Pixar Altering Finding Dory

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Pixar is Altering the End of ‘Finding Dory’ After ‘Blackfish’ Doc Fallout

Blackfish / Dory

“Are you sure you speak whale?” A very interesting story from NY Times’ Arts Beat blog today about one of the year’s breakout documentaries and the impact it’s already having on our society. Blackfish is the doc, from director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, which opens the book on Seaworld and the mistreatment of the Orca whales they keep in captivity. I just saw the doc this week myself and it’s a powerful, persuasive doc that will leave you with the feeling of never wanting to visit Seaworld (again). It’s that feeling that Pixar has already noticed, as an insider at the animation studio tipped off the NY Times that they’re changing the ending of the 2015 sequel Finding Dory because of the response the doc is nurturing with the public. Smart move.

It was just announced in April that Pixar is officially working on Finding Dory, a sequel to Finding Nemothat will explore the story of Marlin’s blue tang friend Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres (who is returning). Plot details are being kept under wraps, but early reports claim the story was going to end with Dory (and possibly a new whale character) at an “aquatic center” like Seaworld. Due to the fallout that Blackfish has caused and the negativity towards Seaworld and their “bathtub-like” conditions, Pixar is already working on a revision that acknowledges the changes this doc will encourage in this world. As explained by the Times:

The script for “Finding Dory,” which is still in the early stages of production ahead of its planned 2015 release, initially had an ending that involved a marine park, according to a Pixar employee. But as a result of the sometimes harsh “Blackfish,” directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, and the resulting publicity battle SeaWorld has had to fight, Pixar decided to restructure that part of the story so that the fish and mammals taken to its aquatic center have the option to leave.

This is a rather important news story because it indicates a few key points: mainly that the Blackfishdoc is already having a huge cultural impact, which is a good thing (once you see it you’ll understand why so many feel bad about these animals); next, Seaworld is likely going to respond by improving their conditions; and lastly, Pixar’s decision in this instance can be a guide for how things should work (if not being considered already) by leading through example. They can show how a morally reasonable “aquatic center” would work.

At Disney’s D23 Expo today, Pixar also confirmed the voice cast and some plot details for Finding Dory. In addition to returning voices Albert Brooks as Marlin and Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, the cast will include Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton as Charlie and Jenny, Dory’s parents; plus Ty Burrell as Bailey, a beluga whale sidekick character. So there is a whale as a main character after all! The story begins one year after Finding Nemo ends and focuses on Dory, who still has memory problems. A traumatic event sets off her “homing instinct” and she goes on a search for her family, just as Nemo and Marlin start looking for her.

Pixar’s Finding Dory is once again being directed by Andrew Stanton, from a screenplay by Victoria Strouse. At the moment, the animated sequel is scheduled for release November 2015, two years from now. It’s not uncommon for Pixar movies to be tweaked, revised and changed throughout the course of its production (which can last four years). This just happens to be a particular interesting development that is very timely and references an impactful documentary that I recommend, too. Blackfish is now playing in select theaters.

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