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Blackfish (2013) More at IMDbPro »

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Blackfish -- Killer whales are beloved, majestic, friendly giants, yet infamous for their capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of the notorious performing whale Tilikum, who -- unlike any orca in the wild -- has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. Blackfish expands on the discussion of keeping such ...
Blackfish -- Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top animal trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.


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Up 5% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite (written by) &
Eli B. Despres (written by) ...
View company contact information for Blackfish on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
18 October 2013 (Iceland) See more »
Never capture what you can't control.
A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for BAFTA Film Award. Another 12 wins & 30 nominations See more »
(252 articles)
User Reviews:
Hearing a harsh critique of SeaWorld only seems right coming from the people it meant the most to. See more (152 total) »


  (in credits order)
Tilikum ... Himself (archive footage)
John Hargrove ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
Samantha Berg ... Herself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
Mark Simmons ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer

Kim Ashdown ... Herself
Dean Gomersall ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer

James Earl Jones ... Himself (archive footage)
Shamu ... Himself (archive footage)
Carol Ray ... Herself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
John Jett ... Himself - Fomer SeaWorld Trainer
Dawn Brancheau ... Herself - SeaWorld Trainer (archive footage)

Jeffrey Ventre ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
Thomas Tobin ... Himself (also archive footage)
Dave Duffus ... Himself - OSHA Expert Witness, Whale Researcher
Jim Payne ... Himself (archive footage)
Martha Sugalski ... Herself (archive footage)

Whoopi Goldberg ... Herself (archive footage)
David Kirby ... Himself (archive footage)

Anderson Cooper ... Himself (archive footage)
John Crowe ... Himself - Diver
Howard Garrett ... Himself - Orca Researcher
Eric Walters ... Himself - Former Trainer, Sealand
Ken Balcomb ... Himself - Director, Center for Whale Research
Steve Huxter ... Himself - Former Director, Sealand
Christopher Porter ... Himself - Former Trainer, Sealand
Kelty Burn ... Herself (archive footage)
Corinne Cowell ... Herself
Nadien Kallen ... Herself
Lori Marino ... Herself - Neuroscientist
Kelly Clark ... Herself - SeaWorld Head Trainer (archive footage)
John Black ... Himself - OSHA Attorney (archive sound)
Ken Welsch ... Himself - Jusge (archive sound)
Katina ... Herself (archive footage)
Kalina ... Herself (archive footage)
Kasatka ... Herself (archive footage)
Takara ... Herself
Kandu ... Herself (archive footage)
Corky ... Herself (archive footage)
John Sillick ... Himself - SeaWorld Trainer (archive footage)
Tamarie Tollison ... Herself (archive footage)
Orkid ... Herself (archive footage)
Splash ... Herself (archive footage)
Robin Sheets ... Himself (archive footage)

Meredith Vieira ... Herself (archive footage)
Ken Peters ... Himself - SeaWorld Trainer (archive footage)
Daniel Dukes ... Himself (archive footage) (as Daniel P. Dukes)
Estefania Rodriguez ... Herself
Alexis Martinez ... Himself - Loro Parque Trainer (archive footage)
Suzanne Allee ... Herself - Former Video Supervisor, Loro Parque
Mercedes Martinez ... Herself - Alexis' Mother
Valerie Dratch ... Herself - Witness (archive footage)
Jim Solomons ... Himself - Spokesman, Orange County Sheriff's Office (archive footage)
Thad Lacinak ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Executive (archive footage)
Dave McDaniel ... Himself - Reporter (archive footage)
Chuck Tompkins ... Himself (archive footage)
Jeff Andrews ... Himself - SeaWorld Expert Witness (archive footage)
Diane Brancheau ... Herself - Dawn Brancheau's Sister
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Gabriela Cowperthwaite ... Herself - Director (uncredited)

Directed by
Gabriela Cowperthwaite 
Writing credits
Gabriela Cowperthwaite (written by) &
Eli B. Despres (written by) (as Eli Despres)

Tim Zimmermann (co-writer)

