Dolphin Tale

Dolphin Tale
Dolphin Tale

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
Produced by Richard Ingber
Broderick Johnson
Andrew A. Kosove
Written by Karen Janszen
Noam Dromi
Starring Harry Connick, Jr.
Nathan Gamble
Ashley Judd
Kris Kristofferson
Morgan Freeman
Jim Fitzpatrick
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Editing by Harvey Rosenstock
Studio Alcon Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) September 23, 2011 (2011-09-23)
Running time 112 minutes [1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $37 million[2]
Box office $81.7 million[3]

Dolphin Tale is a 2011 family drama film directed by Charles Martin Smith from a screenplay by Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi and a book of the same name. It stars Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman.

The book and film are "inspired by the amazing true story of Winter", a bottlenose dolphin that was rescued in December 2005 off the Florida coast and taken in by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. It lost its tail after becoming tangled in as rope attached to a crab trap and had to be fitted with a prosthetic one.[4]



The initial scenes of the movie show a school of dolphins in their natural state, followed by a crab fisherman returning a crab trap to the ocean after emptying the trap of its contents.

Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) is biking along the beach when a fisherman (Richard Libertini), calls for help after finding an injured bottlenose dolphin tangled in a crab trap. The two call for assistance, and rescue workers from the Clearwater Marine Hospital, run by Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.), take the injured dolphin for treatment. Clay's daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) names the dolphin Winter, as two prior dolphins (Summer and Autumn) were successfully returned to the ocean, and believes that using seasons as names will continue the streak. She allows Sawyer to see Winter; Clay initially does not like the arrangement since Sawyer is not trained in marine animal care; however, after noticing that Winter responds well whenever Sawyer is around, he is allowed to visit. Afterwards Sawyer (who was enrolled in summer school due to him failing or nearly failing all his classes during the year) skips classes to visit Winter daily. Sawyer's mother Lorraine (Ashley Judd) finds out about Sawyer skipping classes, but after seeing that Sawyer's interaction with Winter has improved his moods and well-being (something Sawyer had not shown since being abandoned by his father who disappeared while going on a visit five years earlier), she withdraws him from summer school and allows him to volunteer at the hospital.

Unfortunately, Winter's tail is irreparably damaged and thus must be amputated. Winter learns to swim without a tail by developing a side-to-side motion (like a fish), but after an x-ray Dr. Haskett notices that the unnatural motion is causing stress on her spine; if continued the motion will eventually kill her. Meanwhile, Sawyer's cousin Kyle, a champion swimmer, returns from the military with a damaged right leg from an explosion (later requiring amputation). Sawyer visits him at the local Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he meets Dr. Cameron McCarthy (played by Morgan Freeman) who specializes in prosthetics. Sawyer thinks that a prosthetic tail may be the solution for Winter's future health and asks Dr. McCarthy to assist; he agrees to work on the project during his upcoming vacation, and convinces his prosthetic supplier (Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, who supplies Winter's real-life tails) to supply the parts at no cost. Dr. McCarthy manufactures a "homemade" model tail while waiting for the real one to arrive; however, Winter destroys it by banging it against the pool wall.

Shortly thereafter the hospital (already in financial peril) is seriously damaged by "Hurricane LeRoy", whereupon the board of directors agree to close the hospital, sell the land to a real estate developer, and find homes for the other residents (except Winter, who due to her condition is not relocatable and may have to be euthanized). However, after a chance encounter with a mother and daughter (who heard about Winter's story and drove all the way from Atlanta to see her; the daughter is also missing a left leg), Sawyer comes up with a last-chance plan, "Save Winter Day", to save the facility. Dr. Haskett is not sold on the idea, but reconsiders after talking with his father, Reed (Kris Kristofferson). Kyle agrees to a race against Donovan (who followed him at high school and broke nearly all his prior swim records) and enlists a female friend at Bay News 9 to promote the event.

The Hanger-supplied tail finally arrives; however, Winter damages it as well. Sawyer discovers that Winter isn't rejecting the tail; instead, the sock to which the tail is attached is irritating her skin. Dr. McCarthy comes up with an alternative gel-like sock (which he calls "WintersGel", the real-life name of the Hanger product used to attach prosthetic limbs, which was developed during its research with Winter); and finally on Save Winter Day she is able to accept the new sock and tail.

At Save Winter Day, Sawyer's teacher gives him credit for his work at the hospital; thus, Sawyer has passed summer school despite not attending formal classes. The fisherman who initially spotted Winter places $40 in the donation jar (saying "Winter and I are old friends"). The board learned that the real estate deal closed (thus selling the facility); however, the developer (who attended the event with his grandchildren) agrees to allow the hospital to remain open.

