BBC Worldwide, Reliance Team to Distribute, Co-Produce Three Films

BBC Worldwide and Reliance Big Entertainment have pacted to co-produce and distribute three movies that will kick off with a 3D live action feature Walking With Dinosaurs, budgeted at $65 million.

The agreement involves BBC Earth, the BBC’s natural history brand, which oversaw the six-part TV documentary Walking With Dinosaurs, which first aired in the U.K. in 1999.

The film version will be co-directed by Pierre De Lespinois of 3D studio Evergreen Films and BBC Earth’s Neil Nightingale (formerly the head of the BBC Natural History Unit). BBC Earth and Evergreen will also work with animation house Animal Logic (Happy Feet) and animation producer Jinko Gotoh (9, Finding Nemo) on the film.

BBC Earth will also partner with Evergreen for the second picture in the pact -- the $25m documentary feature Arica 3D which will be filmed alongside Africa, the BBC’s upcoming television series.

All three films under the agreement will be distributed by Reliance’s international film sales and financing subsidiary, IM Global.

The deal was jointly announced Monday by Marcus Arthur, BBC Worldwide’s managing director of global brands, and IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford.

IM Global will be handling international sales on Dinosaurs at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, will kicks off Wednesday. 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.

Co-directed by Mike Gunton and Martha Holmes and produced by Magic Light Pictures’ Martin Pope and Michael Rose and inspired by the TV series of the same name, Life looks at the cycle of life in the animal kingdom.

BBC Earth’s previous feature film “Eearth” grossed $119 million worldwide when it was released theatrically in 2007.

“By partnering with Reliance Big Entertainment we have the opportunity to realise a long held ambition of making BBC Earth 3D feature films. 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,”  Arthur said.

The deal was negotiated by Arthur and BBC Earth director Amanda Hill and Ford and his IM Global board colleague Deepak Nayar. Miles Ketley, a partner in London law firm Wiggin & Co negotiated on behalf of BBC Worldwide and Reliance/IM Global were advised by Jackie Hurt, a partner in London law firm Olswang.

Reliance Big Pictures, part of India's Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, is also a partner in DreamWorks Studios and has development deals with Nicolas Cage, Jime Carrey, George Clooney, Chris Columbus, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Jay Roach, Brett Ratner, Julia Roberts and Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.