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SeaWorld's Stock Drops: Is 'Blackfish' To Blame?

SeaWorld published its unsatisfactory second quarter results on Wednesday; did the controversial film "Blackfish" have something to do with it?
Posted at 9:50 AM, Aug 14, 2014

SeaWorld published its second quarter earnings on Wednesday, and waters are looking choppy for the company. 

With revenue down by more than $6 million and earnings missing the mark, SeaWorld's stock, at its low, fell more than 30 percent on Wednesday alone.

Many news outlets were quick to point out it's been little more than a year since the release of the controversial documentary "Blackfish," which painted a dark picture of SeaWorld's practices of capturing and keeping killer whales. Did one movie make this much of an impact?

After the film's release, SeaWorld remained quiet for a time before launching a campaign against the documentary, calling it "propaganda." 

The Los Angeles Times says the film has brought "harsh criticism" to the popular theme park and reminds us of a Change.org petition calling for the release of Tilikum, an orca featured in the documentary. The film points to three separate deaths involving the orca.

The New York Post points to Southwest Airline's backing out of a 26-year partnership with SeaWorld as evidence of the film's effect on the company.

Media coverage like this from Slate certainly hasn't helped SeaWorld's attendance or its bottom line.

While attendance has actually risen 0.3 percent versus Q2 of 2013, Business Insider says, "Year to date, attendance at SeaWorld parks is down 4.3%."

For its part, SeaWorld attributes attendance rates to a late start to summer, a delayed opening of one of its attractions, and even makes a slight nod toward "media attention" as a possible reason for lackluster attendance. (Video via SeaWorld)

The company says its board of directors has authorized a $250 million share repurchase program and promises to cut costs in 2014 and 2015. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.