Walt Disney Studios announced Monday the launch of a new film-making branch of their already comprehensive entertainment conglomerate. Called “Disneynature,” the new standard-bearer of the Mickey Empire will focus on – you guessed it – nature documentaries, an increasingly lucrative field, especially in IMAX equipped theatres.
Disneynature will expand on the work of Papa Walt himself, who produced nature pieces for his television shows and to accompany his feature films as early as 1949’s “Seal Island.” The new banner will be led by Disney vet Jean-Francois Camilleri, based in his native France. As I am old enough to recall the “Euro Disney” fiasco, I find basing anything Disney-related in France a bit odd, but that’s just me.
Camilleri has a full slate of projects already set to roll for Disneynature including, in celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, the appropriately titled “Earth” narrated by James Earl Jones – who else? Here is what the good folks at Disney said about “Earth” in their press release and all the images we were sent:
Among the first films to be released domestically under the new label will be Earth, from award-winning British producer/director Alastair Fothergill, whose credits include the landmark Planet Earth series for the BBC and The Discovery Channel and The Blue Planet. Earth, which is produced by BBC Worldwide and Greenlight Media and co-directed by Mark Linfield, will take us on a tour of our home planet as we’ve never seen it before. It will be narrated by renowned actor James Earl Jones and will premiere theatrically on Earth Day, April 22, 2009. The film will also be released under the Disneynature banner in Latin America. Check out the trailer.
Earth Disneynature Movie Trailer
Among the other Disneynature projects currently in development or production are:
THE CRIMSON WING: Mystery of the Flamingos – Co-directed by Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward, and produced by Paul Webster (Kudos Pictures), this film will take viewers to the isolated shores of Lake Natron in northern Tanzania for a birds-eye view of the mysterious lives of flamingos. Worldwide roll-out begins December 2008
OCEANS — Nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans. French co-directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud have set out to capture the full expanse of these waters that have played such a crucial and constant role in the history and sustenance of man. The deep and abundant oceans are places of great mysteries and dangers that this film will dare to explore. Domestic release 2010
ORANGUTANS: One Minute to Midnight – Directed by Charlie Hamilton James and produced by Frédéric Fougea, this film tells the true story of a six-year-old male orangutan and his little sister, who must take an incredible journey to find a home and a family. Worldwide release 2010
BIG CATS – Audiences will get to meet three mothers – a lioness, a leopard and a cheetah – as they explore their world on the great plains of Africa. Co-directed by Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill and produced by Alix Tidmarsh, this film will show how these magnificent animals survive on their power and their cunning, while they protect and teach their cubs the ways of the wild. Worldwide release 2011
NAKED BEAUTY: A Love Story that Feeds the Earth – In this film, nature is ready for its close-up … a very close-up, as exacting macro photography takes us to the realm of flowers and their pollinators. Acclaimed filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg introduces us to a bat, a hummingbird, a butterfly and a bumblebee, demonstrating their intricate interdependence and how life on earth depends on the success of these determined, diminutive creatures. Naked Beauty is produced by Blacklight Films and Alix Tidmarsh. Worldwide release 2011
CHIMPANZEE — Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield co-direct this intimate look at the world of chimpanzees, with Christophe Boesch, head of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, serving as principal consultant and Alix Tidmarsh as producer. To be shot over three years in the tropical jungles of the Ivory Coast and Uganda, Chimpanzee will help us better understand this exceptionally intelligent species. Worldwide release 2012
So move over Discovery Channel, Disney is planning a hostile takeover – or takeback really, on the Sierra Club set. I would take them seriously if I happened to be in the ‘Green’ film-making biz – they cleaned up Times Square, didn’t they?