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SeaWorld Investors Rejoice Over 'Blackfish' Oscar Snub

Tilikum.jpg
Tilikum the murderous orca in a scene from Blackfish (Photo by Suzanne Allee courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)
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The Oscar nominations appear to be really great news for one company: SeaWorld.

The documentary Blackfish, which takes SeaWorld to task for its treatment of orcas, generated a lot of buzz this year and inspired some high-profile activism. But The Academy snubbed the film in the Best Documentary category.

The New York Times' Dealbook blog noticed that something interesting happened today on an otherwise humdrum day for SeaWorld in January: the stock surged 8.39 percent to a level higher than it's been since August. Dealbook wrote, "it’s not a stretch to suggest that the Oscar snub was fueling the stock’s rise."

SeaWorld went public in April, but when the documentary was released in July, the company's stock slumped to just a few dollars above its IPO. The slump likely wasn't just due to the documentary: the company had also seen a slump in attendance before the documentary came out and it had lowered ticket sales in response. Still, though the company's response to the documentary was slow at first, it became aggressive. SeaWorld chief executive James D. Atchison denied that the film had affected the company. He recently told Bloomberg TV that Blackfish "hasn’t affected our performance or results."

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The film focuses on the story of an orca named Tilikum, who killed a trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld's location in Orlando. The film makes the case that keeping orcas in captivity is bad for the animals and it puts the trainers at risk. As a part of its campaign, the company released a list of eight objections to the film.

One 12-year-old activist inspired by the film jumped the barricade at the Macy's Parade to protest SeaWorld's float, and she did the same thing when a SeaWorld float made an appearance at the Rose Parade.