CNN Films, a production and acquisition unit of CNN Worldwide, and the Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures have partnered to acquire the U.S. rights to director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary Blackfish at the Sundance film festival.
Blackfish traces a 39 year history of killer whales in captivity leading up to a 2010 incident where an experienced Sea World trainer was killed by the 12,000 lb. Orca whale Tilikum, a whale previously associated with the death of two other people. Blackfish chillingly shows that this incident of violence is hardly an isolated one, along the way exploring the extraordinary nature of Orcas, thought to be one of the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom. Ultimately, it is a story about the life and death consequences of a spectacle that has thrilled millions.
"'Blackfish' is one of the most exciting, compulsively watchable documentaries that we've seen in a long time," said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. "Gabriela Cowperthwaite has made a beautiful, eye-opening film that sticks with audiences for a long time."
"At CNN Films we want to showcase compelling documentary storytelling that also sheds new light on important social and cultural issues. Gabriela Cowperthwaite's beautiful and moving film 'Blackfish' is at once an investigation into the people and practices of the marine park industry and a thought-provoking meditation on the limits of man's ability to manipulate nature. We look forward to presenting this fascinating film to our audience," said CNN Worldwide Managing Editor, Mark Whitaker.
Magnolia plans a summer theatrical release for the documentary, followed by a domestic broadcast premiere on CNN later in 2013.
"I was deeply honored to be accepted into Sundance and am overwhelmed to find partners of this magnitude," says Cowperthwaite. "To partner on the theatrical release with Eamonn Bowles of Magnolia and Mark Whitaker of CNN, two people who understand and embrace this film, and to receive the support of a powerhouse global brand like CNN, I couldn't be happier."
The film is produced by Cowperthaite, and Manuel Oteyza. Executive produced by Judy Bart, Erica Kahn, and Rick Brookwell.