Disney's new film label to make nature documentaries

MUMBAI: The Walt Disney Studios has launched Disneynature, a new production banner that will produce big screen nature documentaries.

Disney veteran Jean-Francois Camilleri, who has served as senior vice president and general manager for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures France, will head the new unit.

Disneynature will be based in France, where Camilleri and his team will oversee the initiation, development and acquisition of high quality feature projects.

The significance of the new banner goes beyond the studio, with The Walt Disney Company embracing this new initiative around the world through a number of its businesses, including publications, licensing, parks and educational outreach.

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 Planet Earth series for the BBC and The Blue Planet.

Earth, which is produced by BBC Worldwide and Greenlight Media and co-directed by Mark Linfield, will take the viewers on a tour of the home planet. It will be narrated by renowned actor James Earl Jones and will premiere theatrically on Earth Day, 22 April 2009. The film will also be released under the Disneynature banner in Latin America.

“We love balancing heritage and innovation and Disneynature is a perfect example of this. We are placing the legacy of Disney’s ‘True-Life Adventures’ in the hands of great modern filmmakers using dazzling technology,” said The Walt Disney company president and CEO Robert A. Iger.

“Disneynature is a concept we look forward to building across the company and across the globe for years to come. And, we hope these films will contribute to a greater understanding and appreciation of the beauty and fragility of our natural world,” added Iger.

The Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook added, “Our goal is for Disneynature to offer event films that will appeal to everyone who is captivated by the grandeur of nature and the wonder of great filmmaking. Thanks to today’s state-of-the-art creative tools, filmmakers have an unlimited ability to tell nature’s limitless stories. These stories are as engrossing as any works of fiction and are of a scale and scope that can only be fully appreciated on a big screen. At Disneynature, the sky is truly the limit.”

Some of the 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.

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