Sundance 2013: CNN, Magnolia Team to Acquire Killer Whale Doc ‘Blackfish’

Magnolia will release the film in theaters while CNN will air the broadcast premiere

CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures have jointly acquired domestic rights to “Blackfish,” Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary about killer whales in captivity.

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Cowperthwaite traces the 39-year history of killers whales in captivity, culminating in a 2010 incident in which a 12,000-pound Orca kills a trainer. She documents how such incidents happen, often when these massive animals are held in captivity.

The name of the film is derived from the term Native Americn fisherman used for killers whales.

“Blackfish is one of the most exciting, compulsively watchable documentaries that we’ve seen in a long time,” Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “Gabriela Cowperthwaite has made a beautiful, eye-opening film that sticks with audiences for a long time.”

Magnolia will release the movie in theaters over the summer, and CNN will then premiere it on television later in 2013.