×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Actors With Disabilities Deserve a Hollywood

    Dreaming of a Hollywood Ending for Actors With Disabilities (Guest Column)

    Picture a world in which an actor with a disability wins an Academy Award. Sadly, that storyline remains no more than a Hollywood fantasy. In recent years, the #OscarsSoWhite trending hashtag campaign has shed light on the lack of diversity in the movie industry. Yet ahead of this year’s Oscars on Feb. 24, society’s definition [...]

  • Clark Gable III

    Clark Gable's Grandson, Who Hosted 'Cheaters,' Found Dead at 30

    Clark Gable’s grandson, Clark Gable III, died on Friday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Variety confirmed with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office. He was 30. “It’s is with an extremely heavy heart we say goodbye to my beautiful son Clark,” his mother wrote on Instagram. “He passed this morning. I will always [...]

  • You Were Never Really Here If

    Film Independent's Spirit Awards Fly the Flag for Indie Film

    As the 2018 awards season marches slowly into its final days, only a handful of honors remain undistributed after some of the most volatile and contentious campaigns in years. Front-runners have come and gone in one major category after the next, as each guild and critics group announced different winners than its predecessors, demolishing expectations [...]

  • A Quiet Place

    John Krasinski Returning to Direct 'A Quiet Place' Sequel

    John Krasinski is returning to direct the untitled sequel to Paramount’s horror hit “A Quiet Place.” Krasinski revealed the news Friday via an Instagram post that said “…time to go back. #PartII 5-15-20”; the post showed the red lights that became synonymous with the alien threats in the first movie. “A Quiet Place” starred Krasinski, Emily [...]

  • Red Carpet Guide to the Bowtie

    Five Tips to a Perfect Bow Tie on Oscar Night

    Warren Alfie Baker is always on the hunt for just the right bow tie. He’s a Hollywood stylist who helps keep such clients as Lucas Hedges, Norman Reedus and Harry Shum Jr. looking sharp. “It seems like the easiest thing to sort out, but so many mistakes can be made,” Baker tells Variety. And the [...]

  • Francois Ozon's 'The Grace Of God'

    Francois Ozon's 'By The Grace Of God' Delivers Strong B.O. Opening in France

    Rolling off its triumph at the Berlin Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear, François Ozon’s Catholic church sexual abuse drama By “The Grace Of God” had a strong theatrical bow in France where it sold nearly 50,000 tickets on 290 screens on Feb. 20, its first day out One of the best opening [...]

  • David Oyelowo Peter Rabbit 2

    David Oyelowo Joins the Cast of Sony's 'Peter Rabbit' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)

    Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo is set to join the cast of Sony Pictures’ “Peter Rabbit 2,” the live-action hybrid sequel to the 2018 family hit, sources tell Variety. He joins Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson, who are returning from the first film, as is James Corden in the voice of the mischievous Peter Rabbit. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content