Tag Archives: Entertainment

SeaWorld settles investor lawsuit over ‘Blackfish’ film for $65M

SeaWorld Entertainment will fork over $65 million to settle a lawsuit accusing it of misleading investors about how big a bite the “Blackfish” documentary would take out of its business.

The deal scuttles a trial set for this month over the 2014 class-action lawsuit, which accused the aquatic theme park operator of duping shareholders about business woes that followed the 2013 film accusing SeaWorld of abusing its signature orca whales by keeping them in captivity.

The Orlando, Florida-based company has made a deal to settle the case without admitting any “fault, liability, or wrongdoing,” SeaWorld said in a Tuesday regulatory filing. The company said it will fund the settlement with about $45.5 million in insurance proceeds and about $19.5 million in cash.

SeaWorld has also settled a separate shareholder derivative lawsuit making similar allegations that it failed to tell investors about the effects of “Blackfish,” according to the Securities and Exchange Commission filing. SeaWorld will make “certain corporate governance modifications” as a result of the deal, the filing says.

Courts still have to approve both settlements, SeaWorld said. Shares in the company were up about 1.1 percent on the news at $36.04 as of 12:17 p.m. Tuesday.

The settlements are just the latest sign of the fallout from “Blackfish,” which created a firestorm of bad publicity for SeaWorld and caused attendance at its parks to drop.

SeaWorld and two former execs paid more than $5 million in a 2018 settlement with the SEC, which said the company knew the documentary had led profits and ticket sales to sink but denied the impact until it was too late. After the company finally admitted attendance had plummeted in the wake of the film, on Aug. 13, 2014, the stock plummeted 33 percent.

That followed the 2014 class-action shareholder suit, which alleged that SeaWorld failed to disclose that it improperly cared for its orcas and continued to feature a whale that had injured and killed several trainers.