The film was released in the United States and Canada on 3 February 2012 to generally positive reviews, and was released in the United Kingdom on 10 February 2012.
In an English village, Crythin Gifford, in 1889, three young girls are having a tea party. They suddenly look up at something off-screen and, as though possessed, jump to their deaths from the bedroom window.
In Edwardian era London 1916, the wife of lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) dies in childbirth. Kipps is instructed to visit Crythin Gifford to orchestrate the sale of Eel Marsh House, an estate on the marshland, and retrieve any relevant documents left by the deceased owner Alice Drablow. Upon arrival, Arthur finds many of the villagers rather unwelcoming, though he finds sympathy in a wealthy local landowner Samuel Daily (Ciarán Hinds).
The next morning, Arthur goes to meet his legal contact, Mr. Jerome , who tries to hurry him away from the village. Arthur, undeterred, travels to Eel Marsh. There, he is distracted by odd noises, a bolted nursery, and the appearance of a spectral entity in funerary garb. He hears sounds on the marshes of a carriage in distress and a screaming child, but sees nobody on the causeway. He later attempts to alert the village constable, who dismisses him. Two children enter the station with their sister Victoria, who has ingested lye, but she subsequently dies.
That night, Sam reveals that he and his wife Elisabeth (Janet McTeer) lost their young son to drowning. Elisabeth suffers from fits of hysteria, which she attributes to her boy speaking through her. When Sam attempts to drive Arthur to Eel Marsh the next day, a fleet of local men attempt to drive him off. Victoria's father blames Arthur for his daughter's death, as Arthur saw "that woman" at Eel Marsh.
At the house, Arthur uncovers correspondence between Alice and her sister Jennet Humfrye (Liz White). In her letters, Jennet denies Alice's verdict that she is "mentally unfit" to take care of her son, Nathaniel, and demands to see him, as the Drablows have formally adopted him, and barred her from contact. A death certificate reveals that Nathaniel drowned in a carriage accident on the marsh. Jennet blames Alice for saving only herself and leaving Nathaniel's body in the marsh. Jennet hangs herself in the nursery, vowing never to forgive Alice. Arthur also sees visions of dead children in the marshes, Victoria among them.
Arthur finds the nursery no longer locked. Inside, he sees the Woman in Black hanging herself. In town, Jerome's house catches fire with his daughter still inside. When Arthur attempts to save her, he sees the Woman in Black goading the girl into immolating herself. The townspeople blame Arthur for this death as well.
At her son's grave, Elisabeth tells Arthur that the Woman in Black is Jennet, who claims the village children by having them take their lives in penance for her own son being taken. Arthur realizes that his son Joseph, who is coming to Crythin Gifford that night, is Jennet's next victim. In an effort to lift the curse, Arthur and Sam find Nathaniel's body in the marsh, and place it in his nursery, where Arthur lures Jennet to him. Arthur and Sam bury Nathaniel with Jennet, though her voice echoes through the house that she will never forgive the wrongs she suffered.
Assuming Jennet pacified, Arthur and his son Joseph meet at the railway station. While bidding farewell to Sam, Arthur sees the Woman in Black lure Joseph onto the tracks towards an oncoming train. Though he attempts to save him, both Arthur and Joseph are killed by the oncoming train while a horrified Sam sees the spirits of the village children, and the Woman in Black.
After the train passes, Joseph spots a woman in white on the tracks, and Arthur identifies her as his late wife Stella, the family now happily reunited, as the Woman in Black looks ominously on.Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer
Ciarán Hinds as Sam Daily, local landowner
Janet McTeer as Elizabeth Daily, Daily's wife
Liz White as Jennet Humfrye, the Woman in Black
Roger Allam as Mr. Bentley, senior partner of Arthur's firm
Tim McMullan as Jerome, the local solicitor
Jessica Raine as Joseph's nanny
Daniel Cerqueira as Keckwick, the carriage driver
Shaun Dooley as Fisher, village innkeeper
Mary Stockley as Mrs Fisher
David Burke as PC Collins, village constable
Sophie Stuckey as Stella Kipps, Arthur's wife
Misha Handley as Joseph Kipps, Arthur's son
Aoife Doherty as Lucy Jerome, Jerome's daughter
Victor McGuire as Gerald Hardy, a villager
Alexia Osborne as Victoria Hardy, Hardy's daughter
Alisa Khazanova as Alice Drablow
Ashley Foster as Nathaniel, the Woman in Black's son
Sidney Johnston as Nicholas Daily, Daily's son
Liz White's character is never referred to as "The Woman in Black" inside the film or during the credits, where she is listed as "Jennet".
