Editors' pick: Originally published June 10.
SeaWorld executives are sure to be looking closely at next weekend's box office returns, as "Finding Dory" is expected to be a huge hit. The Pixar movie, which is reportedly critical of aquatic captivity for the sake of entertainment, could put Seaworld's attendance and stock further in the tank. Indeed, it would not be the first time a company's market value has been dampened by Hollywood. Here are five movies that gave major headaches to big companies.
This 1998 film, based on a true story, stars John Travolta as an attorney who takes on two large corporations that have been leaking toxic chemicals into the water supply of a small Massachusetts town. One of the corporations taken on by Travolta in the movie, WR Grace (GRA) , suffered in the stock market despite the movie's underwhelming box office returns. The price of their stock dropped from $16.25 per share to $12.36 per share in the three months after the movie's release.
Julia Roberts won an Oscar for this enthusiastically received biographical movie. In it, she portrays the titular legal assistant who rallied the citizens of a California city to bring a class action lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric (PCG) , a corporation illegally polluting the city's water supply. The movie was a box office hit, and its release in March of 2000 ensured that it remained relevant for a long time, all the way through the awards season. Pacific Gas & Electric surely wished that the movie had not been such a success; the company's stock fell from $30.13 per share to $22.63 per share in the six months leading up to the film's release, and by the time Roberts was accepted her Oscar in March of 2001, the stock price had dropped to $14.16 per share.
This 2004 documentary about a man who eats only McDonald's (MCD) for 30 days was a bit of a pop culture phenomenon, and a PR nightmare for the fast-food company. Although McDonald's stock remained about even in the summer months after the film's May 7 th release, the company had to take several measures to protect its reputation. McDonald's eliminated its supersize fries and drinks from its menu a couple of months before the documentary premiered in theaters, and began to phase in a new "Go Active" menu in the days leading up to the film's release. Despite these mitigating efforts, the fast food chain's claims to healthiness could not help but ring false in the wake of this documentary.
Many a carnivore was turned vegetarian by this 2009 documentary, which explores corporate farming and the poor treatment many animals suffer before being turned into meat. Monsanto (MON) , one of the corporations called out in the film, was burned in the stock market following the documentary's premiere. In the three weeks after the release of "Food, Inc.", stocks for the company were down from $86.55 per share to $71.42 per share. The company's stock rebounded, but its reputation remains somewhat tarnished.
The big kahuna of movies that created a stir in the stock market. "Blackfish," a 2013 documentary that explores the morality and safety of keeping killer whales captive at SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS) , is still having an effect on stocks for the aquatic entertainment company today. On July 19, 2013, the day the film was released, SeaWorld's stock value stood at $38.06 per share. One month after the film's release, it had fallen to $33.76 per share. A year after that, it had fallen to $18.91 per share. Now, SeaWorld's stock is valued at a soggy $16.48 per share. This disastrous fall from grace for SeaWorld is a clear ripple effect from the release of "Blackfish." After the movie's release, several entertainers cancelled scheduled performances at SeaWorld, and Southwest Airlines (LUV) ended its 26-year business relationship with the company amidst protests from activists. Attendance at the parks has been in a free-fall since 2013, and SeaWorld's woes are sure to continue with the release of "Finding Dory." The animated sequel will play directly to SeaWorld's main demographic, family audiences, and is expected to be the highest-grossing movie of the summer. The anti-SeaWorld message was reportedly written into the movie after its director watched-you guessed it-the documentary "Blackfish."