Giant-Screen Imax Documentaries Headed to Hulu (Exclusive)

Pandas - Still 2 - Narrated by Kristen Bell -Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Warner Brothers Entertainment

At least 16 epic films including 'Pandas,' 'A Beautiful Planet' and 'Into the Deep' will be available exclusively on the streaming service starting this summer.

Imax has struck a deal with Hulu that will see at least 16 of its giant-screen documentaries play exclusively on the streaming platform starting this summer.

Hulu subscribers will be able to go to the ends of the Earth and into space with Imax catalog titles like Pandas, Into the Deep, Space Station and A Beautiful Planet, narrated by Jennifer Lawrence. Terms of the distribution deal brokered by CAA Media Finance were not disclosed, but Imax is looking to get extra play for its library docs while its own giant screens are shuttered amid the coronavirus outbreak and Americans are binge-watching while sheltering in their homes.

And Imax Entertainment president Megan Colligan told The Hollywood Reporter she sees opportunities for Hulu subscribers and their families and friends to view together epic documentaries about nature conservation, science and other topical issues. "We have this really excellent library of documentary content and it spans the range of films about nature, science, space; and we're living in a moment where people are thirsty for great content and also where people are largely in their homes. School has ended and many kids and families across the country are searching for co-viewing content," Colligan explained.

The Imax deal follows Hulu starting to test a new co-viewing feature to enable virtual movie nights popular with Americans isolating at home. Hulu Watch Party, the streamer's first social feature, will allow subscribers in different places to co-view a TV show or movie.

At the same time, big screen Imax documentaries have traditionally left filmgoers in awe when viewed on eight-story screens and with surround sound speakers. Colligan said Imax documentaries that offer a bird's eye view of the world will also impress Hulu subscribers when screened on their tablets, laptops or flat screen TVs as they bring new experiences.

"They are absolutely crafted for immersive sound and the immersive screen. That being said, they're filled with really specific experiences in our world and information about science and exploration. Right now, the idea of dreaming of going to space, about science for kids and families, it's a reminder of an important piece of what these stories offer," she argued.

Other Imax documentaries headed to Hulu include Superpower Dogs, the Oscar-nominated Fires of Kuwait, Galapagos, Hail Columbia! and Journey to the South Pacific, narrated by Cate Blanchett.

The Hulu slate deal also comes as rivals Amazon and Netflix do more theatrical plays for their movies and Imax is in talks with streaming giants to super-size their releases.

Colligan said Hulu was chosen for this slate deal specifically for its support for the traditional documentary in its programming lineup.