MK2 dives for Cousteau rights

Catalog includes 111 docs, 3 pics

PARIS — MK2 has obtained the 10 year rights to most of the film catalog of Jacques-Yves Cousteau from Europe Images International. The cinematic collection of one of the pioneers of underwater photography includes 111 documentaries and three full-length features.

Cousteau’s filmmaking career began in 1945 while he was still a French naval officer. With commercial camera film impossible to buy due to post-war austerity measures, the stock for “Shipwrecks” came from dozens of unexposed reels from children’s toy cameras that Cousteau’s wife had scavenged over the course of some months.

His best known work remains the documentaries shot while exploring bodies of water throughout the world aboard his ship the Calypso, including National Geographic specials and as executive producer of the TV series “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” (1966-73). Cousteau won three Oscars for feature docs “The Silent World” (1956), “The Golden Fish” (1959) and “World Without Sun” (1964). “The Silent World” also was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

2008 looks set to be a banner year for commemorating Cousteau’s long and versatile career as an inventor, explorer, naturalist and filmmaker, with MK2 planning a cinema retrospective of his feature films, as well as launching a new DVD collection and sponsoring lectures and exhibitions about his work, with an emphasis on Cousteau’s ground-breaking activities as a marine conservationist.