Blackfish Blows Up

Former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove talks killer whale's with HBO's Bill Maher.
Former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove talks killer whale’s with HBO’s Bill Maher.

It’s been a big week, with Blackfish opening last night in LA and NYC. And I guess it was getting enough notice as the open approached that the suits at SeaWorld, or corporate owner Blackstone, got twitchy. After mostly ignoring Blackfish for the past few months and I guess hoping it wouldn’t get much public notice, SeaWorld hired PR firm 42 West to lead a campaign to blast the film. I analyze how that’s going over at Outside:

But now, with Blackfish getting good buzz and opening tonight in New York and Los Angeles (as well as in many other US cities and abroad in coming weeks), the billion-dollar theme park hasbroken its virtual silence on the film and has belatedly started to fight. In an e-mail blast to film critics last weekend that called Blackfish “shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate” (you can read SeaWorld’s complaints, and the Blackfishresponses, here) and in interviews with ABC News and the New York Times, SeaWorld is doing what it can to try to inoculate audiences and the public against the critical portrayal of how SeaWorld over the years has managed Tilikum and its captive orca entertainment business.

The challenge for SeaWorld’s PR effort, even though its e-mail broadside quoted Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s well-known aphorism on opinion and fact—“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts”—is that the facts are not really on SeaWorld’s side.

SeaWorld’s attack on Blackfish has generated so much media that I can’t come close to keeping up with the Google alerts. But if you want a sense of what sort of critical reception Blackfish is receiving, Rotten Tomatoes has a compilation of reviews.


5 thoughts on “Blackfish Blows Up”

  1. I commented on your piece at Outside Magazine, but I just wanted to swing by and say KUDOS. That preview gave me the chills. Orcas are so magical, and I hope this movie brings to light the fact that they should never be in captivity. I also really hope the movie makes it to Ketchikan, Alaska!

  2. Seen Blackfish three times now. I have posted comments about it (almost to the point of spamming) on my Facebook page. Like “The Cove” before it, I am evangelical about this film and I am more than happy to spread the word.

    I only wish I knew how many copies it had sold on DVD, so that some measurement of public awareness penetration could be gauged.

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