Most Earth Weeks since 2007 have included the debut of a new Disneynature film and a new mark in the box-office record books, with the studio’s first six releases now ranking among the seven highest grossing nature films of all time.
This year’s Earth Week brings the most ambitious Disneynature film yet to U.S. theaters. Opening on April 21, “Born in China” represents a unique collaboration between Eastern and Western filmmakers, uniting acclaimed Chinese director Lu Chuan with a team of American and British producers that include premiere nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman, and Academy Award-winning producer Roy Conli, known to many fans for his work on such Disney-animated hits as “Tangled” and “Big Hero 6.”
The film takes audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film, following a panda mother as her growing baby begins to seek independence, a mother snow leopard facing the very real drama of raising cubs in unforgiving environments and a two-year-old golden monkey who runs away after feeling displaced by his new baby sister.
I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Roy Conli to learn more about this enormous undertaking, and I’m pleased to share that conversation with you here. We discuss the challenge of the filmmaking environment in the wild, the differences and similarities between nature filmmaking and animation, his collaboration with Lu Chuan (who Roy now regards as “a brother”), the team’s pursuit of elusive snow leopards, and the impact he hopes “Born in China” will have beyond box office returns.
Speaking of impact and box office returns, see “Born in China” during its opening week in U.S. theaters (April 21-27, 2017), and Disneynature will make a donation through the Disney Conservation Fund to support the World Wildlife Fund to help protect wild pandas and snow leopards in China.
In the meantime, visit www.disney.com/BornInChina, where you can download a free Born in China Educator’s Guide and Activity Packet created in collaboration with our friends from Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team. It’s filled with fun family activities and tips for protecting nature, and it’s a great way to get kids excited about the film and the animals it aims to protect.
Happy Earth Week!