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Manchester by the Sea (film)

Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by
Written by Kenneth Lonergan
Music by Lesley Barber
Cinematography Jody Lee Lipes
Edited by Jennifer Lame
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 23, 2016 (2016-01-23) (Sundance)
  • November 18, 2016 (2016-11-18) (United States)
Running time
137 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8.5 million[2]
Box office $72.5 million[3]

Manchester by the Sea is a 2016 American drama film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan and starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and Lucas Hedges. The plot follows a man who looks after his teenage nephew after his brother dies.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2016 and was soon picked up by Amazon Studios for distribution. It began a limited release on November 18, 2016, before going wide on December 16, 2016. The film has grossed over $72 million worldwide on an $8.5 million budget.

Manchester by the Sea received critical acclaim upon its release and was regarded as among the best films of 2016.[4] Critics praised in particular Affleck's performance, as well as Lonergan's direction and screenplay. At the 89th Academy Awards, the film received six nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), Best Supporting Actress (Williams) and Best Original Screenplay, winning for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and was nominated in four more categories.


Lee Chandler, a quiet janitor and handyman in Quincy, Massachusetts, lives a solitary life in a single basement room. As a handyman, he takes out garbage, does plumbing and a variety of other mundane tasks for the tenants he works for. He shows signs of low self esteem, being unable to recommend a small choice for a customer, and refusing to acknowledge two non-subtle womens' interest in him. After being reprimanded by his boss for swearing at an irritated tenant, he goes to a bar at night, proceeds to get drunk and start a fistfight with two businessmen who he thought were looking at him derisively.

The next morning, while handling remnants from a snowstorm, Lee receives word from George, a family friend, that his brother Joe has suffered a cardiac arrest. Joe dies before Lee can get to the hospital. Lee goes back to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea to break the news to Joe's teenage son, Patrick. Staying in Joe's home while arranging Joe's funeral, Lee is shocked to learn that Joe named him as Patrick's guardian. Reluctant to commit to the guardianship and unwilling to move back to Manchester, but opposed to returning Patrick to his estranged alcoholic mother, Lee makes plans for Patrick to move back to Boston with him. Patrick, deeply rooted in the Manchester community, objects to the idea.

It is shown through flashbacks that Lee once lived happily in Manchester with his wife Randi and their three young children, until he accidentally started a fire that killed his children. No criminal charges were filed against him, but Randi hated him for his mistake and they eventually divorced. At the station after being questioned, Lee attempted suicide by pulling a gun from a police officer's holster after being interviewed. He later moved to Boston, becoming bitter and isolated.

Joe's body needs to be kept in storage until spring when the ground thaws and he can be buried. Lee remains in Manchester until the delayed funeral. Over time, Patrick and Lee reestablish their bonds. Lee comes through when Patrick has a panic attack while rifling through the freezer, as he has been constantly bothered by the thought of his father lying in a freezer for several months. Conflict continues to arise when Lee refuses to make small talk with the mother of Patrick's girlfriend, Jill, so that Patrick and his 2nd girlfriend Sandy can have sex during a visit to Sandy's house. Patrick thinks Lee is trying to distance himself from him, especially because Lee is motivated by his desire to settle his affairs in Manchester in order to return to Boston.

Patrick secretly notifies his mother, Elise, of Joe's death by email, and she invites him to have lunch with her. Lee is strongly against communicating with Elise, and even hangs up on her when she tries to call, but Patrick informs Lee that she has changed, and found religion and sobriety with her new Christian fiancé, Jeffrey. Patrick insists on lunch and Lee grudgingly accepts. However, the lunch goes badly with Elise, Patrick, and Jeffrey all not knowing what to say, with Elise eventually escaping the situation, followed moments later by Jeffrey. Later Patrick gets an email from Jeffrey, who notifies Patrick that all communication to Elise must now go through him. Lee's positive comments about Elise's sobriety lead Patrick to believe that his uncle is trying to get rid of him, further straining their relationship. As a result, Lee takes steps to possibly extend his stay in Manchester.

Later Lee runs into a remarried, happy Randi, her newborn Dylan, and friend Rachel. She gets him alone and asks to have lunch with him, expressing remorse for her treatment of him during the divorce. She confesses that her heart is broken, and she knows his is broken too, and she feels so guilty now that she recovered from her loss and he still hasn't. Lee is still too afraid to connect, and declines the invitation, fleeing while Randi sobs. A drunk Lee expresses his rage by picking a fight with strangers at a bar and getting knocked down repeatedly, only to be rescued by George. Lee awakens at George's house and breaks down into tears.

