Microsoft's Paul Allen Producing Eco-Thriller by 'The Cove' Director (Exclusive)

Racing Extinction - H 2014

The tech giant's co-founder and an Oscar winner try to save the world with a movie

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Productions has signed on as a partner of the Oceanic Preservation Society’s documentary Racing Extinction, by Oscar-winning director Louie Psihoyos (The Cove).

The film, about undercover activists trying to stave off a man-made mass extinction, screened on Apr. 27 as a work in progress at Tribeca Film Festival, before Allen funded its completion. The film is "almost locked," says a publicist, and will premiere across theatrical, broadcast and digital platforms in 2015, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. 

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"It's like The Avengers, but real," Psihoyos tells THR. “We do a lot of undercover work. Stuff that is very dangerous, where if you get caught you can go to jail or worse. The trick is to make a film people will want to go see on a Friday night, and transcend the film festival circuit.”

Racing Extinction is a documentary thriller, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before," says Carole Tomko, Vulcan creative director and general manager, "that tells a fast-paced story of our mass extinction and its drivers. The campaign picks up where the film leaves off, giving audiences the tools they need to make change in their backyard and building a movement of inspired, activated fans united to make a difference."

Vulcan will oversee all aspects of a global campaign to activate audiences to see the film and take action on mass species extinction and climate change, via a multi-faceted digital and social media platform, educational tools, impact measurement and partner outreach.

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On Sept. 20, images of endangered species and habitats were projected on the United Nations building during the 2014 UN General Assembly. The 30-story-high projection delivered a call for citizens of the world to demand action from their leaders to protect the world’s ecosystems by addressing issues of illegal wildlife trade, mass species extinction, ocean acidification and climate change. Psihoyos and the filmmaking team filmed the event, which will become a climactic part of the final film.

"Humanity is one step away from greatness or disaster, and it could be that a film helps save us," says Psihoyos. "But we will need the support of Vulcan to achieve this goal." The film's working title was 6, because some scientists believe we have entered the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history, with as many as half the species on the planet at risk of vanishing by the century's end. Number five took out the dinosaurs. This era is called the Anthropocene, or “Age of Man,” because the evidence shows that humanity has sparked this catastrophic loss. It is the premise of Racing Extinction that we are the only ones who can stop it as well.

The filmmakers said in a statement, "The first threat to the wild comes from the international trade of wildlife. Bogus markets are being created at the expense of creatures who have survived on this planet for millions of years. The other threat is all around us, hiding in plain sight. There’s a hidden world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see."