Disney launches new nature film label

Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:57pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

BURBANK, California (Reuters) - Bambi will soon have lots of new friends at the Walt Disney Co.

The entertainment giant on Monday announced the launch of a new film label, Disneynature, dedicated to producing wildlife and environmental documentaries for the big screen, starting with a 2009 U.S. release titled "Earth."

The new venture marks one of the most conspicuous moves by a major Hollywood studio to capitalize on growing public fondness for all things green since the 2006 success of Al Gore's global warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

"Our goal is to bring event films, as only nature can tell, to audiences around the world and for generations to come," Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, said in unveiling the production banner on the Disney lot in Burbank, California.

Cook said he expected Disneynature to produce roughly one film for commercial release each year.

The new label will be run by Jean-Francois Camilleri, a veteran France-based Disney executive who co-produced the surprise 2005 hit "March of the Penguins," which won the Oscar for best documentary the year before "Inconvenient Truth" did.

The first U.S. release from the new venture, slated to debut on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, is titled "Earth," adapted from popular BBC television series "Planet Earth."

Narrated by actor James Earl Jones, it will explore animal migration patterns, focusing on the journeys of polar bears, elephants and humpback whales over the course of a single year.   Continued...

<p>A still photograph from the upcoming 2009 Disneynature film "Earth" from the new film label "Disneynature" launched by The Walt Disney Co. April 21, 2008 which will feature wildlife and environmental movies for theaters is pictured in this undated publicity photograph. REUTERS/The Walt Disney Co./BBC Worldwide Limited/Handout</p>