'Earth' producers launch online campaign


SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Saturday's world premiere of natural-history documentary "Earth" was just the first salvo in a global marketing onslaught planned by co-producers BBC Films and Greenlight Media.

Starting Monday, ahead of the film's European theatrical rollout, BBC/Greenlight will launch a co-coordinated multiterritory online campaign based around its "Earth"-themed Web site. The site, loveearth.com, will allow Internet users from Europe to Asia to the U.S. and South America to have access, in their own language, to a wide array of information about the film and the environmental issues it raises.

It's an unusual move for an independent film with no studio backing. "Earth" has presold to most big international territories, but its distribution network is the typical patchwork model seen in the indie world. Regional independent distributors such as Wanda Vision in Spain, Universum Film in Germany or Lionsgate in the U.S. have rarely if ever cooperated on the promotion of a film.

"These guys don't usually talk to one another, but for 'Earth' we wanted to have a global campaign so we set up what, in effect, is a mini-studio for the international rollout," the film's co-producer Alix Tidmarsh said. "We linked everyone up so that they could essentially steal each other's ideas (in promoting the movie). The effect is like a campaign for a studio release: When you go on-site, you get the same, global experience."

The documentary, directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, has already attracted considerable attention. Much of that is because of the multiple Emmy-winning success of "Planet Earth," the television series produced concurrently with the film by the same production team.

"Earth," the film, uses cutting-edge cinematography and satellite imaging technology to trace the perilous migrations of the families of a single polar bear, elephant and humpback whale.

Co-producer Sophokles Tasioulis of Greenlight said the idea to stage a global campaign to promote and support the film was there almost from the start.

"When you have a film called 'Earth,' it makes sense to launch it not in just one territory but all over the Earth at the same time," Tasioulis said.

The film's producers were initially pushing to do a global day-and-date theatrical release for "Earth," but the logistical challenge and individual market considerations among their distribution partners made that unfeasible.

Instead, "Earth" will have a near day-and-date rollout in Europe, where it bows first in France on Oct. 10, to be followed by the bulk of remaining European territories in October and November.