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Movie about mistreatment of whales hurts place that mistreats whales

Blackfish, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary about the mistreatment of an orca whale held in captivity by SeaWorld, made an impact far beyond the walls of movie theaters after it was released last year. Several high-profile music acts canceled shows at SeaWorld locations. Both New York and California proposed bills that would protect whales in captivity. And Pixar reportedly changed the ending of the upcoming sequel to Finding Nemo, so that it wouldn’t paint aquatic parks in a positive light. Meanwhile, SeaWorld itself has had an ever-evolving response to the film—first denying that anything was wrong, then trying to discredit it in a bargain to get patrons to visit their parks, and finally, accepting that the movie probably hurt its bottom line.

That admission came by way of a press release that projected dramatically reduced yearly revenues for 2014. The release never actually mentions Blackfish by name, only saying that “the Company believes attendance… was impacted by demand pressures related to recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California.” The bill in question—which was proposed in response to Blackfish and would outlaw holding orcas in captivity or using them for entertainment purposes—has been set aside to vote on another day. If the backlash over Blackfish continues and the bill is passed, SeaWorld may soon have to look elsewhere for attractions, perhaps by finding a way to make jellyfish interesting.


[via New York Magazine]

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