If SeaWorld executives thought the waters might be calming following the negative publicity from the documentary "Blackfish," they might want to start preparing now for next year's Hurricane Dory.
According to Ellen DeGeneres, who voices the lead character in Pixar's "Finding Dory," one of the film's main themes will be about helping marine life –– and then returning them to their homes in the ocean.
“I think that fish should be in the ocean,” she recently told Yahoo! Movies. “It’s what this whole sequel is about: It’s about rehabilitation and putting them back in the ocean… And we have to protect our oceans. Hopefully that discussion starts with this film, because we really need to protect that environment.”
This is bad news for SeaWorld and other marine parks and wonderful news for anyone who is disagrees with marine captivity. It's also quite the reversal when you consider that the original ending to "Finding Dory" took place in a marine park. That all changed after "Blackfish" Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite screened the film for Pixar executives in early 2013.
“At the end of the [Pixar] movie, some marine mammals are sent to an aquatic park/rehab facility — a SeaWorld-type environment,” Director Louie Psihoyos, who heard about the meeting through a friend in the animal rights movement, told the LA Times. “After seeing ‘Blackfish,’ they retooled the film so that the sea creatures now have the choice to leave that marine park. They told Gabriela they didn’t want to look back on this film in 50 years and have it be their ‘Song of the South.'"
Instead of a marine park, Pixar President Jim Morris confirmed late last year that the film will now be based at the animal-friendly Marine Biology Institute of California. "Dory learns that there she was born and raised and was released in the ocean still young,” he added.
Earlier this month, citing continuing "brand challenges," SeaWorld reported a 2 percent drop in attendance over last year's numbers and an 85 percent decrease in net income to $5.8 million. Activists have long argued that the marine park should embrace a future as a rehabilitation center that releases its animals back into the wild or into specially designed ocean pens.
"The orcas can be retired and rehabilitated in these pens," PETA told NewTimes last year, "which can be used by the park as a sort of virtual-reality marine-mammal experience for attendees without making the orcas suffer."
Look for "Finding Dory" to throw a big wave of support towards this solution next June.