Local 6 Theme World blog:UPDATE - films on Disney & SeaWorld's darker side

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January 23, 2013

UPDATE From Sundance:

Magnolia Pictures & CNN Films have together bought distribution rights to Blackfish.

Look for a theatrical release this summer on the anti-SeaWorld documentary, and for broadcast on CNN late this year.

Quoting from the press release:

"Blackfish is one of the most exciting, compulsively watchable documentaries that we've seen in a long time," said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. "Gabriela Cowperthwaite has made a beautiful, eye-opening film that sticks with audiences for a long time."

"At CNN Films we want to showcase compelling documentary storytelling that also sheds new light on important social and cultural issues. Gabriela Cowperthwaite's beautiful and moving film ‘Blackfish' is at once an investigation into the people and practices of the marine park industry and a thought-provoking meditation on the limits of man's ability to manipulate nature. We look forward to presenting this fascinating film to our audience," said CNN Worldwide Managing Editor, Mark Whitaker.


January 21, 2013

Two darker films have debuted that our theme parks wish would go away.

Good Monday. This weekend, about 2,300 miles away from the City Beautiful, two films debuted that will have lawyers and PR folks from Disney and SeaWorld working overtime.

Disclaimer: I have not seen either film yet, but look forward to seeing them for myself. So far, only a couple of thousand of people at Sundance Film Festival have.

 But the internet and news outlets are buzzing over "Escape From Tomorrow" and "Blackfish."

"Blackfish" is a documentary on SeaWorld's treatment of its signature Killer Whales, centered around the death of Dawn Brancheau in 2010 -- and featuring interviews with former trainers and a ship's captain who, the filmmakers say, helped capture the first Orca babies for SeaWorld in 1970. From the quotes I've read, it's not a pretty story.  
Now -- to be fair to SeaWorld leaders -- who were not interviewed for the film -- the field of marine biology, and understanding of Orcas and other marine mammals has advanced by leaps and bounds since 1970, in no small part because of research of by and for SeaWorld. That said -- one quote from the movie sticks with me: "Try spending most of your life in a bathtub...See if it doesn't make you a little psychotic."

I can't find a trailer, but here's an interview with the director/producer.

and the page on the film from Sundance Film Festival

The other film making headlines  "Escape From Tomorrow" is far from a documentary. From the trailer, it seems like a borderline horror story about a father going insane on vacation with his family.

What's unusual? It was shot almost completely at Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Epcot & Disneyland in California, and Disney iconography, characters, rides and landmarks are all over the film.
Here's a link to the trailer 
Trouble is, the filmmakers shot it on a DSLR camera without any permission from Disney.  Wow. Talk about a legal landmine.  Anti-whales-in-captivity movies are nothing new. Blackfish could very easily be distributed soon to art house theaters and the like.  Woe to the distributor that wants to try and get the legal rights to show a disturbing film shot illegally on Disney property.  I haven't seen it. "Escape from Tomorrow" could be absolutely brilliant.

But Disney lawyers will, no doubt, be pouncing on the movie poster alone.

Disney is relentless in protecting its image, copyrights and trademarks.
I'll be surprised if the film ends up little more than a calling card for the director to get hired for another film.   Though it could end up out there on illegal movie download sites pretty easily.
We'll see how Disney responds. So far, they have not commented to Local 6.

Here's links to previous Theme World blog posts: January 2013 | December 2012

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