Shannon Plumb, the wife of The Light Between Oceans director Derek Cianfrance, published an essay this week responding to negative reviews of the film, arguing critics broke the movie’s embargo and cost The Light Between Oceans “a couple million dollars” at the box office.
The Light Between Oceans, which stars Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender, premiered earlier this month at the Venice Film Festival, and in her essay, Plumb denounces the critics who published negative reviews before the film’s official premiere.
“There was an embargo on reviewing the movie,” Plumb wrote. “No one was supposed to post a review until a few hours before its premiere. But there were five reviews up, one by Variety, and it was two more days till the premiere. The critics had broken the embargo. They were testing their words like North Korea testing atomic bombs. ‘Look what I can do,’ they seemed to say.”
Plumb, who directed 2013’s Towheads, also wrote that Cianfrance felt “like someone stomped on [his] brain” after the negative reviews, adding that The Light Between Oceans “probably lost a couple million dollars in its first weekend” due to the early negative buzz.
Oceans opened over Labor Day weekend to an underwhelming $4.8 million over three days. Through Sept. 15, it has made $10.4 million domestically.
She also argues that the primarily male critics dismissed the film as a “weepie,” “chick flick,” or “melodrama.”
“Did these critics have an allergy to vulnerability?” Plumb wrote. “Maybe hankies are out of fashion, but what about an emotional cleanse? Some of us long to sit in a theater and eat our popcorn and feel all that we can feel, like a sponge in a protected reef. … If a romance film like this doesn’t do well, the chances of making other films like it will die. The critics are killing off genres like hunters with the dodo bird. A lot of us love dodos.”
Read Plumb’s full essay here.