Mandalay inks deal with Imax

Smithsonian to co-produce 3-D 'Galapagos' docu

Mandalay Media Arts, the nonfiction programming entity launched last year by Peter Guber with partners Al Giddings and Barry Clark, has teamed with Imax Corp. and the Smithsonian Institution to produce a 40-minute, large-format 3-D film on the Galapagos Islands titled “Galapagos: The Enchanted Voyage.”

Imax and the Smithsonian are jointly financing the project, budgeted in the $7 million range, with Imax distributing the film to the worldwide network of Imax and Imax 3-D theaters.

Guber and Clark are exec producing the pic, which is scheduled for an eight-week production during June and July on the remote island archipelago off the coast of Ecuador.

The film will be co-produced and directed by veteran documentary filmmaker David Clark and renowned undersea director-cinematographer Al Giddings. Both men have teamed before on the 2-D large-format film “Whales.”

“Galapagos” follows Carole Baldwin, a young marine biologist on a Smithsonian scientific expedition, as she explores the natural wonders that lie under the islands’ surrounding waters. It links her story with Charles Darwin’s historic exploration of the islands in 1835.

Sixty percent of the film will be shot underwater down to depths of 3,000 feet. This will be a pioneering task for Giddings, who will direct the underwater sequences using a 3-D Imax camera which, along with its housing, weighs 1,700 pounds.

Pic is story-driven and has “not been engineered for sharks going in your face,” according to Barry Clark, who scripted from a story by David Clark. The film is intended to draw the audience into the personal drama of Baldwin’s first experience in a deep sea submersible.

“I think we are reaching that point with large format where it is becoming an effective storytelling medium,” Clark said.

Guber, who’s been an advocate of Imax since his days at Sony, and Barry Clark chose the Imax 3-D format primarily for its persuasive power.

“We want to push the envelope in creating an immersive experience for the audience, and Imax 3-D is the way to achieve that in the theater,” Clark said.

“Galapagos” is intended to serve as the signature film for the Imax 3-D theater currently under construction at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.