Seaworld Finally Admits That 'Blackfish' Hurt Profits and Attendance

Blackfish, the celebrated, award-winning documentary focussing on the captivity of Tilikum, an orca involved in the deaths of three individuals, and the consequences of keeping orcas in captivity, turned heads and raised awareness about the activities of businesses like Seaworld.

SeaworldSeaWorld's stock has plummeted since Blackfish [Getty/Matt Stroshane]

But, despite the damning evidence via interviews and scientific reports featured in the documentary, Seaworld insisted that neither profits or attendances were damaged by the release of the documentary. In fact, CEO Jim Atchison said in March that they even benefited from the piece. 

“As much as we’re asked that, we can see no noticeable impact on our business,” he said, calling assertions the company mistreats animals “a fundamental mischaracterization.” He added: “The movie in some ways has actually made perhaps more interest in marine mammal parks and actually even about us, so we’ve seen that reflected through certain visitor profiles and certain guest comments and things we get.”

More: read our 'Blackfish review'

But now, Seaworld have admitted, albeit indirectly, that the doc has in fact hurt them in a press release announcing their performance. The company, whose stock is plummeting by more than 20% today, blamed people taking a rain check on their parks on "recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California."

More: 'Blackfish' documentary: you'll never visit SeaWorld again

Expected revenues of $445m for the second quarter of the year were not met, only reaching $405m. “Until today’s report we were willing to . . . take SeaWorld’s word that there was no discernible impact,” said Tim Nollen of investment film Macquarie. “This report was notably worse than previous reports."

The film did have its critics, though. Orca trainers have come out fighting against the film, with former trainer Mark Simmons calling it a "crusade against SeaWorld and zoological care in general... engineered by a perfect marriage between sensational animal rights organizations and disgruntled ex-SeaWorld employees."

Watch the Blackfish trailer:


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