Proof That Movies Change the World (SeaWorld, That Is)
The terrific documentary Blackfish premiered at Sundance in 2013 and ignited public debate over SeaWorld and captive killer whales. From the date I'm publishing this, December 20, 2014, here's the last year of the stock price of SEAS, SeaWorld Entertainment:
Hmm, what are these sudden drops? The overall trend clearly shows that Shamu and co. have seen better years. But that's what Blackfish is about — that these wild animals are much better off in the wild, and that they suffer terribly when forced to play the role of five-ton circus clowns (along with putting their trainers at risk). What this chart makes clear is that the publicly-traded company that owns Shamu and co, SeaWorld Entertainment, has seen better years... with those better years coming before Blackfish was released. Roberto A. Ferdman of The Washington Post made this chart showing key moments related to the release of the film:
The "corrective disclosure" mentioned in the chart above, clearly responsible for the largest drop in stock price, took place on August 13, 2013, when SeaWorld issued a press release reporting a nine-percent drop in attendance, admitting it was caused by the documentary (after repeated denials that Blackfish posed any risk to their business (or, for that matter, that the documentary told the truth)).
If I knew more about stocks, I would provide further analysis, but I will just share these numbers in lieu of anything more sophisticated: the day Blackfish premiered at Sundance, on January 19, 2013, SeaWorld's stock was at $33.25. Today, it sits at $17.29. That's a 48% drop in stock price in large part because of director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and company. I do not revel in the fact that 300 people just lost their jobs as a result of SeaWorld's struggles, but the exploitation and torture of animals is certainly a cause worth fighting with our collective filmmaking abilities, and SeaWorld's stock chart in relation to Blackfish is a great example of the power of filmmaking.