Louie Psihoyos has harsh words for the animal theme park and its chances for survival in the wake of the documentary
Despite weathering criticism after ‘The Cove’ for their role in marine life exploitation, do you think SeaWorld was fully prepared for the PR storm ‘Blackfish’ would create?
Blackfish totally blinded SeaWorld. In fact, Gabriela’s film terrorized the CEO so much he immediately began dumping shares of his SeaWorld stock. So did Blackstone, the parent company of the amusement park. SeaWorld’s investors know the jig is up.
'Blackfish' appears to have reached critical mass in terms of exposure (CNN, Netflix) a lot faster than 'The Cove.' In your view, how has the world changed since your film first pulled back the curtain on Japan’s dolphin hunt?
In Japan, “The Cove” helped cut down the consumption of dolphins by about two-thirds and children there are no longer being force fed toxic dolphin meat for school lunch programs. Because of “The Cove,” there are tens of thousands of kids in Japan who will not be poisoned and their parents will not know our names, but I know we did a huge public service to Japan whether they acknowledged it or not. Our team still has arrest warrants out for us there. Several countries have banned the sale of wild dolphins for dolphin shows. We made some headway internationally by setting the stage, but “Blackfish” certainly has had an unprecedented impact on consciousness by their television roll-out. They reached 20 million viewers with 14 airings.
If those people had paid to see the film in theaters, “Blackfish” would have nearly doubled the highest grossing doc of all time. Because of “Blackfish,” the movement has now reached a cultural tipping point — to go back now would be like trying to redact the laws against apartheid or not allowing women to vote. The genie is out of the bottle and there is no way to put it back in.