ISLAND ESTATES— It will take more than memorizing a script and applying makeup to prepare two lead actors for the sequel to “Dolphin Tale.”
Winter and Hope will get some help in adjusting to the tools of the film trade, said Frank Dame, executive vice president of Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where the two Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have lived since their rescue.
“Hope and Winter are becoming desensitized to movie equipment, lights and cameras,” he said. “Winter loves the camera. She's a natural.”
This week, the aquarium and marine animal hospital became a stage for the two movie star dolphins, as Hollywood film crews returned for “Dolphin Tale 2.”
Some of the same trainers, who have been with the famous dolphin since she first came to the aquarium in 2005 and have been involved in her rehabilitation and training to use her special prosthetic tail, will be involved in preparing Winter and Hope for the film. Trainers will also work with the actors who interact with the dolphins during the taping.
Dame said that if the movie sequel is a success, “I'm very optimistic that a television series is possible.”
If the sequel is successful, Warner Brothers and Alcon Television "may" consider a weekly children's animated series starring Winter, he said.
'Dolphin Tale 2'
The first motion picture introduced the world to Winter, and its production directly put 1,300 people to work during the 55-day film shoot.
The sequel will tell another story inspired by Winter and will introduce Hope, an orphan recovered on Florida's east coast near the same location the wounded Winter was found entangled in a crab trap line.
The original cast including Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman are returning for the sequel, as will more than a thousand workers.
“Dolphin Tale 2” is being produced by Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. The anticipated release is next September.
Setting the aquarium stage
Crews from the movie studios have been on the grounds since last week preparing the movie set and refurbishing props.
A new signature mural on the exterior walls of the aquarium, compliments of Warner Brothers, was painted. Rolling waves in shades of ocean blue now encircle the building.
One of the biggest movie props — the houseboat of Harry Connick Jr.'s character, the head of the aquarium — will be refurbished next, according to Dame. The houseboat has been moored outside the aquarium since filming of the original movie.
Panama will be missed
Unlike in the first film, there will be no cameo appearances by Panama, surrogate mother to Winter and Hope.
Two weeks since Panama's death, the demeanor of her two young tank mates continues to improve, according to Dame. The aquarium also is home to Nicholas, who played a dolphin named Christa in “Dolphin Tale.”
A number of scientific research and studies indicate that dolphins are social creatures, living in groups, and share human-like emotions ranging from joy to grief to attentive care of the sick and injured.
Aquarium officials kept close watch over Winter and Hope during the days immediately following Panama's death.
“Hope and Winter were very curious at the time but have since adjusted. Fortunately, they have each other,” Dame said.
Panama was estimated to be in her 40s. The average life span of dolphins in the wild is 20 to 25 years.
Hours of operation during filming
Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure off Cleveland Street downtown will remain open daily, except Christmas and Thanksgiving. But the Island Estates aquarium closed this week to visitors through the duration of the filming. However, it will reopen during the holidays:
- The weekend after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
- Dec. 21 through Jan. 5. The aquarium is closed Christmas Day and will close early on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
The aquarium will be closed for filming:
- Now through Nov. 28;
- Dec. 2 through 20;
- Jan. 6 through 17.
For more information on hours of operation, visit www.seewinter.com.