Japanese distrib grabs natural history pic

LONDON — Japanese distrib Gaga has picked up the $15 million natural history movie “Planet Earth” from BBC Worldwide and Germany’s Greenlight Media in a seven-figure deal.

Three years in the making, “Planet Earth,” directed by Alastair Fothergill and the team behind “Deep Blue,” will be an epic journey of life through the seasons, from the Arctic spring to the Antarctic winter.

The movie — which has already been sold to Gaumont in France, Wanda for Spain and Frenetic in Switzerland — was produced as part of a long-term multi-film agreement between BBC and Greenlight to bring the output of the BBC’s Natural History Unit to the bigscreen.

“This is an unprecedented deal and agreeing it with Gaga will ensure the movie is seen by the widest possible audience in Japan,” said BBC Worldwide’s Alix Tidmarsh, producer of “Planet Earth.”

Gaga prexy-CEO Yasuhide Uno said, “We are extremely proud to have secured this deal for what we consider to be the most ambitious project of the leading producers of natural history documentaries around the world.”

BBC’s “Deep Blue” was distributed in more than 20 territories and generated box office of $30 million. It became the highest-grossing documentary film in Germany and broke B.O. records in Japan.

Since its pre-Christmas DVD release, more than 480,000 units have been sold in Germany, France, U.K. and Switzerland. In Japan, the DVD was the first doc ever to become No. 1 in the DVD charts and sold more than 110,000 copies on its first day.

Miramax launched “Deep Blue” in selected cities in the U.S. in early June and will expand it across the country later this month.

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