DOLPHIN TALE 2
About The Production
A New Tale
In September 2011, moviegoers were introduced to Winter, the dolphin whose
astounding true story was dramatized in the family film "Dolphin Tale." She had
already been something of a local celebrity at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
(CMA), the non-profit marine animal rescue facility on the Gulf Coast of
Florida. After the release of the movie, however, her fame grew exponentially,
as did her impact on CMA, as well as on people the world over who were inspired
by her courage and resilience.
Charles Martin Smith, the director of the original film, who returned to write
and direct "Dolphin Tale 2," offers, "I think it was a combination of factors
that caused 'Dolphin Tale' to resonate with audiences. The idea that a dolphin
could have so desperate an injury and lose her tail, and that a team of
strangers would rally around her to save her with a first-of-its-kind
prosthetic, was so improbable and yet it's true. And Winter's own spirit moved
people so deeply. So many have come up to me and said how affected they were by
the film. I thought we would touch people with 'Dolphin Tale'; I didn't realize
how much. It has been truly gratifying."
Producer Andrew A. Kosove adds, "It's a story of perseverance, of overcoming
obstacles and succeeding, and also of compassion. Those are themes that most of
us can relate to in one way or another, and they are messages that most parents
want their children to experience. I think that's why the first 'Dolphin Tale'
worked-not just as a kids' movie, but as a true family film, for adults and
children to enjoy together."
Despite its success, the filmmakers never envisioned a sequel to "Dolphin Tale,"
as it was based on actual events. Producer Richard Ingber, who had been
responsible for bringing Winter's story to the attention of Alcon Entertainment,
explains, "In terms of movies, true stories are usually told and then you go
home. We didn't even have any thoughts that there could be a sequel."
However, on the very night that the cast and crew had gathered to celebrate the
completion of the first film "an event happened that changed everything," Ingber
continues. "We were all at the wrap party when the Aquarium got the call that a
baby dolphin was in trouble and needed rescue...and was there any possibility that
they could bring her to CMA."
There were fears the infant dolphin was too young even to survive the trip, but
she did, resulting in her new name: Hope.
David Yates, the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and an executive producer
on "Dolphin Tale 2," recounts, "Everything unfolded that night. The fact that
Hope came to us during the wrap party of 'Dolphin Tale' was incredible enough,
but the similarities between Winter's rescue and Hope's rescue are unbelievable.
They're both Atlantic bottlenose dolphins; they are both females; they were both
about the same age when they arrived; and they were found in the same part of
Florida by the same rescue team. The odds of all that happening are so small."
When the van carrying CMA's newest resident pulled in, much of the cast and crew
were there to witness her being hand carried directly to the pool, where staff
members were ready and waiting to care for her.
Harry Connick, Jr. recalls, "Everybody was oohing and aahing because she was
just so adorable, never thinking that what we were watching would, in time,
prompt a completely new storyline that would bring us back together."
It wasn't until months later, when the filmmakers saw the response to "Dolphin
Tale," that they began considering the idea of continuing Winter's story with
the addition of Hope. The baby had been stranded too young to have learned the
life skills necessary to survive in the wild, so she, like Winter, will always
reside at CMA, where the two have become poolmates.
"It was an idea that took on its own life, which was fantastic," says Smith. "I
loved that I had the opportunity to go back and show more of the good work of
CMA that we weren't able to fit into the first movie-especially emphasizing
their mandate to Rescue, Rehabilitate and, when possible, Return the animals
that come into their care to the wild. I believe in that very deeply and share
their commitment. It was important this time to show the successful rehab and
release of animals."
CMA's mission hasn't changed, although a lot of other things have evolved over
the past three years.
Yates details, "'Dolphin Tale' exploded our educational outreach all around the
world. We went from average attendance of about 78,000 people in 2006 to 750,000
after the film came out. Everything has been revolutionized by the movie in one
way or another and all of it has allowed us to help many more animals. We have
new operating rooms, expanded animal care areas, new kitchens and food preps
areas, new labs, and new pools,
including the one that was generously built as a permanent installation for the
previous movie, which enabled us to take in Hope."
As with the arrival of Hope, "Dolphin Tale 2" depicts another true and equally
life-changing event-the sad passing of Panama, an elderly dolphin who was one of
CMA's most beloved residents and Winter's surrogate mother. In the film, her
death means that Winter will need a new companion, as dictated by the USDA.
Smith says change became a central theme of his screenplay, for both the animals
and the humans. "Time goes on and change is inevitable. Children grow up, there
is death and new life... We can't turn back the clock, so we just have to embrace
what comes. That's what this film is about to me."
Producer Broderick Johnson notes, "'Dolphin Tale 2 really is Charles' vision.
His screenplay reflected the spirit and the DNA of the original movie, with all
the characters that audiences loved, along with a few new ones. We had a lot of
fun shooting the first film, and we were very excited about the idea of going
back and revisiting Winter with all the actors."
"Dolphin Tale 2" reunites Smith and the producers with the entire cast of the
earlier film, who all say they leapt at the chance to return to Clearwater and
to team again with the director, as well as one another.
"Of all the movie experiences I've had, I'd have to rank 'Dolphin Tale' as one
of the best, and that starts with Charles Martin Smith," affirms Connick. "If
you have a director who is really passionate, as well as talented, it sets the
tone for the whole production. It all trickled down from Charles. He's very
thoughtful and artistic and knows when to give direction and when to stand back.
And getting to work with Winter again was a thrill. To have a great movie
experience once is a luxury, but to have it twice...that's really a blessing."
Morgan Freeman agrees. "I think Charles is a terrific director. He wrote the
script so he knew what he wanted, but he's also an actor, so he has that
understanding of the job."
Their sentiments are echoed by the younger generation. "It was such a blast to
be back and working with everyone again," says Nathan Gamble. "It was also an
honor because I've had both kids and adults come up to me and say how much
'Dolphin Tale' inspired them, and you have no idea how wonderful that makes me
Rounding out the main returning cast are Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi
Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell and Austin Highsmith. Bethany Hamilton, the
inspiring young woman who has become known as the "soul surfer," joins the cast,
There is also the non-human ensemble, led, of course, by Winter, with a variety
of other animals providing some comic relief. An audience favorite from the
first film, the troublemaking pelican, Rufus, is back to find a decidedly
unfeathered friend in a sea turtle named Mavis.
Smith remarks, "I couldn't wait for the start of filming. It was like a family
reunion. Everyone involved in 'Dolphin Tale' had stayed in touch so I had a
sense that all the actors would want to come back, and I'm so glad they did."
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