Activist Ric O'Barry has been crusading against dolphin captivity for more than forty years, but it was the Oscar-winning documentary 'The Cove' that really put him and his cause in the public eye. The 2009 film depicts a mission in which O'Barry and a team of fellow preservationists went to Japan to capture footage of dolphin slaughter and raise general awareness of an illegal fishing operation in Taiji, Wakayama. Since then he has also had a mini-series on Animal Planet in which he returned to the titular Taiji cove and also exposed a similar dolphin trade in the Solomon Islands. Now according to Deadline, the former trainer and actor will get to have his whole life unveiled on the big screen in a biopic from 'Poseidon' producers Mike Fleiss and Chris Briggs along with Ric's son, Lincoln O'Barry, who produced and directed that Animal Planet series.
Is such a film necessary? And will it depreciate the value of 'The Cove'?
It's likely that the majority of people who would see a very acclaimed and heavily lauded non-fiction film have already seen it, so probably not in certain terms. Instead it could actually inspire more people to watch the doc, or at least become aware of its cause. But it is still somewhat annoying that more people will choose to see an actor portray O'Barry (we suggest James Caan for the part) and a likely effects-heavy staging of the bloody dolphin slaughter than see the original. Not that this is technically a remake anymore than 'Milk' was a remake of 'The Times of Harvey Milk,' but it will feel like one. 'The Cove' presents us with much of O'Barry's life and background, such as his years working on the TV series 'Flipper' and the dolphin suicide that turned his life around. It's hard to imagine what more we'll see in the dramatized take.
One thing that's odd, too, is that for re-enactments of parts of O'Barry's life it would seem they'd need to employ trained and captive dolphins as "actors." Or would they just use animatronic and computer-generated animals? Also kind of ridiculous is the fact that Fleiss and Briggs are currently producing a movie called 'Shark Night 3-D,' which probably won't be a favorite of many marine animal activists who are as much against the demonization of sharks as they are against their poaching and slaughter (I'm not sure what O'Barry's attitude on shark slaughter and captivity is). Of course, having the O'Barrys involved should maintain that the biopic adheres to their animal rights standards.