Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Buy a Ticket, and Disney Plants a Tree

Mar 26, 2009 6:04 AM, Brian Quinton for PROMO Xtra

First-week audiences for Disney’s eco-feature “Earth” can help replant the Brazilian rainforest.

To promote the first full-length theatrical film launched under its year-old Disneynature documentary label, the Walt Disney company is offering to plant a tree for every U.S. ticket it sells during the movie’s first week of release.

The entertainment giant has announced that it will plant a tree in honor of every moviegoer who sees the new eco-documentary “Earth” in its first week in theaters. The movie opens nationwide on Earth Day, April 22.

Advance tickets are on sale for the opening at the Web site Disneynature has set up for the film. Moviegoers can also get tickets by phone at 1-888-Disney8.

The film is directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, the creative team behind an Emmy-winning series “Planet Earth” filmed for the BBC and The Discovery Channel. It tells the story of climate change on the planet primarily through the experiences of three animal “families” of polar bears, African elephants and whales. It was released internationally in 2007 to critical acclaim, with U.K. narration by Patrick Stewart; the U.S. version uses a voiceover from James Earl Jones.

The Web site offers the movie trailer and short video footage of the animal families, “making of” excerpts, and the V spot promoting the picture, along with a photo gallery, wallpapers and both teaching and activity guides for download by educators. Visitors can also enter their ZIP code to locate a theater that will show “Earth” in its launch week.

The trees from the movie’s premiere will be planted in the Atlantic Forest region of Brazil, now about 7% of its original size and considered by conservationists to be the most endangered rainforest area on the planet. Disney maintains that it is committed not just to planting the trees but to making sure they are cared for over the long term.

“’Earth’ is a spectacular film from the world’s most acclaimed nature filmmakers, and we couldn’t think of a better way to launch the new Disneynature banner, and to celebrate the spirit of the film and Earth Day at the same time,” Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook said in a release.

In April 2008, Disney announced the formation of the Disneynature label, executives specifically cited the box-office performance of the 2005 Warner Independent film ”March of the Penguins” as proof that moviegoers wanted to see nature on the big screen and in SurroundSound and IMAX. That picture sold $124.5 million in tickets worldwide, including $4 million during its opening weekend, and went on to win a 2005 Academy Award for best documentary feature.

A post in the New York Times’ “Carpetbagger” movie blog calculates that dividing a $4 million opening week by a $7.29 average ticket price would produce almost 550,000 new trees in Brazil.

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