Company typeDivision
GenreNature films
FoundedApril 21, 2008; 15 years ago (2008-04-21) in Burbank, California, U.S.
HeadquartersParis, France
Area served
Key people
Paul Baribault (VP & GM)[1]
ProductsMotion pictures
ParentDisney Entertainment

Disneynature is an independent film studio that specializes in the production of nature documentary films for Walt Disney Studios, a division of Disney Entertainment, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. The production company was founded on April 21, 2008, and is headquartered in Paris, France.

The company's nature films are consistently budgeted between $5 million to $10 million, with their distribution and marketing handled by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.[2] The label's event films are released on Earth Day and have a conservation campaign based on the feature of the film with an appropriate conservation charity receiving donations based on tickets sold,[3] at a pace of one per year.[4] The eight Disneynature theatrical films have a gross of $151.6 million at the box office, at an average of $19 million, with Earth the top earner at $32 million.[5]


Disney had a background in making nature films prior to the creation of Disneynature; Bambi (1942) featured forest life and was a hit.[4] From 1948 through 1960, the company produced the True-Life Adventures series, which won several Academy Awards.[2] Outside of film work, Disney parks were involved. Disneyland in 1955 opened the Jungle Cruise ride. Walt Disney World includes Disney's Animal Kingdom, which is a theme park crossed with a zoo.[4] Animal Kingdom has contributed to conservation causes by nursing endangered sea turtles back to health, returning white rhinos to Africa and conducting a census of cotton-top tamarins, a monkey species native to Colombia. In addition, since its creation in 1995, the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund has given over $11 million to 650 conservation projects in 110 countries.[2]

After a long absence from nature documentaries, Disney decided to get back into the market after the French release of March of the Penguins. The film was given U.S. distribution through Warner Independent Pictures in 2005. Made on an $8 million budget, it grossed almost 10 times its budget at the U.S. box office and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2006.[2] Jean-Francois Camilleri, head of Buena Vista International France at the time, had the company acquire the film for the French market. Buena Vista International France also managed to obtain a 20% ownership stake in the French version of the film, but Buena Vista Pictures Distribution's bid to distribute the film in the U.S. ultimately failed.[6] Disney CEO Bob Iger, in consideration of Disney's past efforts, felt that Penguins "should have been a Disney film worldwide". This was the impetus behind the creation of Disneynature. The film's 2007 follow-up was Arctic Tale, which only took in $1.8 million worldwide.[2] Paul Baribault, Vice President of Disney Studios Marketing, led the US efforts for Disneynature from 2008 forward, overseeing all marketing, production, brand development, and conservation programmatic efforts for the label. He was eventually named general manager of Disneynature.


Disneynature was announced on April 21, 2008, a day before Earth Day, with a starting slate of seven films. Camilleri was set to head the new division. A multi-film production agreement was made with Alastair Fothergill, BBC's Planet Earth series producer, for three scheduled films: Earth (2009), African Cats (2011) and Chimpanzee (2012).[7] The other announced slate films and their release years were: The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos (2008), Oceans (2010), Orangutans: One Minute to Midnight (2010) and Wings of Life (2011).[8] Original announced plans had the division releasing two films per year,[9] which was curtailed by April 2009 due to a nature film's long period needed to film wildlife.[4] No decision was made at that time as to whether or not the studio would donate the films' proceeds to conservation causes.[2]

The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos was the first film produced for Disneynature.[10] The first film released domestically under the new label was Earth, opening on April 22, 2009, in the US.[2] In 2012, a Disneynature TV cable channel was launched in France. It is currently carried by France Telecom.[11]

Animal Planet pick up for a two-year period three Disneynature films, Oceans, African Cats, and The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, in April 2012 from Disney-ABC Domestic Television.[12] In April 2014, Jane Goodall was named Disneynature ambassador.[13]

Disneynature has recently expanded to China with the production of Born in China. The production was made possible due to an expansion of Disney's relationship with Shanghai Media Group starting in 2014.[14] Following Born in China, Ghost of the Mountains and Expedition China were released to Netflix to reflect the incredible journeys involved in creating these films. In 2016, the company released its first compilation film, Growing Up Wild, direct-to-video (Blu-ray and DVD) and video on demand.[15][16]

Paul Baribault, vice president of studio marketing and Disneynature, was appointed general manager of Disneynature officially in 2018, after having been operating in the capacity for several years. Camilleri resigned his posts with Disney in March 2019. Helene Etzi was appointed to take over his responsibility as head of Disney's French operations. The unit's first streaming films for Disney+ were Dolphin Reef and Elephant.[1]


