Trailer Debut for SeaWorld Exposé ‘Blackfish’

Editors Note: Mike has asked for permission to share this here. I’m allowing it because everyone needs to make up their own mind about SeaWorld’s role in animal care and conservation and more data is almost always better than less data. The movie ‘Blackfish’ is a biased one-sided look at that role. I’ve tried here on the blog to report honestly about the tragic incident surrounding Tilikum and the park’s ongoing fight against OSHA.

My personal beliefs are that it is best for SeaWorld to continue its efforts to train Killer Whales to both learn more about them and to educate people around the globe to the wonder of the species and the risks facing them in the wild. If SeaWorld was forced to end this practice many animals would suffer and die needlessly. While a life of captivity is not the same as living freely in the ocean, it is not ‘slavery’ as the animal rights groups portray it. It is a life of care and attention that can extend life and reduce the chances of awful death at the hands of a poacher or starvation, while also contributing to a common good. That a few animals are selected or bred for this is a good thing in my book, because the common good is served and no actual harm is done to the animals.

Blackfish_documentary_bannerThe first trailer for Blackfish is up at Apple’s iTunes Movie Trailers page. The upcoming documentary from Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films is centered on the story of Tilikum, the orca that killed three people while in captivity, most recently in 2010 at SeaWorld Orlando.

With the tagline “Never Capture What You Can’t Control”, Blackfish does not purport to be objective or balanced; it is intended to be an indictment of the practices at SeaWorld and other marine parks that keep captive “killer whales”. The film is getting strongly positive reviews from critics, with Indiewire proclaiming that it “ensures you’ll never go to SeaWorld again”.

While I happen to agree with the premise of Blackfish and similar documentaries like The Cove—that the captivity of intelligent aquatic animals is a cruel and dangerous business—it is only one side of the argument and, of course, others disagree. But I’m sure everyone can agree it’s a discussion worth having. (SeaWorld, which is one of Disney Parks’ biggest competitors, declined to comment for the documentary.)

Blackfish opens in theatres on July 19 and is rated PG-13 for “mature thematic elements including disturbing and violent images”. It is expected to see its cable debut on CNN sometime this fall.

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About Mike Bastoli

Mike Bastoli has been blogging at The Disney Blog since 2009. Until 2011, he covered Pixar Animation Studios on his own website, The Pixar Blog, which became one of the most popular on the Web dedicated to Pixar news, the New York Times calling it the “definitive unofficial chronicler of the animation powerhouse". In 2011, Mike expanded his coverage to the entire world of feature animation, renaming his site Big Screen Animation. He retired Big Screen Animation in 2014 and is considering future writing opportunities. Besides Disney, Mike is an avid fan of Apple and The Beatles. He resides near Toronto.
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5 Responses to Trailer Debut for SeaWorld Exposé ‘Blackfish’

  1. JPatton says:

    Yes, it is a discussion worth having. And now is the time to have it. Since the death of Dawn Brancheau in 2010 information has come out from behind-the-scenes that I don’t think was available before.

    This is an issue that requires a little effort and some research to understand. Many people visit SeaWorld and observe that the water looks clean and the animals look well-fed and conclude that all is well.

    All is not well. Four people have been killed by captive orcas—two of the four at SeaWorld Orlando.

    In her September, 2011 report titled, “Killer Controversy: Why Orcas Should No Longer be Kept in Captivity,” Dr. Naomi Rose wrote:

    “Unlike the mis-education perpetuated by the highly profitable aquaria, studies have shown the life expectancies of killer whales in captivity are well below those of their wild counterparts. Despite industry claims of advancements in veterinary care, nutrition and husbandry techniques, killer whales fare much better in the wild… even with the man-made decimation of their habitats.”

    We give more thought to how much it costs to park our car at SeaWorld than to what price the animals pay to entertain us.

    I’m appreciative of Gabriela Cowperthwaite and her film Blackfish for starting the conversation in a big way. I can’t wait to see this movie.

  2. OCGuy says:

    I’m sorry, but propaganda films like this do not spur the right dialogue. They stir unwarranted anger and bias out of ignorance as they gloss over the facts. I’m not saying that Sea World is 100% innocent, but the writer of this blog hit the nail on the head when said that places like Sea World do, for the most part, take the care seriously with their marine life and try to educate the public in a smart way of how these are amazing creatures and how we need to all be diligent in taking care of them in the wild.

    I hate when self-righteous film-makers report to make a movie to try and push an agenda and use images and unsubstantiated claims to play on the minds of our already low-informed, undereducated public at large who will eat this garbage up and then formulate opinions that are not based on fact but someone’s warped agenda.

    I hope this film has a quick and immediate death at the box office.

  3. Mike Bastoli says:

    Yes, the film has a viewpoint. The whole idea is to hopefully change people’s minds on the issue. How can you call something “garbage” when you haven’t even seen it?

  4. Pingback: ‘Blackfish’ an Eye-Opening Look at Orca Captivity | The Disney Blog

  5. David says:

    The film is not one-side as the creators attempted numerous times to get Sea World’s side of the story from Sea World representatives, but they consistently ignored them.

    Profiting off of the exploitation of animals is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Take a look at circuses for example: circuses that use animals are being slowly banned across the world. If any of you have seen Cirque De Soleil–you know circuses can be very entertaining without animals!

Comments are closed.