The ending shows documentary footage from Winter's actual rescue, several of the prosthetic tails that Winter has worn, and scenes from real amputees who have visited Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Differences between the movie and actual events

  • In the movie Winter is found stranded on a beach near Clearwater, by a fisherman sitting on the shore (and rescued with Sawyer's assistance). In real life, Winter was found in Mosquito Lagoon (on the opposite side of the state), not on a beach, by a fisherman in the lagoon, and no children were involved.
  • In the movie the process of developing Winter's tail takes place over a few weeks by a doctor working during vacation. In real life, the process of developing a suitable tail (and attaching it) took well over a year by people working nearly full-time on the project.
  • In the movie Clearwater Marine Hospital (already struggling from financial issues) is severely damaged by a hurricane and faces closure, only to be dramatically saved by "Save Winter Day". In real life, Clearwater Marine Aquarium did not face any such financial pressures, either before or after Winter's arrival.


  • Harry Connick Jr. as Dr. Clay Haskett
  • Nathan Gamble as Sawyer Nelson
  • Ashley Judd as Lorraine Nelson
  • Kris Kristofferson as Reed Haskett
  • Morgan Freeman as Dr. Cameron McCarthy
  • Cozi Zuehlsdorff as Hazel Haskett
  • Winter as herself
  • Ray McKinnon as Mr. Doyle
  • Austin Stowell as Kyle Connellan
  • Jim Fitzpatrick as Max Connellan
  • Austin Highsmith as Phoebe
  • Ashley White as Sandra Sinclair
  • Kurt Yaeger as Tim
  • Marc Macaulay as John Fitch
  • Rus Blackwell as Coach Vansky
  • Michael Roark as Donovan Peck
  • Juliana Harkavy as Rebecca
  • Richard Libertini as Fisherman


Dolphin Tale was filmed primarily in Pinellas County, Florida with the principal location centering around Winter's home, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Additional locations featured in the film include: Admiral Farragut Academy, Honeymoon Island, Tarpon Springs, and local news station Bay News 9.[5]


Dolphin Tale was released on September 23, 2011 in North America by Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon Entertainment. The film was released in Real D 3D as well as 2D.

Box office

The film opened at #3 with $19.2 million behind the 3D re-release of The Lion King and Moneyball.[6] In its second weekend, the film reached the #1 spot, dropping only 27%, and grossed an estimated $13.9 million.[7] As of November 4, 2011, the film has grossed $69,103,705 in the United States and Canada as well as $6,240,000 internationally bringing its worldwide total to $84,743,305.[3]


The film received very positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 83% of 95 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.5 out of 10.[8] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 64 based on 30 reviews.[9] Blake Wilson, author of the review blogsite Movies Taken Seriously, gave the film 4 stars, calling it "Heartwarming, dramatic, and cleverly-told, Dolphin Tale is one of those rare family gems that is excellent in every way".[10]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dolphin Tale — Título La gran aventura de Winter el delfín (España) Winter El delfín (Latinoamérica) Ficha técnica Dirección Charles Martin Smith Producción …   Wikipedia Español

  • The Dolphin (fairy tale) — The Dolphin is a French literary fairy tale by Madame d Aulnoy. [Marie Catherine Baronne D Aulnoy. [ The Dolphin ] The Fairy Tales of Madame D Aulnoy Miss Annie Macdonell and Miss …   Wikipedia

  • Disney's Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion — 28° 24′ 31″ N 81° 35′ 12″ W / 28.4085, 81.586611 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Walt Disney World Dolphin & Swan — Walt Disney World Dolphin Swan Walt Disney World Dolphin Swan est un ensemble de deux hôtels situé entre les parcs Epcot et Disney MGM Studios à Walt Disney World Resort en Floride. Ils possèdent une architecture similaire due à l américain… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan — Walt Disney World Dolphin Swan Walt Disney World Dolphin Swan est un ensemble de deux hôtels situé entre les parcs Epcot et Disney MGM Studios à Walt Disney World Resort en Floride. Ils possèdent une architecture similaire due à l américain… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Walt disney world dolphin & swan — Walt Disney World Dolphin Swan Walt Disney World Dolphin Swan est un ensemble de deux hôtels situé entre les parcs Epcot et Disney MGM Studios à Walt Disney World Resort en Floride. Ils possèdent une architecture similaire due à l américain… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Walt Disney World Dolphin & Swan — 28°22′02″N 81°33′38″O / 28.36722, 81.56056 Walt Disney World Dolphin Swan est un ensemble de deux hôtels situé entre les pa …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Walt Disney World Dolphin — Le Walt Disney World Dolphi …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons — is a program offering wedding and honeymoon services to couples at the Disneyland Resort in California, the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort in Hong Kong, and on the Disney Cruise Line. It operates within the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Lion King — This article is about Disney s 1994 film. For the franchise, see The Lion King (franchise). For the ferry, see MS Kongshavn. The Lion King …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.