29
16."Rescue" (Composed by Carter Burwell and Philip Klein[48])5:03
17."Big Man, Big Sea" (unused[47])1:04
18."The Going Down" (unused[47])1:33
19."Safe Harbor"10:20
20."Haul Away Joe" (performed by Kodaline)3:32

Conducted by Carter Burwell. Performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony. Portions of Carter Burwell's score were replaced with music composed by Philip Klein, who had served as arranger on Burwell's score. Burwell chose to include two of Klein's tracks on the album. The album also includes five tracks that Burwell recorded, but which were replaced in the finished film.[47][49]


  1. ^ a b c "The Finest Hours". American Film Institute. Retrieved March 6, 2022.
  2. ^ Linden, Sheri (January 18, 2022). "'The Finest Hours': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  3. ^ "THE FINEST HOURS [2D] (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. January 18, 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  4. ^ FilmL.A. (May 2017). "2016 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. Feature Film Study. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  5. ^ a b McGrath, Charles (January 7, 2016). "'The Finest Hours' Relives a Perilous, Forgotten Rescue". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "The Finest Hours (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
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  10. ^ Barbo and Webster, pp 87-89
  11. ^ a b c Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 12, 2011). "Disney Acquires Coast Guard Rescue Saga 'The Finest Hours'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  12. ^ Dan Lamothe (July 13, 2015). "The real-life story behind Disney's forthcoming Coast Guard rescue movie, 'The Finest Hours'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 9, 2015. The daring rescue of those mariners is the subject of a forthcoming Disney movie, 'The Finest Hours.' The first trailer for the film was released last week, underscoring the bravery of the Coast Guardsmen involved in the Feb. 18, 1952, recovery.
  13. ^ a b Cunnigham, Todd (April 9, 2015). "Chris Pine Thriller 'The Finest Hours' Pushed to 2016 by Disney". TheWrap. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  14. ^ a b "The Finest Hours". Metacritic. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Kit, Borys (April 17, 2014). "Chris Pine in Talks to Star in Disney Coast Guard Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 6, 2014). "Casey Affleck In 'Finest Hours' Talks". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  17. ^ a b c Kroll, Justin (September 15, 2014). "Ben Foster Joins Chris Pine in Disney's 'Finest Hours' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  18. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 2, 2014). "Eric Bana Cast In 'The Finest Hours', Disney's Sea-Rescue Pic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  19. ^ a b Yamato, Jen (August 26, 2014). "'The Finest Hours' Adds 'Outlander's Graham McTavish". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Yamato, Jen (September 9, 2014). "Kyle Gallner Joins Disaster-At-Sea Drama 'The Finest Hours'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  21. ^ a b c d e "'Mother's Day' Adds Paul Wesley; More Join Disney's 'The Finest Hours'". Deadline Hollywood. September 25, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  22. ^ a b c d e "The Finest Hours: Press Kit" (PDF). The Walt Disney Studios. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (August 25, 2014). "'Dark Knight Rises' Actor Josh Stewart Joins Chris Pine in 'Finest Hours'". Variety. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  24. ^ Zakarin, Jordan (September 9, 2014). "Disney Sets Sail on Chris Pine Coast Guard Drama 'The Finest Hours'". TheWrap. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  25. ^ Graser, Marc; Kroll, Justin (September 20, 2012). "Tim Van Patten eyes 'Finest Hours'". Variety. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  26. ^ Han, Angie (May 29, 2013). "'Red' Director Robert Schwentke to Helm Disney's 'The Finest Hours'". /Film. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  27. ^ [15][16][17][18][19][20][21][23]
  28. ^ Gettell, Oliver (September 9, 2014). "Chris Pine Coast Guard thriller 'The Finest Hours' shoving off". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  29. ^ a b "More locations for filming of 'The Finest Hours' on Cape Cod". On Location Vacations. October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ Leggett, Doreen (October 3, 2014). "Disney filming scenes for 'The Finest Hours' in Chatham". Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  31. ^ "Wednesday, Dec. 3 Filming Locations for Forever, Madam Secretary, Sleepy Hollow, Empire, House of Lies, NCIS L.A., Hail Caesar!, Paper Towns, & more!". On Location Vacations. December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  32. ^ a b "'Finest Hours' is the finest shoot for Casey Affleck". The Boston Globe. December 12, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  33. ^ Turan, Kenneth (January 28, 2016). "'The Finest Hours' stares down the fiercest of storms without blinking". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  34. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (February 25, 2016). "PC Whips Up Stormy Seas for 'The Finest Hours'". Animation Magazine. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  35. ^ McNary, Dave (January 13, 2015). "Disney Sets Several 2016 Release Dates". Variety. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  36. ^ Petski, Denise (July 8, 2015). "'The Finest Hours' Trailer: Chris Pine At The Helm Of Harrowing Rescue Mission". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  37. ^ McNary, Dave (November 11, 2015). "Watch: Chris Pine Braves the Waves in 'Finest Hours' Trailer". Variety. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  38. ^ Galuppo, Mia (December 15, 2015). "Coronado Island Film Festival Unveils Opening, Closing Night Screenings". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
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  40. ^ "'Kung Fu Panda 3' Will Dig Box Office Out Of The Snow With $40M+ Opening – Preview". January 27, 2016.
  41. ^ McClintock, Pamela (January 29, 2016). "Box Office: 'Kung Fu Panda 3' Trouncing Competition on Friday for $45M Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
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  45. ^ "The Finest Hours (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  46. ^ "Walt Disney Records Set To Release 'The Finest Hours' Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Press release). PR Newswire. Burbank, California. January 28, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  47. ^ a b c d e f Simons, Pete (May 22, 2016). "The Finest Hours (Carter Burwell)". Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  48. ^ a b "The Finest Hours (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Carter Burwell on Apple Music". January 29, 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  49. ^ Burwell, Carter. "Carter Burwell — The Finest Hours". Retrieved November 11, 2017.
References used

Further reading[edit]

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