Chimpanzee: See the Film, Save Chimpanzee

Disneynature takes moviegoers into the forests of Africa with “Chimpanzee,” a new True Life Adventure introducing an adorable young chimpanzee named Oscar and his entertaining approach to life in a remarkable story of family bonds and individual triumph. Oscar’s playful curiosity and zest for discovery showcase the intelligence and ingenuity of some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. Working together, Oscar’s chimpanzee family—including his mom, Isha, and the group’s savvy leader, Freddy—navigates the complex territory of the forest.

The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimpanzees, who’d rather make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar’s family is confronted by a rival band of chimpanzees, he is left to fend for himself until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever. The film is directed by Alastair Fothergill (“African Cats” and “Earth”) and Mark Linfield (“Earth”), produced by Fothergill, Linfield and Alix Tidmarsh, and narrated by Tim Allen (Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” ABC’s “Last Man Standing”). Don Hahn (“The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast”) is executive producer. Rated G by the MPAA, “Chimpanzee” swings into theaters on April 20, 2012, just in time for Earth Day.



“Making a film about chimpanzees for the big screen represents an exciting challenge because no one has really done it before,” says Fothergill. “This film is an amazing chance to take audiences into the middle of the rainforest with all its incredible sights and sounds and let them see chimpanzees as they have never been seen before.”



For Linfield, “Chimpanzee” fulfills a lifelong dream. “I have always wanted to make a film about chimpanzees and I don’t think there could be a more fascinating wildlife subject,” he says. “They can be playful and tender, cunning, loving, competitive, curious and simply full of fun. They’re just like us, or we’re just like them, however you want to think of it, and when they look out at us from the big screen, it’s impossible not to feel an extraordinary connection and be completely engaged.”



“All great films tell great stories,” adds Jean-François Camilleri, executive vice president and general manager, Disneynature, “and ‘Chimpanzee’ is completely compelling. It’s moving, very funny, full of adventure and excitement and it has great heart. It’s also a true story—all the behaviors you see really happened—and that’s something that I believe strongly appeals to today’s audiences.”



“I’m so happy that Disneynature started when it did,” says Linfield, “because this is a story that couldn’t be effectively told on television. On the big screen with surround sound, it’s like transporting people to the jungle. Suddenly you’re sitting in front of these life-size chimpanzees and you are looking into their eyes. It’s an amazing experience.”




“First and foremost, ‘Chimpanzee’ is a wonderful family film and a great adventure,” says Camilleri. “But I believe people will come out of the film entranced and marveling at these incredible creatures. And I think it’s with that sense of wonder that you can begin to change the world.”



With the continued survival of chimpanzees at risk from deforestation and poaching, Disneynature and the filmmakers also hope that “Chimpanzee” will inspire audiences to find out more about how we can protect these extraordinary animals with whom we seem to have so much in common.




“Disneynature movies are made to entertain audiences,” says Don Hahn, executive producer, “but there’s also a subtext to them, which is if we’re going to be caretakers of this planet and share it with all the other animals that inhabit this place, we need to be aware of their lives. One of the coolest things Disneynature does is to help moviegoers give back—from planting trees with ‘Earth’ to preserving coral reef with ‘Oceans’ and saving the savanna with ‘African Cats.’  For ‘Chimpanzee,’ we have this spectacular program with the Jane Goodall Institute called ‘See “Chimpanzee,” Save Chimpanzees.’”





For every moviegoer who sees “Chimpanzee” during the film’s opening week (April 20-26, 2012), Disneynature will make a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to protect chimpanzees today and tomorrow. Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr. Goodall’s pioneering research on chimpanzee behavior started more than 50 years ago—research that transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. Today, the Institute is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. It also is widely recognized for establishing innovative community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, the global environmental and humanitarian program for youth of all ages, which has groups in more than 120 countries.




Explains Hahn, “We want to say ‘come with your family, enjoy the film, let us entertain you—and check out the Jane Goodall Institute, because they’re doing really great things.’ Hopefully, audiences will take away a sense that we’re not alone on this planet: we live our daily lives, we go shopping, we pay the gas bill and sometimes we get so wrapped up in our problems that we forget that we live in this miraculous natural world and that could go away if we’re not careful. By being able to take the audience by the hand and show them a family that’s trying to make it just like they’re trying to make it—trying to eat and love and survive in this amazing world. We tell stories that are deeply involved in the characters and we take you places on the big screen that no one else can take you. So if these movies can inspire and educate and allow the audience to go off and make a difference, we’ll have really done our job.”




“Chimpanzee” is the fourth release from Disneynature, launched in April 2008 to bring the world’s top nature filmmakers together to capture a variety of wildlife subjects and stories. The first three releases under the Disneynature label—“Earth,” “Oceans” and “African Cats”—are among the top four highest-grossing feature-length nature films released in theaters in North America.




Conservation has been a key pillar of the label, and Disneynature films empower the audience to make a difference. Through donations tied to opening week attendance for all three films so far, Disneynature, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, has planted 3 million trees in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, established 40,000 acres of marine protected area in The Bahamas, and protected 65,000 acres of savanna in Kenya.




Disneynature continues the tradition of Walt Disney, who was a pioneer in wildlife documentary filmmaking, producing 13 True-Life Adventure films between 1948 and 1960, including “Seal Island” (1948), “Beaver Valley” (1950), “The Living Desert” (1953) and “Jungle Cat” (1958). The films earned eight Academy Awards®.