EXCLUSIVE: Netflix is doubling down on big-budget natural history – signing an overall deal with Blue Planet II creator James Honeyborne. The SVOD service has inked a multi-year deal with Honeyborne to produce nature and science series through his production company Freeborne Media.
This comes less than a month after Honeyborne left the BBC’s Natural History Unit to launch Freeborne Media with director Renée Godfrey.
It is Netflix’s latest move into the big-budget natural history world – it is launching Our Planet, from the creators of Planet Earth, later this year.
The pair established Freeborne Media to produce “powerful” and “impactful” nature and science documentaries. The company will be based in Bristol in the UK – widely seen as the center of wildlife film-making and the home of Honeyborne’s former employer, the BBC’s Natural History Unit.
Honeyborne has worked at the NHU since the early 1990s and has overseen 35 films for the division. In addition to ratings hit Blue Planet II, which launched last year, he produced BBC’s Big Blue Live, which was a co-production with PBS, and Wild New Zealand with Nat Geo. He also series produced BBC and Discovery co-pro Africa. He also directed feature film Meerkats the Movie, which was narrated by Paul Newman.
Lisa Nishimura, VP of Documentaries and Comedy at Netflix, said, “James has created some of the most captivating natural history series of our time, with breathtaking sweep and vision. I am thrilled that he will be working with us at Netflix, bringing his unique exploration of the wonders of the natural world to our viewers.”
Honeyborne added, “Freeborne is excited to be working with Netflix and for the new creative opportunities that will arise from our partnership. Today, wildlife and wild places are facing unprecedented challenges. There is a pressing need to tell important, surprising and inspiring stories about our world. Working with Netflix means we can create game-changing documentaries that can reach and engage a huge global audience.”