Lee arranges for George and his wife to act as legal guardians for Patrick. When an emotional Patrick asks why Lee staying is not an option, Lee admits that he "can't beat it." Patrick knows exactly what he means and cries as Lee comes over to comfort him. During a walk after Joe's funeral, Lee tells Patrick that he is searching for a new residence with an extra room, so that Patrick can visit whenever he wants. In a final scene, Lee and Patrick go fishing on Joe's refurbished boat that Patrick has inherited.


Director Kenneth Lonergan appears briefly as a pedestrian.


On September 6, 2014, it was announced that Matt Damon would re-team with filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea. They had previously worked together on the 2011 film Margaret.[5] Originally, the film was going to be directed by Damon, but due to scheduling complications, Lonergan was set to direct instead, while Damon would stay involved as producer and lead actor. Lonergan later said that Damon and John Krasinski had brought the idea to Lonergan, and Krasinski was initially going to act in the film.[6] Gigi Pritzker was set to produce and finance the film through her company Odd Lot Entertainment.[5]

Pre-production began on September 8, 2014.[5] In early December 2014, while filming The Finest Hours, Casey Affleck revealed to The Boston Globe that he would replace Damon in the role of Lee Chandler.[7] Affleck officially replaced Damon on January 5, 2015.[8] Michelle Williams was added to the cast on January 9, 2015, as Lee Chandler's wife.[9]

In March 2015, it was reported that Sierra / Affinity had come aboard to finance the film, while Kimberly Steward would produce and finance through her company K Period Media, Kevin J. Walsh through his company B Story, Chris Moore through CMP, and Damon through his company Pearl Street Films. The film was executive produced by Josh Godfrey, John Krasinski, Declan Baldwin, and Bill Migliore; Pritzker was no longer attached to produce.[10] Kyle Chandler signed onto the film on February 24, 2015, cast as Affleck's character's older brother.[11] In April 2015, Lucas Hedges joined the cast of the film.[12] It was later revealed Erica McDermott had also joined the cast.[13]


The film takes place in New England.[11] Principal photography began on March 23, 2015, in the namesake town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.[14] On the second day, filming took place elsewhere on the North Shore, at locations in Beverly, Gloucester, Swampscott, Lynn, and Salem.[15]


The film had its world premiere on January 23, 2016, at the Sundance Film Festival.[16] Shortly after, Amazon Studios acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film for $10 million, beating out Sony Pictures Classics, Universal Pictures, Lionsgate, and Fox Searchlight.[17][18] This was the second largest disclosed purchase, behind The Birth of a Nation at $17.5 million.[19] Roadside Attractions, which Lionsgate owns, was later announced to be co-distributing the film with Amazon.[20]

The film was screened at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2016,[21] the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2016,[22][23] the New York Film Festival on October 1, 2016,[24][25] and the BFI London Film Festival on October 11, 2016.[26] The film was theatrically released on November 18, 2016.[27] The film was made available to stream on Amazon in the US on February 7, 2017.[28]


Box office

As of February 26, 2017, Manchester by the Sea has grossed $46.9 million in the United States and Canada and $20.5 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $67.4 million, against a production budget of $8.5 million.[3]

The film began a limited release on November 18, 2016, and grossed $256,498 from four theaters for the weekend, good for a per-theater average of $64,125. It began a wide release on December 16, 2016, opening against Rogue One and Collateral Beauty, and grossed $4.2 million, finishing 6th at the box office.[29]

Critical response

Manchester by the Sea received acclaim, with praise going to Lonergan's direction and screenplay and the performances of Affleck, Williams and Hedges. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 96%, based on 263 reviews, with an average rating of 8.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Manchester by the Sea delivers affecting drama populated by full-bodied characters, marking another strong step forward for writer-director Kenneth Lonergan."[30] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 96 out of 100, based on 52 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[31]

Matt Zoller Seitz of gave the film a positive review, stating, "While it's abundantly obvious that Lee is a devastated man still picking through the wreckage of a past life, the film takes its sweet time revealing the nature of the disaster that befell him."[32]

The American Film Institute selected it as one of its ten Movies of the Year.[33]


Manchester by the Sea received six nominations at the 89th Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), Best Supporting Actress (Williams) and Best Original Screenplay,[34] winning two for Best Original Screenplay for Lonergan and Best Actor for Affleck. It was the first-ever film released by a digital streaming service to be nominated for Best Picture.[35]

Affleck won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama; the film was nominated for four additional awards at the 74th ceremony: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (for Williams) and Best Screenplay.[36]

Manchester by the Sea received six nominations at the 70th British Academy Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Original Screenplay.[37] Affleck won Best Actor in a Leading Role and Lonergan won Best Original Screenplay.[38]


