Saturday, December 21, 2013

Blackfish Controversy Makes Waves at SeaWorld

Posted By on Sat, Dec 21, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Sometimes movies matter.

This past August, in anticipation of its debut on Boise movie screens, Boise Weekly first told you about Blackfish, a real-life horror story which "blows the lids off holding tanks where killer whales are penned in for our enjoyment." In our review, we called the "soul-ratting" film a must-see (FYI, in the upcoming issue of BW, Blackfish is among our list of the best films of 2013).

But on Dec. 20, SeaWorld ran a series of full-page ads across the nation in response to the film. According to a long list of former SeaWorld employees who participated in the filming of Blackfish, killer whale attacks on SeaWorld workers continued for years; and when the attacks were reported in the media, SeaWorld laid the blame on the employee in almost every instance.

The powerful documentary has thus far inspired eight musical acts—including Martina McBride, Willie Nelson and Bare Naked Ladies—to cancel future performances at SeaWorld. Several cited the Blackfish film as their reason for canceling.

But in an open letter than ran in The New York Times and seven other major newspapers, SeaWold defended its care of whales, saying, "Inaccurate reports recently have generated questions about SeaWorld and the animals in our care. The truth is in our parks and people."

Meanwhile, the publicity hasn't hurt SeaWorld's bottom line... yet. CBS News reported this morning that SeaWorld was on track for $1.5 billion in ticket sales for 2013.


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