Produced by
Judy Bart .... executive producer
Rick Brookwell .... executive producer
Gabriela Cowperthwaite .... producer
Erica Kahn .... executive producer
Manny Oteyza .... producer (as Manuel V. Oteyza)
Tim Zimmermann .... associate producer
Original Music by
Jeff Beal 
Cinematography by
Jonathan Ingalls 
Chris Towey  (as Christopher Towey)
Film Editing by
Eli B. Despres  (as Eli Despres)
Gabriela Cowperthwaite (uncredited)
Production Management
David A. Davidson .... post-production supervisor
Sim T. Davidson .... post-production producer
Manny Oteyza .... unit production manager (as Manuel V. Oteyza)
Art Department
Syd Garon .... graphics
Sound Department
Shawn Coffman .... additional sound recordist
Jonathan Ingalls .... additional sound recordist
Henry Moyerman .... assistant sound editor
Craig Plachy .... sound re-recording mixer
Jeff Stone .... location sound
Vince Tennant .... sound supervisor
John Warrin .... sound effects editor (as John Warren)
C.J. Carpenter .... dialogue editor (uncredited)
John Warrin .... sound designer (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Angela Bernardoni .... additional camera: San Juan Island
Redd Claiborne .... additional camera: Atlanta
Sara Hoff .... additional camera: Orlando
Zoe Morrison .... still photographer
Xavier Ramirez .... archive footage
Animation Department
Gary Breslin .... animation creative director: ODD-NY
Tim Case .... animation executive producer: ODD-NY
Charles Salice .... animation executive producer: ODD-NY (as Charles V. Salice)
Matthew Turke .... animation head of production: ODD-NY
Editorial Department
Elisa Bonora .... additional editing
David A. Davidson .... colorist
David A. Davidson .... on-line editor
Andrew Jewell .... assistant on-line editor
Matthaeus Szumanski .... assistant editor
Yasu Tsuji .... assistant on-line editor
Chad Wilson .... assistant on-line editor
Music Department
Alisha Bauer .... musician: cello
Jeff Beal .... conductor
Jeff Beal .... music producer
Jeff Beal .... musician: bass
Jeff Beal .... musician: piano, trumpet
Chris Bleth .... musician: woodwinds (as Chris Bieth)
Briana Brandy .... musician: viola
Jennifer Choi-Fisher .... musician: violin
Samuel Fischer .... musician: violin (as Sam Fischer)
Larry Greenfield .... musician: violin
Thomas Harte .... musician: bass (as Tom Harte)
Cheryl Kim .... musician: violin
Songa Lee .... musician: violin
Jason Lippman .... musician: cello
David Low .... musician: cello
Luke Maurer .... musician: viola
David Mergen .... musician: cello
Neli Nikolaeva .... musician: violin
Grace Oh .... musician: violin
Aaron Oltman .... musician: viola
Jeff Richman .... musician: guitar
Mark Robertson .... musician: violin
Rodney Wirtz .... musician: viola
David Low .... orchestra contractor (uncredited)
Mark Robertson .... concertmaster (uncredited)
Christopher Ward .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Other crew
Dan Braun .... distribution advisor: Submarine Entertainment
Josh Braun .... distribution advisor: Submarine Entertainment
Lisa Callif .... clearance counsel
Dean R. Cheley .... clearance counsel
Shawn Coffman .... production assistant
Syd Garon .... title designer
Martin Guigui .... financing consultant
John Martin .... legal counsel
Luis Romero .... poster/web designer
Christine Towey .... production assistant
Dahlia Waingort .... financing consultant
Jordan Waltz .... researcher/archivalist
Deborah Frogameni .... special thanks
Colleen Gorman .... special thanks
Robert Messinger .... special thanks
Lara Pozzatto .... special thanks
Nancy Slokker .... special thanks
Jan Van Twillert .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing and violent images
83 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Jurassic World director Colin Treverrow told Empire Magazine that Blackfish was a big influence on the movie. The behaviour of the captive Indominus Rex, was based on Tilikum's behaviour in captivity.See more »
John Hargrove:Those are not your whales. Ya know, you love them, and you think, I'm the one that touches them, feeds them, keeps them alive, gives them the care that they need. They're NOT your whales. They own them!See more »
Movie Connections:


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147 out of 163 people found the following review useful.
Hearing a harsh critique of SeaWorld only seems right coming from the people it meant the most to., 20 July 2013
Author: thejoshl from Toronto, ON

Without a doubt Blackfish is one of the most horrific theatre experiences you'll have this year. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite presents a very carefully constructed case on the effects of inhumane treatment of Orcas in captivity. The one-sided argument is that the untimely human deaths caused by captive Orcas were not their fault but rather the fault of their captors; SeaWorld, and the evidence proving this point is so disturbing and so shockingly obvious that it's no wonder SeaWorld refused to be interviewed.

The story centers on Tilikum, a 12,000 lbs. Orca that is directly responsible for the death of 3 people, including Dawn Brancheau the former senior trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando. The film explores the reasoning behind the likely "psychosis" Tilikum has experienced in captivity, and the disgusting cover up executives have tried to make.

While SeaWorld naturally refused to be interviewed, the films perspective mostly derives from former trainers/employees of SeaWorld and other various experts. Their experience working with Orcas - most having dedicated their lives to it - is truly heart breaking. Presenting the theory, the evidence and finally a solution to the topic at hand, Blackfish is a marvellous story that will have you as tearful as the trainers that sincerely care for the well being of the creatures.

Blackfish doesn't just show a bunch of disgruntled former employees bashing SeaWorld either. The greatest technique employed in this film is its use of footage from shows featuring these trainers when they were younger. There's something so mesmerizing about watching the smiling young trainers play with their best friend while hearing their older self reminisce in voice over. Hearing a harsh critique of SeaWorld only seems right coming from the people it meant the most to.

While we've always known Orca's are intelligent creatures Cowperthwaite dedicates a lot of the film to demonstrating their capacity for emotions as well; watching them over time build connections with their trainers and each other. So by the time they show us their capture and captivity and witness the pain felt the whales, Tilikum especially, we know that their violent behavior is a direct result of SeaWorld. Killer Whales having never harmed a human in the wild.

I want to go through every point made by the movie but I won't. You need to see this for yourselves. The facts aren't what drive this film, the emotion behind them do. This is one of those movies you just won't stop talking about, and for the subject matter that's the best compliment it can receive. In the end sharing this information is what's going to help these Orcas.

Between the gripping footage and the distressing stories Blackfish effectively proves its point. There are very few movies like this; a must-see. There is no way after seeing this movie that you'll ever want to go to SeaWorld again, and for the sake of the animals that's the only thing we can do for them. Since it's made quite clear; the only thing affecting their decision-making is: how many Shamu dolls and tickets they've sold.

Our Rating:10/10

Let me know on Twitter @thejoshl what you thought of Blackfish!

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Blackfish (2013)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
SeaWorlds opinion vs Real Life coreyc1984
3 whales die in six months at houston sea world libby2130
Where's the incentive for sea world? geoffmasterplan
Nadine Kallen - Why is she smiling at the whole time???? SarahMerussai
you guys make me sick hapathy
It's not a lie just because there's a profiting defender. TIMELORD2001
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