Coming off its highest rated February in history, the National Geographic Channel is unveiling a slate of four new and seven returning series at its upfront presentation. The new series include Die Trying, featuring men and women pushing the limits of endurance; Building Wild, an extreme do-it-yourself-type home building series; Showdown of the Unbeatables, a battle of cutting-edge inventions; and The Legend Of Mick Dodge, described as “Forrest Gump meets the Jungle Man,” about a man who lives on his terms and his band of quirky friends. “We want to keep the momentum, coming off pour best year (2012) and month (February) with a mix of contemporary entertainment styles,” said NGC Chief Executive Officer David Lyle.
Additionally, Nat Geo brass are so high on two of its upcoming series, Brain Games (premiering in April), an interactive series exploring mind’s skills hosted by Jason Silva; and Ultimate Survival Alaska (premiering in May), an extreme adventure series testing a team of explorers, that the network is granting both second-season renewals before their freshman ones had debuted. Lyle stressed that Brain Games‘ take on science is “smart rather than intellectual while NGC president Howard T. Owens noted Survival Alaska‘s breakout potential. Also receiving series renewals are hits Doomsday Preppers, NGC’s highest-rated series, Wicked Tuna and Diggers. And while the slate presented to advertisers is dominated by unscripted fare, Nat Geo also is committed to growing its scripted area following the success of its first scripted offering, the Scott Free-produced factual drama special Killing Lincoln. “The DNA of the channel is to take creative risks and make bold moves and not be afraid to be different,” said Owens. NGC is getting some attention with the gritty docu series Inside Combat Rescue and has also coming up acquired feature documentary Chasing Ice and two-hour special American Blackout. Paired with Doomsday Preppers, the real-life Revolution imagines the first two weeks immediately following a catastrophic blackout and “will be filmed as a full-throttle disaster movie,” Owens said. Sibling Nat Geo Wild’s slate includes a new Cesar Millan series and two specials featuring the dog whisperer. Here are descriptions of NGC and Nat Geo Wild’s newly picked up series. Read More »
Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.
This year’s crop of contenders—a doc tune, a musical melody, a jazz ditty, and an Indian lullaby—are similar to the genres that the category has recognized in recent years. Pop-radio songs, which arguably have been sparse over the last 10 years with the exception of the Beyoncé-performed Dreamgirls song “Listen” and Eminem’s Oscar winner “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile, marked their return this year with Adele’s James Bond ballad “Skyfall”. A glance at this year’s best song nominees:
“Before My Time” | Chasing Ice
Music and lyrics by J. Ralph
Where it’s heard in the film: End credits
Backstory: Looking to bring emotion to glacial meltdown, J. Ralph, who scored the Oscar-winning docs The Cove and Man on Wire, enlisted the breathy vocals of Scarlett Johansson and the touching high notes of violinist Joshua Bell. “As the song plays over the final sequence of the film”, Ralph says, “I wanted to create a transportive, hypnotic experience where the audience could absorb all they had seen, as if Scarlett is singing to each person individually. The song explores the dialogue between mankind and nature and the perception of time. In the end, no one is bigger than Mother Nature”.
Odds: Given the Academy’s penchant for songs that earnestly jibe with a film’s sensibility, don’t count out “Before My Time” just because it’s tagged to the end … Read More »
Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
Chasing Ice froze out the specialty competition among newcomers on this Skyfall weekend. The documentary released by sales company Submarine’s distribution label grossed $21,000 in a single theater, NYC’s Cinema Village. The company’s Dan Braun noted the film had a big promotional push from key groups including North Face. Advanced group sales were significant. Other titles fared comparatively soft in their launches, with one distrib suggesting that the Skyfall juggernaut and Lincoln — which averaged $81,818 across 11 cinemas — had attracted a sizable chunk of specialty business. Magnolia’s A Royal Affair averaged $5,714 in 7 locations, while Music Box’s Starlet averaged $2,670 from 6. Kino Lorber’s Isabella Huppert-starrer In Another Country debuted in a single location with $3,500, and Tribeca Film’s The Comedy took in $6K at one cinema. Cinedigm/Flat Iron did not report figures for Citadel.
Chasing Ice next will next uptown to the Elinor Brunin Munroe Film Center and expand into 10 additional markets next week. “We’re doing a fairly traditional release with VOD planned later,” said Submarine’s Dan Braun. “The film is obviously striking a chord with the current interest in climate change.”
Magnolia’s A Royal Affair debuted in seven theaters with a total gross of $40K. The Berlinale debut has grossed more than $6 million worldwide, but its appeal in the U.S. is still unclear. “It’s performed terrifically in other English territories including UK and Australia…” noted Magnolia’s Matt Cowal. Read More »
Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.
Foreign and domestic titles from the festival circuit will make their theatrical debuts this weekend. Bernadette Peters and French actress Isabelle Huppert will open their latest respective films Coming Up Roses and In Another Country. Starlet with Dree Hemingway has a San Fernando Valley adult film industry bent, while Citadel won SXSW Festival’s Audience Midnight section prize. Film sales outfit Submarine releases the climate-change documentary Chasing Ice via its distribution label Submarine Deluxe, scoring talk show attention as a result of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, while Magnolia’s A Royal Affair will get a traditional theatrical rollout.
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Writer: Mark Monroe
Subjects: James Balog, Svavar Jonatansson, Adam LeWinter
Distributor: Submarine Deluxe
Hurricane Sandy’s devastation resulted in some attention for this documentary which focuses on climate change. “Because of the storm, we were able to get on the Bill Maher Show,” Submarine Deluxe’s Dan Braun said. “The film is about beauty and one person’s personal obsession. We don’t have an actual tagline, but it’s also about capturing the world’s climate change” on film.
Submarine had a previous relationship with Chasing Ice producers, after selling the Oscar-winning doc The Cove to Roadside Attractions at Sundance. Chasing Ice initially went to Oscilloscope, but changes at that company lead the title back to Submarine and its distribution label which also released Being Elmo last year. The title will open in New York and Los Angeles before expanding to 10 other markets. “We’re doing a fairly traditional release with VOD planned later,” said Braun. “We are marketing it with other organizations and have a robust ground-game for this one. North Face is partnering and advanced group sales with other organizations have been great.” Read More »