The Walt Disney Company has established a new production banner, Disneynature, through which it hopes to put two new nature docs a year to theaters starting in 2009 with “Earth,” then on to “Oceans” and “Chimpanzee.” Despite the apparently enviro-angle, Brook Barnes at the New York Times points out this move is mainly just business-savvy:
Disney hopes that nature’s broad appeal will help the studio expand overseas. The company’s films have long been successful in foreign countries, but Disney faces cultural barriers in some developing markets like China and India. Nature documentaries, with film gathered from around the globe, cross borders much more easily.
The initiative holds strategic importance for the company beyond the box office. Mr. Iger said the company’s consumer products unit would probably develop a line of “beautiful books” based on Disneynature films. Nature sells well on DVD. And the theme parks unit could develop attractions built around 3-D nature films.
“Earth” is due out, natch, on Earth Day next year the trailer’s here, replete with adorable, beautifully photographed penguins, monkeys, polar bears and elephants, and very few implications that these photogenic animals might eat or get eaten by other photogenic animals.
At the Washington Post, Edward Norton, who’s been hosting the PBS environmental issue series “Strange Days on Planet Earth,” takes questions from the crowd about the show and his involvement. It’s well-moderated enough that no one slips in any “Incredible Hulk” dispute queries, but this does get through:
Dude, You’re an Actor: It’s great that you care about the planet and all, but you’re an actor. Is acting just a sideline from your academic research career, or is there some other reason you think you should be telling us what to do?
Edward Norton: I’m not telling anybody what to do. Do whatever you want. I’m just interested.
[Photo: “Earth,” Disneynature, 2008]
+ Disney Looks to Nature, and Creates a Film Division to Capture It (NY Times)
+ Trailer: “Earth” (Quicktime)
+ Green Week: ‘Strange Days on Planet Earth’ (Washington Post)