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Disneynature is an independent film unit of Walt Disney Studios that produces nature documentary films. The production company was founded on April 21, 2008, and is headquartered in Paris, France, and Burbank, California, United States.

GenreNatural documentary films
FoundedApril 21, 2008; 11 years ago (2008-04-21)
HeadquartersParis, France
Key people
Paul Baribault (vice president)[1]
ProductsMotion pictures
OwnerWalt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)

The company's nature films are consistently budgeted between $5 million to $10 million, with their distribution and marketing handled by Walt Disney Studios.[2] Many of its films are released on Earth Day.



Disney had a background in making nature films prior to the creation of Disneynature. From 1948 through 1960, the company produced the True-Life Adventures series, which won several Academy Awards.[2] Outside of film work, Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando has contributed to conservation causes by nursing endangered sea turtles back to health; returning white rhinos to Africa; and conducting a census of cotton-top tamarins, a monkey species native to Colombia. In addition, since its creation in 1995, the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund has given over $11 million to 650 conservation projects in 110 countries.[2]

After a long absence from nature documentaries, Disney decided to get back into the market after the French release of March of the Penguins. The film was given U.S. distribution through Warner Independent Pictures in 2005. Made on an $8 million budget, it grossed almost 10 times its budget at the U.S. box office and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2006.[2] Jean-Francois Camilleri, head of Buena Vista International France at the time, had the company acquire the film for the French market. Buena Vista International France also managed to obtain a 20% ownership stake in the French version of the film. However, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution's bid to distribute the film in the U.S. ultimately failed.[3] Disney CEO Bob Iger, in consideration of Disney's past efforts, felt that Penguins "should have been a Disney film worldwide". This was the impetus behind the creation of Disneynature.[2]


Disneynature was announced on April 21, 2008, a day before Earth Day, with a starting slate of seven films. Camilleri was set to head the new division. A multi-film production agreement was made with Alastair Fothergill, BBC's Planet Earth series producer, for three scheduled films: Earth (2009), African Cats (2011) and Chimpanzee (2012).[4] The other announced slate films and their release years were The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos (2008), Oceans (2010), Orangutans: One Minute to Midnight (2010) and Naked Beauty: A Love Story that Feeds the Earth (2011).[5] No decision was made at that time as to whether or not the studio would donate the films' proceeds to conservation causes.[2]

The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos was the first film produced for Disneynature.[6] The first film released domestically under the new label was Earth, opening on April 22, 2009, in the US.[2] In 2012, a Disneynature TV cable channel was launched in France. It is currently carried by France Telecom.[7]

Disneynature has recently expanded to China with the production of Born in China. The production was made possible due to an expansion of Disney's relationship with Shanghai Media Group starting in 2014.[8] In 2016, the company released its first compilation film, Growing Up Wild, direct-to-video (Blu-ray and DVD) and video on demand.[9][10]

Camilleri resigned his posts with Disney in March 2019. While Helene Etzi was appointed to take over his responsibility as head of Disney's French operations, there was no word on who would helm Disneynature.[11] The unit's first streaming film for Disney+ at its launch is Dolphin Reef.[1]


Film Released[12] Narrator (US)[10] Budget
Worldwide gross
Production company
Earth (North American distribution only)
October 10, 2007
James Earl Jones[2]
$47 $109
The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos
October 26, 2008
Mariella Frostrup[13]
Oceans (North American distribution only)
October 17, 2009
Pierce Brosnan
$80.0 $82.7
Wings of Life
March 16, 2011
Meryl Streep
  • Blacklight Films[5]
African Cats
April 22, 2011
Samuel L. Jackson[14]
$5 $30.9
  • Big Cats Productions[15]
April 20, 2012
Tim Allen[16]
$5 $34.8
April 18, 2014
John C. Reilly[17]
$5 $21.3
  • Bearsar Productions
Monkey Kingdom[18]
April 14, 2015
Tina Fey
$5-10 $17.1
  • Crazy Ape Productions
  • Silverback Films
Growing Up Wild
December 6, 2016
Daveed Diggs
L'Empereur (French distribution only)
15 February 2017[19]
Morgan Freeman
Hulu (US)[20]
Born in China
April 21, 2017
John Krasinski
$5-10 $25.1
Ghost of the Mountains
June 30, 2017
Antoine Fuqua
  • Brian Leith Productions
Expedition China
December 27, 2017
Maggie Q>
Blue (France)
Dolphin Reef
March 28, 2018
Cécile de France
Silverback Films[21]
November 12, 2019
Natalie Portman
April 17, 2019
Ed Helms[22]
Silverback Films

Growing Up WildEdit

Growing Up Wild is a direct-to-video film released in 2016 directed by Mark Linfield and Keith Scholey with Narrator Daveed Diggs. The films is based on clips from African Cats, Monkey Kingdom, Chimpanzee and Bears focused on "growing up".[10]


  1. ^ a b c Vlessing, Etan (April 22, 2019). "Natalie Portman to Narrate Disney's 'Dolphin Reef' Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Eller, Claudia; Dawn C. Chmielewski (April 22, 2008). "Disney gets back to nature". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  3. ^ Carvajal, Doreen (September 28, 2005). "Compared With Their Filmmakers, the Penguins Have It Easy". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  4. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (April 29, 2008). "Studios envision beast case scenario". The Hollywood Reporter. AP. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "Disney Gets Back To Nature..." (Press release). Walt Disney Studios. April 21, 2008. Retrieved January 6, 2017 – via Blue Sky Disney.
  6. ^ Davies, Caroline (January 10, 2009). "Disney film spotlights threat to spectacular flamingo lake". The Guardian. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "TV Channel: Disney Nature TV". MAVISE. European Audiovisual Observatory. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Disney Expands Relationship With China's Shanghai Media Group". Variety. April 10, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  9. ^ a b James, Will (December 25, 2016). "Disneynature's 'Growing Up Wild' on Digital HD". GeekDad. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d Hoffman, Jordan (April 17, 2019). "All 13 Disneynature Movies, Ranked". Thrillist. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  11. ^ Clarke, Stewart (March 26, 2019). "Disney's French Chief Jean-Francois Camilleri Exiting, Helene Etzi Upped". Variety. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Disneynature Movies at the Box Office - Box Office Mojo". Box Office, Inc. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "The Crimson Wing - Mystery of the Flamingos". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  14. ^ Hume, Tim (April 30, 2012). "Real-life 'Lion Kings': African big cats caught on film -". CNN. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Kilday, Gregg (May 19, 2009). "Disneynature starts up two new films". The Hollywood Reporter. AP. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  16. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (April 20, 2012). "Editorial Review: More than just a furry person". Washington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  17. ^ Chen, Sandie Angulo (April 17, 2014). "'Bears' movie review: A real-life struggle to survive". Washington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  18. ^ "Focus Sets Stephen Hawking Pic 'Theory Of Everything' For November; Disneynature Dates 'Monkey Kingdom' For 2015". Deadline Hollywood. April 10, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  19. ^ "L'Empereur de Luc Jacquet : la suite maudite de La Marche de l'Empereur". Avoir Alire - Critiques et news films, Livres, BD, musique, séries TV, Spectacles (in French). September 24, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  20. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray. "Hulu Picks Up Second Installment Of 'National Treasure'; Adds 'March of the Penguins 2'". Deadline. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  21. ^ "'Blue' review". Hollywood Reporter. April 7, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  22. ^ Kylie Hemmert (February 26, 2019). "Penguins: Ed Helms to Narrate Disneynature's Feature Film". Retrieved February 26, 2019.

External linksEdit