BBC Earth, the global natural history brand for BBC Worldwide, and Indian entertainment giant, Reliance Big Entertainment, are to partner on three motion pictures. All three films will be distributed by Reliance's international film sales and financing subsidiary, IM Global. The deal was jointly announced today by BBC Worldwide's Managing Director of Global Brands, Marcus Arthur and IM Global Founder and CEO Stuart Ford.
The first theatrical feature to be co-produced under the relationship will be the $65m 3D live action feature Walking With Dinosaurs 3D inspired by the BBC's landmark Walking With Dinosaurs brand. The picture will be co-directed by Pierre De Lespinois of Los Angeles and Alaska based 3D studio Evergreen Films and BBC Earth's Neil Nightingale (formerly the Head of the BBC Natural History Unit). BBC Earth and Evergreen Films will be working with Academy Award winning animation house Animal Logic (Happy Feet) and leading animation producer Jinko Gotoh (9, Finding Nemo) on the film.
The second co-production between the parties will be the $25m documentary feature Africa 3D which will be filmed alongside 'Africa', the BBC's forthcoming major landmark television series. Africa 3D will also be in partnership with Evergreen Films.
Global distribution for both films will be handled by indie sales and financing powerhouse IM Global, which will begin international sales on Walking With Dinosaurs 3D at the forthcoming American Film Market in Santa Monica. At AFM, IM Global will also launch worldwide sales of BBC Earth's documentary feature Life which is in post-production and will be released theatrically during 2011.
Life is an imaginative and vividly captured series of stories from the animal kingdom that follows the full cycle of animal life to the birth of the next generation. Co-Directed by Mike Gunton (Yellowstone, Life on Air) and Martha Holmes (The Blue Planet, Life in the Freezer) and produced by Magic Light Pictures' Martin Pope and Michael Rose, the film is inspired by the award winning TV series of the same name which has been broadcast in 50 countries and in the U.S. garnered more than 75 million viewers. BBC Earth's previous feature film Earth grossed $119 million worldwide when it was released theatrically in 2007.
Walking With Dinosaurs broke new ground when it was first broadcast in 1999, accumulating over 700 million viewers worldwide and followed by three subsequent specials. The franchise has since spawned over 70 licensed publications, consumer and educational products around the world including a live arena show that has grossed more than $200 million in the past three years. The narrative of the feature tells the heartwarming story of a migrating dinosaur family, torn apart and then reunited during the Cretaceous period 70 million years ago. The film will use groundbreaking LIDAR (Light, Detection and Ranging) technology to combine live action and animation in new ways, as well as groundbreaking 3D camera and pre-vis systems to create never before seen levels of invisibility between the live action and CGI worlds.
Marcus Arthur, BBC Worldwide's Managing Director of Global Brands, said, "By partnering with Reliance Big Entertainment we have the opportunity to realize a long held ambition of making BBC Earth 3D feature films. Earth demonstrated the huge appetite of audiences for quality natural history filmmaking and the 3D experience of Walking with Dinosaurs and Africa will allow audiences to immerse themselves in our incredible content as never before."
The deal was negotiated over several months by BBC Worldwide's Managing Director, Global Brands Marcus Arthur and BBC Earth Director Amanda Hill across from IM Global CEO Stuart Ford and his board colleague Deepak Nayar on behalf of Reliance and IM Global. Miles Ketley, a partner in London law firm Wiggin & Co negotiated on behalf of BBC Worldwide and Reliance/IM Global were advised by Jackie Hurt a partner in London law firm Olswang.
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