SeaWorld has agreed to a huge settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges related to the 2013 movie “Blackfish.” The CNN Films documentary painted a grim portrait of the captivity and exhibition of orcas, or killer whales, including by SeaWorld.
Reuters reports that SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. and former CEO James Atchison will pay more than $5 million to settle charges that they misled investors about the negative impact of the documentary on the company.
“The SEC on Tuesday said SeaWorld and Atchison downplayed the documentary’s impact from Dec. 2013 to Aug. 2014, even as bad publicity began hurting attendance and SeaWorld’s reputation,” Reuters reports. “SeaWorld’s share price tumbled 32.9 percent on Aug. 13, 2014, wiping out more than $832 million of shareholder value, after the Orlando, Florida-based company finally acknowledged the ‘Blackfish effect,’ the SEC said.”
In a statement, Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC enforcement division, said: “This case underscores the need for a company to provide investors with timely and accurate information that has an adverse impact on its business.”
The report notes that SeaWorld decided in 2016 to end its orca breeding programs and phase out killer whale shows.