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film news

Real-life animal story behind A Dolphin's Tale movie

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Four years ago off the coast of Florida and near Cape Canavaral, a three-month-old dolphin found herself bound by a crab trap line, unable to escape. Her attempts to free herself and her growing panic at being able to do so had cut deeply into her body. Before she could succumb to her injuries, the dolphin was discovered by humans, cut free and taken to the nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium. There veternarians assessed the dolphin's condition. She wasn't expected to survive more than 24 hours.

Fighting to save the mammal's life, doctors had to amputate the dolphin's entire tail as well as two of her vertebrae. Even after surgery the vets didn't give much hope for the animal to live long. However, that is precisely what happened to Winter the dolphin. Today she lives in the Aquarium and has been restored with the ability to propel herself through the water with the addition of a prosthetic tail.

The tale of Winter was featured recently on the Today show. Watching the program was Richard Ingber, the marketing president of movie production company Alcon Entertainment (The Book of Eli). Realizing that the story of Winter had a screenplay written all over it, Ingber tracked down the rights (held by the Aquarium and one of its employees) and successfully negotiated for them. Now Alcon has tapped actor-turned-director Charles Martin Smith to write and direct A Dolphin's Tale for the company. Smith has the right pedigree to mount what will be a family friendly movie but one with compelling enough drama; while he directed the first Air Bud movie, a light family comedy, he also starred in Never Cry Wolf, a great 1983 movie that, if you haven't seen it, deserve to. Smith's last directing/writing job was the well-received Stone of Destiny, out last year.

Dolphin's Tale will use the true story material as a springboard. The main character will be a small boy who gets involved in the rehabilitation of the dolphin, rallying community support behind the idea of creating an artificial tail for her.

-The Hollywood Reporter.

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