  1. ^ "Manchester by the Sea (15)". British Board of Film Classification. November 2, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ Lewis, Andy (November 24, 2016). "How Matt Damon's Almost-Directorial Debut 'Manchester by the Sea' Became Another Helmer's Comeback". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 29, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Manchester by the Sea (2016)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Best of 2016: Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. 
  5. ^ a b c Kit, Borys; Siegel, Tatiana (September 6, 2014). "Toronto: Matt Damon and Kenneth Lonergan Reteaming for 'Manchester-by-the-Sea' (Exclusive)". Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  6. ^ Fear, David (February 1, 2016). "How 'Manchester by the Sea' Became a Sundance 2016 Hit". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 12, 2016. 
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  8. ^ Ge, Linda (January 5, 2015). "Casey Affleck Replacing Matt Damon in Kenneth Lonergan's 'Manchester-by-the-Sea'". Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  9. ^ Kit, Borys (January 9, 2014). "Michelle Williams Joining Casey Affleck in 'Manchester-by-the-Sea' (Exclusive)". Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (January 29, 2015). "Berlin: Casey Affleck's 'Manchester-By-The-Sea' Locks Financing". Variety. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Rose, Lacey; Kit, Borys (February 24, 2015). "Kyle Chandler Joins Casey Affleck in 'Manchester-by-the-Sea' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  12. ^ Kilday, Gregg (April 9, 2015). "Lucas Hedges Joins Casey Affleck Starrer 'Manchester-by-the-Sea'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  13. ^ Jackson-Glidden, Brooke (2015-06-11). "Erica McDermott talks about her roles". The Boston Globe. 
  14. ^ Rapalyea, Taylor (March 24, 2015). "Damon's 'Manchester-by-the-Sea' begins production in namesake town". Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  15. ^ Luca, Dustin (March 24, 2015). "Freeze frame: Independent film 'Manchester-by-the-Sea' shooting in Beverly, North Shore". Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Manchester by The Sea". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  17. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (January 24, 2016). "Sundance Sensation 'Manchester By The Sea' Near $10M Amazon Deal". Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  18. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (January 24, 2016). "Sundance: Amazon Inks Huge Deal for 'Manchester by the Sea'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  19. ^ Hime, Nelly (February 4, 2016). "The Complete List of Movies Sold at Sundance 2016, and Why Amazon and Netflix Went All Out". Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  20. ^ Santer, Kristen (March 16, 2016). "Amazon Partners With Roadside Attractions for Awards Season Release of 'Manchester By the Sea'". Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  21. ^ Hammond, Pete (September 1, 2016). "Telluride Film Festival Lineup: 'Sully', 'La La Land', 'Arrival', 'Bleed For This' & More". Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Manchester by the Sea". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  23. ^ Nolfi, Joey (July 27, 2016). "Toronto Film Festival 2016: Magnificent Seven, La La Land to screen". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Manchester by the Sea". New York Film Festival. Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  25. ^ Cox, Gordon (August 9, 2016). "New York Film Festival Loads 2016 Main Slate With Festival-Circuit Favorites". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Manchester by the Sea". BFI London Film Festival. Retrieved September 3, 2016. 
  27. ^ Lang, Brent (March 16, 2016). "Amazon, Roadside Partner on 'Manchester by the Sea' Oscar Season Release (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved March 16, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Manchester By The Sea". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  29. ^ "'Rogue One' Flying To $152M+ Weekend; 'Collateral Beauty' A Career B.O. Low For Will Smith: PM Update". 
  30. ^ "Manchester by the Sea (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Manchester by the Sea". Metacritic. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  32. ^ Seitz, Matt (18 November 2016). "Lee is quiet, depressed, antisocial, a hard drinker,". Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  33. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 8, 2016). "AFI Awards: Best Of 2016 List Includes 'Silence', 'Hacksaw Ridge' & More". Archived from the original on January 16, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2016. 
  34. ^ "Oscars Nominations 2017: The Complete List of Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. January 24, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  35. ^ Jarvey, Natalie (January 24, 2017). "Oscars: Amazon Nabs Streaming's First Best Picture Nomination With 'Manchester by the Sea'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 25, 2017. 
  36. ^ Lee, Ashley (January 8, 2017). "Golden Globes: 'La La Land' Breaks Record for Most Wins by a Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 12, 2017. 
  37. ^ Ritman, Alex (January 9, 2017). "BAFTA Awards: 'La La Land' Leads Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 10, 2017. 
  38. ^ Mitchell, Robert (February 12, 2017). "'La La Land' Wins Top Prizes at BAFTA Awards in London". Variety. Retrieved February 12, 2017. 

External links