×

SeaWorld: Killer Whale Doc ‘Blackfish’ Is ‘Inaccurate’

Controversial Magnolia film opens Friday

SeaWorld has issued a statement calling Magnolia Pictures’ killer whale documentary “Blackfish,” which opens Friday, “inaccurate and misleading.”

The marine park spoke to ABC News, which plans a “Nightline” segment on the controversy Friday night.

The documentary is the story of bull orca whale Tilikum, has been associated with the deaths of three people, including experienced Sea World Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was pulled into the tank and killed in 2010. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the docu contends that these deaths could have been prevented by not confining the whale in captivity.

“’Blackfish’ goes even further than 2008′s Oscar-winning “The Cove” to launch a direct attack on Sea World and the practice of keeping marine mammals in captivity,” said Justin Chang’s review in Variety.

“There is no documented case of a killer whale ever killing anybody in the wild. It’s only in captivity where these incidents have happened,” Cowperthwaite told ABC.

SeaWorld representatives declined to be interviewed in the documentary. “The impression the film leaves is of a deep-pocketed institution that, for all its claims of humane and professional treatment, tolerates practices that are fundamentally at odds with the animals’ well-being and refuses to accept any portion of responsibility,” said Variety’s review.

“‘Blackfish’ is billed as a documentary, but instead of a fair and balanced treatment of a complex subject, the film is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy that remains a source of deep pain for Dawn Brancheau’s family, friends and colleagues,” SeaWorld’s statement said.

Tilikum has been associated with three of the four deaths involving killer whales in captivity. Although OSHA investigated after Brancheau’s death and began requiring SeaWorld to keep trainers behind barriers, the park has appealed the decision, saying OSHA has a fundamental misunderstanding of how to work around orcas. Tilikum continues to perform at SeaWorld Orlando.

SeaWorld’s full statement continued, “To promote its bias that killer whales should not be maintained in a zoological setting, the film paints a distorted picture that withholds from viewers key facts about SeaWorld – among them, that SeaWorld is one of the world’s most respected zoological institutions, that SeaWorld rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild hundreds of wild animals every year, and that SeaWorld commits millions of dollars annually to conservation and scientific research. Perhaps most important, the film fails to mention SeaWorld’s commitment to the safety of its team members and guests and to the care and welfare of its animals, as demonstrated by the company’s continual refinement and improvement to its killer whale facilities, equipment and procedures both before and after the death of Dawn Brancheau.”

Cowperthwaite has called for SeaWorld to take more of an educational role, rather than a operate a “circus-like” environment. Magnolia opens the docu at four locations in New York and Los Angeles Friday.

More Film

  • 'The Current War' Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch,

    Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult Feud in 'The Current War' Trailer (Watch)

    101 Studios has released an official new trailer for the Martin Scorcese-produced thriller, “The Current War,”  offering a glimpse into the dramatic 19th century battle over electricity that became known as the “war of the currents.” The film, which is a dramatization of real-life events, will follow the tumultuous journey of Thomas Edison, played by [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Oscars: 31 Upcoming Films That Could Enter the Awards Race

    The year reaches the halfway mark on June 30, and traditionally films from the first six months have an uphill battle in the Oscar race. However, this year’s January-June crop might get a boost from the accelerated schedule: Nominations voting is a tight Jan. 2-Jan. 7, 2020. So if voters start their homework now, early [...]

  • Yesterday Movie Danny Boyle

    Danny Boyle on 'Yesterday,' Leaving 'Bond 25' and Why the Beatles Still Rock

    Danny Boyle would like to reintroduce you to the Beatles. The iconic foursome certainly needs no introduction, but in his movie “Yesterday,” which debuts June 28, the director envisions a word where nobody has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That is, nobody besides Jack Malik. When the struggling songwriter, portrayed by newcomer Himesh [...]

  • Svensk Filmindustri SF Studios logo

    Warner Bros, SF Studios Expand Distribution Deal Across Scandinavia

    Warner Bros. Pictures has expanded its distribution deal with SF Studios to include Sweden and have their movies released by the Nordic major through all of Scandinavia. Warner Bros. Pictures already has a distribution pact with SF Studios in Denmark, Norway and Finland. Under the partnership, SF Studios has been handling the sales, marketing and [...]

  • Nicole Kidman Meryl Streep

    Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman to Star in Ryan Murphy's 'The Prom' at Netflix

    Ryan Murphy enlisted a star-studded cast for his upcoming Netflix movie “The Prom,” an adaptation of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Awkwafina, James Corden, Ariana Grande, Keegan-Michael Key and Andrew Rannells are among the A-listers bringing “The Prom” to screens. “The Prom” follows a lesbian student in the fictional conservative town of [...]

  • Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova Join Vaclav

    Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova Join Václav Havel Biopic

    Viktor Dvorak has been cast in “Havel,” a biopic of Václav Havel, as the Czech playwright, dissident and national leader. Anna Geislerova, who starred in Oscar nominated “Zelary,” plays his wife, Olga Havlova. Jiri Bartoska, the president of Karlovy Vary Film Festival, will appear in the film as “Professor,” inspired by Czech philosopher Jan Patocka. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content