Chris Hemsworth, Will Smith and Darren Aronofsky lead National Geographic projects for Disney+
James R | On 13, Dec 2020
What do Chris Hemsworth, Will Smith and Darren Aronofsky have in common? They’re all involved in the National Geographic originals currently in the pipeline for Disney+.
With more than 1,500 hours of National Geographic content available on Disney’s subscription streaming service, Disney has become a home for educational documentaries and landmark wildlife and natural history series, as well fact-based scripted drama.
“National Geographic reminds us that the world is still an amazing and miraculous place, filled with spectacular beauty and wonder, which we are thrilled to share with the Disney+ audience,” said National Geographic content president Courteney Monroe at this week’s Disney Investor Day event. Monroe went on to unveil a slate of high-profile original projects for Disney+, including Limitless with Chris Hemsworth, Welcome to Earth with Will Smith, a fourth season of the anthology series Genius.
Also announced was the new documentary film Cousteau, which will debut in cinemas before coming to Disney+, as well as new documentary series Secrets of the Whales, A Real Bug’s Life and America the Beautiful.
What if you could combat aging and discover the full potential of the human body? Limitless with Chris Hemsworth explores this idea. Created by Darren Aronofsky and hailing from his production company Protozoa Pictures and Jane Root’s Nutopia, the series promises to explore new scientific research that is “shattering conventional wisdom about the human body and offering fascinating insights into how we can all unlock our body’s superpowers to fight illness, perform better and even reverse the ageing process”. This science is put to the test by Hemsworth, who, despite being in peak superhero-condition, is on a personal mission to learn how to stay young, healthy, strong, and resilient.
Also hailing from Jane Root’s Nutopia and Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures is Welcome to Earth, which will see Will Smith embark on a global journey to unlock the secrets of the most extraordinary and unexplained phenomena of nature. In each episode, Smith—whose curiosity and wonder is positively infectious—is guided by National Geographic Explorers traveling to different corners of the world to get up close and personal with the weirdest, most unusual, dangerous and thrilling spectacles of the planet. Their mission is to seek out the things and places beyond human perception: the hidden worlds that we can’t see, smell, hear or feel without the aid of cutting-edge technology.
Cousteau, from National Geographic Documentary Films, will chart the life of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau through previously unseen archival material. Featuring never-before-seen 4K footage from the Cousteau Society’s archives, Cousteau will provide audiences a “deep dive” into the renowned explorer’s remarkable life, revealing the man behind some of the world’s most significant contributions to contemporary environmentalism. Evan Hayes of Free Solo is on board as producer.
Secrets of the Whales, from executive producer and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large James Cameron, is narrated by Sigourney Weaver and will join photographer Brian Skerry as he helps tell the story of a species he’s been documenting for decades. Filmed across 24 locations over three years, the four-part event series will tell the stories of five different whale species — orcas, belugas, narwhals, sperm whales and humpback whales.
A Real Bug’s Life see our colossal world through their tiny eyes, showcasing how these microsized creatures keep our world turning while facing monstrous forces and threats. From New York’s Central Park to your own backyard, each episode immerses the viewer inside a microcosm, where tiny yet extraordinary creatures rely on their mighty abilities to make it through the day.
America the Beautiful shows America’s landscapes and wildlife as timeless, but highlights how its unique geography drives the forces of nature to extremes, shaping and reshaping the land and throwing down new challenges for life. From the producers of Planet Earth and Frozen Planet it journeys through several different regions: the Frozen North, the Wild West, the Grassy Heartland, the Deep South and the Mountainous High Wilderness.
From executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Genius Season 4 will also be a Disney+ exclusive. The first season starred Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein, Season 2 starred Antonio Banderas as Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, and Season 2 will feature Cynthia Erivo as music icon Aretha Franklin. Season 4 will follow Martin Luther King, Jr, following the extraordinary life and immeasurable impact of the Nobel Peace Prize winner who led seismic change in the civil rights movement in America. It will explore how Reverend King, a Baptist minister, became one of the most influential and inspirational African American leaders in history.