Film Companion documentary Market[8] Release date[5] Narrator[16] Budget
Worldwide gross
Production company
The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos N/A Worldwide October 26, 2008 (France)
October 27, 2010 (United States)
Mariella Frostrup[17]
Earth N/A North America and South America April 22, 2009 Patrick Stewart (UK)
James Earl Jones (US)[2]
$47 $109
OceanWorld 3D N/A US 2009 Cannes Film Festival, Marché du Film Marion Cotillard 3D Entertainment[3]
Oceans N/A US April 22, 2010 Jacques Perrin (FR)
Pierce Brosnan (US)
$80.0 $82.7
Wings of Life N/A Worldwide April 16, 2011 Meryl Streep Blacklight Films[8]
African Cats N/A April 22, 2011 Patrick Stewart (UK)[18]
Samuel L. Jackson (US)
$5 $30.9 Big Cats Productions[19]
Chimpanzee N/A April 20, 2012 Tim Allen[20] $5 $34.8 Great Ape Productions[19]
Bears N/A US April 18, 2014 John C. Reilly[21] $5 $21.3 Bearsar Productions
Monkey Kingdom N/A April 17, 2015[22] Tina Fey $5–10 $17.1 Crazy Ape Productions
Growing Up Wild[a] N/A December 6, 2016 Daveed Diggs[15]
L'Empereur (March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step) N/A France February 15, 2017[23] Morgan Freeman
Born in China Ghost of the Mountains Worldwide April 21, 2017 John Krasinski $5–10 $25.1
Expedition China[b]
Blue (France) Diving with Dolphins France March 28, 2018 Cécile de France Silverback Films[24]
Dolphin Reef (US)[16] US April 3, 2020 Natalie Portman Silverback Films
Penguins Penguins: Life on the Edge April 17, 2019 Ed Helms $7.7 Silverback Films[26]
Elephant In the Footsteps of Elephant Worldwide April 3, 2020 Meghan, Duchess of Sussex Disney+[25]
Polar Bear Bear Witness April 22, 2022 Catherine Keener Disney+[27]
Tiger Tigers on the Rise Worldwide April 22, 2024 Priyanka Chopra Disney+[28]


  1. ^ Growing Up Wild is a direct-to-video nature documentary film released on December 6, 2016, directed by Mark Linfield and Keith Scholey, with narration provided by Daveed Diggs. The film, which is based on clips from African Cats, Monkey Kingdom, Chimpanzee, and Bears, focuses on "growing up".[16]
  2. ^ Expedition China is a Netflix original nature documentary film released on December 27, 2017, directed by Ben Wallis with narration by Maggie Q. The film which is based on clips from Born in China focuses on exploring the most remote wildlands in China.[16]


  1. ^ a b Vlessing, Etan (April 22, 2019). "Natalie Portman to Narrate Disney's 'Dolphin Reef' Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Eller, Claudia; Dawn C. Chmielewski (April 22, 2008). "Disney gets back to nature". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e King, Geoff; Molloy, Claire; Tzioumakis, Yannis (2013). American Independent Cinema: Indie, Indiewood and Beyond. Routledge. pp. 173–175. ISBN 9780415684286. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Barnes, Brooks (April 10, 2009). "In 'Earth,' Disneynature Balances Cuddliness and Reality". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Disneynature Movies at the Box Office – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo.com. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  6. ^ Carvajal, Doreen (September 28, 2005). "Compared With Their Filmmakers, the Penguins Have It Easy". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  7. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (April 29, 2008). "Studios envision beast case scenario". The Hollywood Reporter. AP. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Disney Gets Back To Nature..." (Press release). Walt Disney Studios. April 21, 2008. Retrieved January 6, 2017 – via Blue Sky Disney.
  9. ^ Glaister, Dan (April 23, 2008). "Disney launches unit to make cinematic nature documentaries". The Guardian. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  10. ^ Davies, Caroline (January 10, 2009). "Disney film spotlights threat to spectacular flamingo lake". The Guardian. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  11. ^ "TV Channel: Disney Nature TV". MAVISE. European Audiovisual Observatory. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  12. ^ Whittingham, Clive (April 24, 2012). "Animal Planet picks Disney docs". C21 Media. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  13. ^ Terrero, Nina (April 10, 2014). "Jane Goodall Q&A: Scientist talks Disneynature Ambassador role, more". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Disney Expands Relationship With China's Shanghai Media Group". Variety. April 10, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  15. ^ a b James, Will (December 25, 2016). "Disneynature's 'Growing Up Wild' on Digital HD". GeekDad. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e Hoffman, Jordan (April 17, 2019). "All 13 Disneynature Movies, Ranked". Thrillist. Retrieved May 9, 2019. For some reason, the team nixed the Natalie Portman-narrated Dolphins last year, only a week before its release. (A version was released in France under the name Blue.)
  17. ^ "The Crimson Wing – Mystery of the Flamingos". www.bbfc.co.uk. British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  18. ^ Hume, Tim (April 30, 2012). "Real-life 'Lion Kings': African big cats caught on film - CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  19. ^ a b Kilday, Gregg (May 19, 2009). "Disneynature starts up two new films". The Hollywood Reporter. AP. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  20. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (April 20, 2012). "Editorial Review: More than just a furry person". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 15, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  21. ^ Chen, Sandie Angulo (April 17, 2014). "'Bears' movie review: A real-life struggle to survive". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  22. ^ "Focus Sets Stephen Hawking Pic 'Theory Of Everything' For November; Disneynature Dates 'Monkey Kingdom' For 2015". Deadline Hollywood. April 10, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  23. ^ "L'Empereur de Luc Jacquet: la suite maudite de La Marche de l'Empereur". Avoir Alire – Critiques et news films, Livres, BD, musique, séries TV, Spectacles (in French). September 24, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  24. ^ "'Blue' review". Hollywood Reporter. April 7, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  25. ^ a b Vary, Adam B. (March 26, 2020). "Meghan Markle Narrating Disney Plus Nature Documentary 'Elephants'". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  26. ^ Kylie Hemmert (February 26, 2019). "Penguins: Ed Helms to Narrate Disneynature's Feature Film". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  27. ^ Palmer, Roger (January 14, 2022). "DisneyNature "Polar Bear" Coming To Disney+ On Earth Day". What's On Disney Plus. Archived from the original on January 14, 2022. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  28. ^ Disney Plus (March 15, 2024). "Priyanka Chopra Jonas to Narrate Disneynature's "Tiger"". press.disneyplus. Retrieved March 15, 2024.