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Cast and crew are excited for the release of Pixar’s upcoming sequel to Finding Nemo, but the undersea world is not all smiles following recent controversy at SeaWorld

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Ever since the credits rolled on everyone’s favorite father and son clown fish duo at the end of Pixar‘s 2003 hit Finding Nemo, fans have been eagerly awaiting a return to the bottom of the Pacific. Well it may have taken 12 years. but Pixar have finally re-opened their big box o’ crayons to scribble life back into Nemo, Marlin and Dory for a 2015 release which will be entitled Finding Dory.

The film will see the return of the voice talents of Ellen DeGeneres as Dory and Albert Brooks as Marlin as well as new cast members Diane Keaton (The Godfather, Annie Hall) and Eugene Levy (American Pie, Cheaper by the Dozen 2) as Dory’s parents and Ty Burrell (Modern Family, The Incredible Hulk) as a Beluga whale named Bailey. The ‘finding’ in this installment looks to be more figurative and it appears that the main focus of the plot will be Dory’s family.

Fans have been eager to see their favorite fishy friends return to the big screen, but apparently so have the cast. Ellen DeGeneres made the following statement in a press release earlier this year:

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I have waited for this day for a long, long, long, long, long, long time. I’m not mad it took this long. I know the people at Pixar were busy creating ‘Toy Story 16.’ But the time they took was worth it. The script is fantastic. And it has everything I loved about the first one: It’s got a lot of heart, it’s really funny, and the best part is—it’s got a lot more Dory.

Finding Dory also sees the return of veteran Pixar director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E). He has a great affection for the character created in the first film, and was as eager as everyone else to be reunited with his animated cast:

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There is no Dory without Ellen. She won the hearts of moviegoers all over the world—not to mention our team here at Pixar. One thing we couldn’t stop thinking about was why she was all alone in the ocean on the day she met Marlin. In ‘Finding Dory,’ she will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.

The film will apparently take place about a year after the events of Finding Nemo and see returning characters as well as a host of new arrivals having adventures set (at least in part) off the coast of California.

However, the final plot of the film has apparently seen some major rewrites recently, thanks in no small part to controversy surrounding the Marine park chain SeaWorld. Videos which have surfaced on Youtube show instances of alleged mistreatment of dolphins and whales at the park and have caused quite a stir among animal rights activists. This coupled with the recent tell-all documentary Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite which focused on the treatment of captive orca whales at SeaWorld, has cast quite a shadow over the organisation.

Following strong audience reactions at early screenings of the documentary, writers for Finding Dory have had to consider rewriting scenes at the end of the new film, which were to depict the main cast at a marine park similar to SeaWorld. In light of the controversy raised by Blackfish, the scenes have had to be restructured, supposedly now showing improved conditions for wildlife at the park as well as them having the ability to leave if they so choose.

The changes should not have too much affect on the actual story, nor should audiences expect a change in the tone of the film to reflect the SeaWorld incidents. For now, the hope on everyone’s mind is that Finding Dory is better than Pixar’s last attempt at a sequel - Cars 2 was not particularly well received – and that a new generation of fans will learn to just keep swimming…

What do you think? Are you excited for Finding Dory? Who were your favorite fishy characters? Are SeaWorld really evil? Thoughts, feelings and promises of hugs appreciated in the comments