The film was announced in 2009, with Jane Goldman as screenwriter and later James Watkins as director. Daniel Radcliffe was announced as the actor playing the part of Arthur Kipps on 19 July 2010. Two months later, it was announced that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 co-star Ciarán Hinds would join Radcliffe along with Janet McTeer as Mr and Mrs Daily respectively. Before filming, Radcliffe saw a psychologist so he could better understand his character. The part of Joseph Kipps was played by Misha Handley, who is Radcliffe's real life godson.
The film was planned to be shot in 3D, but the idea was later scrapped. Principal photography officially started on 26 September 2010. The next day, Radcliffe was pictured in costume just outside Peterborough, England. In early October the crew was filming in Layer Marney Tower. Filming officially ended on 4 December 2010.
The exterior shots of Eel Marsh House were filmed at Cotterstock Hall near Oundle in central England. The fictional Nine Lives Causeway leading to it was filmed at Osea Island in Essex. The village of Crythin Gifford was filmed at Halton Gill, north of Settle in the Yorkshire Dales.
At the Kapow! Comic Con in London during April 2011, director James Watkins confirmed filming had been completed in December 2010 and post-production would go on until June 2011. For its British release, several changes were made in order to qualify for a 12A certificate: Momentum Theatrical, the distributor, arranged to have six seconds cut and for changes to other shots, with some scenes darkened and the sound level reduced on some others.
Despite the cuts, the 12A certificate was seen as highly controversial in the United Kingdom, and the British Board of Film Classification received 134 complaints from individuals that the rating was too low, the most complained-about film of 2012 according to BBFC figures. A cinematic re-release in October 2014, including a short clip from the forthcoming sequel The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, was given a higher rating of 15.
The soundtrack for the film was composed by American film composer Marco Beltrami. It received positive reviews and was released as a soundtrack album on 12 March 2012 by Silva Screen Records.
All music composed by Marco Beltrami.
The Woman in Black was met with generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 66%, based on 174 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Traditional to a fault, The Woman in Black forwent gore for chills—although it may not provide enough of them for viewers attuned to modern, high-stakes horror." On Metacritic the film has a score of 62 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
During opening weekend, The Woman in Black earned $20 million, the biggest US opening for a Hammer film in all of Hammer history, putting it at second place in the box office, behind Chronicle, which earned about $1 million more. This is significantly more than the $11–$16.5 million industry analysts predicted it would bring in. As of June 2012, The Woman in Black has made $127,730,736 worldwide. The film also became the highest-grossing British horror film in 20 years.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 18 June 2012 in the United Kingdom, and was released in the United States on 22 May 2012.
In April 2012, Hammer Films announced that there would be a sequel to The Woman in Black, which is titled The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. The official plot synopsis is: "During World War II, the London bombings force schoolteachers Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) and Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) to evacuate a group of children to Crythin Gifford. When the refugees take shelter at Eel Marsh House, Eve soon comes to realize that they are not alone. The longer they remain there, the more the house's evil spirit threatens the children. With the help of a pilot (Jeremy Irvine), Eve tries to protect the children and uncover the truth of the Woman in Black."
The original novel's author Susan Hill helped with the story, with the screenplay written by Jon Croker. In October 2012, Tom Harper was announced as the film's director. In April 2013, it was announced that Jeremy Irvine will play the lead role with rumors of Daniel Radcliffe briefly reprising his role from the first film, however Radcliffe ultimately did not appear in the sequel. It has also been announced that Phoebe Fox and Helen McCrory have been cast in the film as well. The film began the shooting process in early 2014.
The film was released on 2 January 2015 to moderate box office returns but a generally negative critical response.