Directed by: J. A. Bayona
Written by: Sergio G. Sánchez; Story by María Belón
Produced by: Álvaro Augustin, Belen Atienza, Enrique López Lavigne
Other cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor
Release date: 11 October 2012
Premiere date: 9 September 2012
Genre: Drama, disaster
Running time: 113 minutes
The Impossible tells story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
English doctor Maria Bennett, her husband Henry Bennett, and their three sons Lucas, Thomas, and Simon go on a Christmas holiday in 2004 to Khao Lak, Thailand. Arriving on Christmas Eve, they settle in and begin to enjoy the brand new Orchid Beach Resort. Two days later on Boxing Day, the massive 2004 tsunami inundates the area.
Maria and Lucas eventually emerge from the swirling water and find one another, with Maria having sustained serious injuries to her leg and chest. They help a toddler, Daniel, from the wreckage and are soon found by locals who dress and transfer them to a hospital in the city of Takua Pa. Daniel is separated from them during the journey. At the hospital, Maria encourages Lucas to help others find their family members while she goes into surgery for her chest injuries.
Meanwhile, Henry, Thomas, and Simon have also survived and are together. Henry leaves the two boys with another family who are then taken to the mountains for safety by local relief crews. Henry stays behind to search for Maria and Lucas in the resort’s rubble. While out looking, injured and alone, he is picked up by a passer-by and driven to a nearby bus station with other survivors. Communication facilities are scarce, but a European tourist named Karl, who has also been separated from his family, lends Henry his cell phone to contact his relatives in England. Henry promises Maria’s father he will look everywhere for his family and that he will find them. Karl volunteers to accompany Henry to look for Maria and Lucas as well as his own family, who were at the beach when the tsunami hit.
While Maria is in surgery, her medical chart is mixed-up with a patient named Muriel Barnes, who has died. Lucas returns to find his mother’s bed empty and is then taken to a tent where children without families are kept safe. The mistake is discovered when Lucas cannot identify any of the dead woman’s jewelry and he is subsequently reunited with his mother, who had been moved to a private room in the ICU. While he waits in the hospital, Lucas finds Daniel, who has been reunited with his father.
Henry and Karl search for their families in various places before they arrive at the hospital, where Henry is given five minutes to look. Karl gives him a piece of paper with the names of his family members. A vehicle carrying Thomas and Simon also stops outside the hospital, and the boys get off so Simon can urinate. From a distance, Lucas recognizes his father, and while searching for him in the chaotic crowd outside, Lucas’s brothers spot him and they reunite. Henry finds the three of them together. He learns that Maria is in the hospital, ready to undergo more surgery for her leg. As the anesthesia puts her to sleep, Maria experiences flashbacks of how she came to be injured and how she surfaced the water. While in surgery, Lucas tells his father he has something really important to tell Maria.
The following day, the family boards an ambulance airplane to Singapore so Maria may receive further medical treatment. A representative from their insurance company, Zurich Insurance, assures them everything will be taken care of as Lucas sees countless people outside the hospital looking through patient lists. On the plane, Lucas tells his mother that Daniel is safe with his father. Maria cries and looks out the window at the chaos left behind as the plane takes off.
A co-production of Spanish film companies Apaches Entertainment and Telecinco Cinema, the film employed much of the crew from The Orphanage, including the director, writer, production manager, cinematographer, composer, and editor. The Impossible was filmed between the Ciudad de la Luz studio in Alacant (Spain) on August 23, before moving to Thailand in October 2010.
After a full-length English language trailer was released on August 20, 2012, a U.S. release date of December 21, 2012 was confirmed by Summit. It was released on October 11, 2012 in Spain and in Ireland, and in the United Kingdom on January 1, 2013.
It was released on home video in the United States and Canada on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, with the European release date of May 13, 2013 following.
The Impossible would become a box office success. In Spain, the film opened in 638 cinemas and grossed $11,569,306 in its opening weekend, ranking number one with a per-cinema average of $18,134, the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film in Spain. In its second weekend, the film remained at number one and grossed an additional $9,016,065, a per-cinema average of $14,022. In its third weekend, it remained at number one and made $5,768,184 with a per-cinema average of $9,098. The film ended up earning $54,536,668 at the Spanish box office and $180,274,123 worldwide, compared to its $45 million production budget.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 81%, with an average rating of 7.32/10.
Director Juan Antonio Bayona decided not to specify the nationalities of the main characters in order to create a universal film in which nationalities were irrelevant to the plot.
Many of the extras were actual survivors of the tsunami.
The film takes place from December 24 to December 27, 2004.
An earlier draft of the script started in Japan.