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Discovery draws up giant plan for ‘Wings’

Large-format aviation pic in development

Discovery Pictures, the large-format and specialty film division of Discovery Communications, which just premiered its second large-format pic “Wildfire: Feel the Heat” in March, has begun development on “Wings,” a giant-screen film about aviation.

The film will add to a growing suite of products under the Discovery Wings franchise, which includes a series on Discovery Channel, “Wings” CD-ROMs, a video series, merchandising and a ride simulation film (Daily Variety, Nov. 10).

The internally generated story will attempt to tell the history of aviation, but not necessarily in a traditional chronological fashion.

“For all of our approaches, we’ll try to take a documentary format and put a sense of story and emotion into it,” said Linda Isaac, VP of marketing at Discovery Pictures. “In development, we’ll figure out how much of this is going to be about the history, how much will be from a personal angle.”

Discovery has its own independent financing and is prepared to fully fund the project itself, as it did with its first two large-format pics, “Africa’s Elephant Kingdom” and “Wildfire.” However, the company is also exploring potential co-financing partnerships.

The pic’s budget depends on whether it will be 2-D or 3-D. The filmmakers will run tests during pre-production to determine how flight works in large-format 3-D.

“We want to make sure that that same visceral feeling you get in 2-D, you do get in 3-D,” said Patrice Andrews, VP of production for Discovery Themed Entertainment, noting that “3-D tends to sort of narrow your view.”

Discovery will likely employ the same aviation specialists who just completed the simulator ride film “Wings: Thrill of Flight,” due out next month. Included among them is David Nowell, a cinematographer who worked on “Armageddon,” “Air Force One,” “Apollo 13” and “Top Gun.”

Discovery is for the first time considering distributing the large-format pic itself; it used outside distributors on its previous two pics: “Elephant” (Imax) and “Wildfire” (Primesco).

“We think with the coming centennial of powered flight, the large screen is the perfect place for Discovery to continue to tell the story of aviation,” said David Karp, senior VP and general manager of Discovery Themed Entertainment.