BBC, Reliance Big in movie co-production deal

Monday, November 1, 2010

LONDON - BBC Earth, the natural history brand for BBC Worldwide, and Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s Reliance Big Entertainment Tuesday announced a deal to partner on three motion pictures for the global audience.

All three films - “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D”, “Africa 3D” and “Life” - will be distributed by Reliance Entertainment’s international film sales and financing subsidiary IM Global, a statement by the groups said.

“By partnering Reliance BIG Entertainment, we have the opportunity to realise a long-held ambition of making BBC Earth 3D feature films,” said Marcus Arthur, BBC Worldwide’s managing director of global brands.

“‘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.”

This pact with BBC Earth is another major global project for the Anil Ambani Group after the one with Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider for DreamWorks Studios and the joint venture with the production company of Hollywood actor-director Tom Hanks to produce “Electric City” as an animated internet series and online game.

Reliance Big had also entered into development deals with the firms of Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.

In the latest BBC Earth partnership, the first theatrical feature to be co-produced will be a $65 million 3D live action feature “Walking with the Dinosaurs 3D” inspired by the BBC’s landmark brand under the same name.

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, who was formerly the head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit.

BBC Earth and Evergreen Films will be working with Academy Award-winning animation house Animal Logic of “Happy Feet” fame, and leading animation producer Jinko Gotoh, Associated with “9″ and “Finding Nemo” on the film.

The second co-production will be a $25 million documentary feature “Africa 3D” that will be filmed alongside BBC’s forthcoming major landmark TV series by the same name.

This production, too, will be in partnership with Evergreen Films.

Global distribution for both films will be handled by financing powerhouse IM Global which will begin international sales on “Walking with Dinosaurs” at the forthcoming American Film Market in Santa Monica.

At the Santa Monica event, 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, the companies said.

This documentary 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 of “Yellowstone” and “Life on Air” fame and Martha Holmes, who has been associated with “The Blue Planet” and “Life in the Freezer”, it has been produced by Magic Light Pictures’ Martin Pope and Michael Rose.

This film is inspired by the award winning TV series of the same name which has been broadcast in 50 countries and in the US and has garnered more than 75 million viewers, the two groups said.

BBC Earth’s previous feature film “Earth” grossed $119 million worldwide when it was released theatrically in 2007, while “Walking with Dinosaurs” broke new ground when it was first broadcast in 1999, with over 700 million viewers worldwide.

“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 two groups said.

The narrative of the feature tells the story of a migrating dinosaur family, torn apart and then reunited during the Cretaceous period, 70 million years ago.

The film will use new Lidar (Light, Detection and Ranging) technology to combine live action and animation in new ways, as well as groundbreaking 3D camera, to create a level of invisibility between the live action and virtual world never seen before.

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