"Soul Surfer," rated PG, is being released April 8th and stars AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany Hamilton, Dennis Quaid as Tom Hamilton, Helen Hunt as Cheri Hamilton, Carrie Underwood as Sarah Hill, Jeremy Sumpter as Byron Blanchard, Ross Thomas as Noah Hamilton, Lorraine Nicholson as Alana Blanchard and Kevin Sorbo as Holt Blanchard. Directed by Sean McNamara. Soul Surfer (2011) is a Drama, Kids/Family, Adaptation, Biopic, Action, Adventure, Fitness, Teen and Sports movie and the film distributed by TriStar Pictures/FilmDistrict. Bethany was born to surf. A natural talent who took to the waves at a young age, she was leading an idyllic, sun-drenched, surfer girl's life on the Kauai Coast, competing in national competitions with her best friend Alana, when everything changed in a heartbeat. On Halloween morning, Bethany was on a typical ocean outing when a 14-foot tiger shark came out of nowhere and seemed to shatter all her dreams. In the moving aftermath of this headline-making story, Bethany fights to recover and grapples with the future. Strengthened by the love of her parents, Tom and Cheri, she refuses to give in or give up, and begins a bold return to the water. Still, the questions keep hammering her: Why did this happen? Why did she have to lose everything? Will she ever feel the joy and power of riding the waves again? And if she can't be a surfer, then who is she? The devastating 2004 tsunami in the Pacific Ocean unexpectedly gives Bethany a new perspective. Traveling to Phuket, Thailand with her youth-group leader Sara Hill, she witnesses life beyond her own shoreline and discovers her greater purpose--she can make a difference in the lives of others. Filled with a new sense of hope and direction, she returns home with a renewed resolve to conquer her own limitations and set an encouraging example for people facing adversity. At the National Championships, Bethany bravely faces off with her fiercest rival, Malia Birch, and takes her astonishing one-armed surfing technique to the limit. But as the horn blows, and the suspenseful competition kicks off, Bethany is no longer thinking about the challenges of her body. Now, her surfing, her biggest dreams and her life have become about pushing her own physical limits to touch the souls of others. Watch Soul Surfer (2011) movie free stream online.
Soul Surfer is directed by Sean McNamara and is based on the 2004 biography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. The book and the film are based on the real-life experience of Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm as a result of a shark attack while she was surfing. She was 13 years old when she was attacked on October 31, 2003. Though she lost her arm, she was motivated to resume surfing and was able to compete in a major surfing competition on January 10, 2004, finishing fifth. Her story of recovering from the attack became widespread, and her family faced multiple media opportunities.
Shortly after the incident and the media attention, the father of Bethany's friends Chantilly and Tiffany, Roy "Dutch" Hofstetter, became the Hamilton family's media manager. Hofstetter in February 2004 envisioned a film based on Bethany's experience, provisionally titled The Bethany Hamilton Story. Bethany published her biographical book Soul Surfer in 2004, and BBC reported that a film about her life was scheduled to begin filming in January 2005. Production did not begin as anticipated, and Time reported in July 2006 that production was scheduled for later in the year. Variety reported that the project at one point had an investment of $7.5 million and the backing of Peter Schlessel, a Sony Pictures executive.
Though production had not begun by the end of 2006, in January 2007 Sean McNamara was announced to be directing the biographical film. While Hamilton had a series of surfing successes, turning pro in 2007, McNamara and producer David Brookwell sought more material for the film. The book was considered "a straightforward account" that was targeted to Christian readers, so the filmmakers met with the Hamilton family to determine if there were any unpublished conflicts that could be highlighted in the film. They discovered that the incident had strained the family, that family members questioned their Christian faith, and that Bethany Hamilton struggled with her physical appearance and how boys would perceive her. The media attention on the family was described by Brookwell as "a second shark attack" that had made their lives uncomfortably public.
McNamara and Brookwell spent several years raising money for production. The director wrote an adapted screenplay with Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz and Deborah Schwartz. Additional writing was performed by Ron Bass, Jen Smolka and Kara Holden. Before the film entered production, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired distribution rights for North America and most other territories. The production companies Mandalay Vision, Brookwell McNamara Entertainment and Life's a Beach Entertainment collaborated for the production, with Enticing Entertainment and Island Film Group providing financing. In February 2010, McNamara cast numerous actors into roles for Soul Surfer. AnnaSophia Robb was cast as Bethany Hamilton, and Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt were cast as Bethany's parents. Singer Carrie Underwood, in her feature film debut, was cast as a church youth leader. Filming began the same month in Hawaii. Principal photography and second-unit aerial work took place for 40 days; cinematographer John R. Leonetti shot on 35mm film. During filming, Robb wore a green sleeve on her arm so visual effects could be included later. Though McNamara was editing the film by May 2010, additional filming took place in August 2010 in Tahiti. During post-production, the VFX company Engine House worked on 450 arm-removal shots, digitally inserting a stump in place of Robb's green sleeve. Ultimately, the film's budget exceeded $15 million.
In July 2010, USA Today reported Soul Surfer as one of several faith-based films similar to The Blind Side being produced in Hollywood; other films included Get Low, Like Dandelion Dust, and Jumping the Broom. In September 2010, the company FilmDistrict was launched, and the company formed a partnership with TriStar Pictures to release Soul Surfer. FilmDistrict originally committed to release the film at 300 theaters, but when executives saw the final product, they invested $26 million in a print and advertising commitment with the goal of releasing Soul Surfer in 2,000 theaters.
Prior to the film's commercial release, it was screened for religious leaders. A scene in which Dennis Quaid's character reads the Bible in the hospital at his daughter's bedside had the words "Holy Bible" digitally removed from the cover. Bethany Hamilton's father said that David Zelon, an executive at Mandalay Pictures, lobbied to reduce the Soul Surfer's Christian elements so the film could appeal more to non-Christian audiences. The Hamilton family objected, and the words "Holy Bible" were restored in the scene in a follow-up screening. Another debatable scene was one in which Carrie Underwood's character, a church youth leader, quotes Christian scripture. While those involved with the film were fine with the verse, they did not want the scene to explicitly indicate that its origin was the Bible. Their stance was challenged, and the scene indicates the verse being from the Bible. The Hollywood Reporter cited the dust-up as an example of Hollywood learning to appeal to the faith-based community while still attracting secular audiences. The Blind Side, which accomplished both, had grossed $256 million in the United States and Canada.
The film is scheduled to be released on April 8, 2011.