DISCOVERY CHANNEL ACQUIRES WORLDWIDE RIGHTS TO THE ILLUMINATING DOCUMENTARY "HUNTWATCH"
Narrated by Award-Winning Actor Ryan Reynolds and Produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare The Film Chronicles The Controversial Act Of Sealing and A Group of Activists Who Fight To Stop It
Discovery Impact Special Premieres Thursday, September 22
Film is Second Title in Discovery and Lionsgate's Documentary Film Partnership
(New York, NY) -Discovery Channel has scooped up U.S and international rights of HUNTWATCH it was announced today by John Hoffman, EVP Documentaries and Specials, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel. The film will air on September 22 as part of the Discovery Impact banner, immediately following a limited theatrical release by Discovery and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), and will debut worldwide later this year. Lionsgate will also distribute the film on home entertainment worldwide.
HUNTWATCH recounts the compelling chronology of the fight to end the commercial seal hunt in Atlantic Canada. Produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and narrated by Ryan Reynolds, HUNTWATCH highlights the tumultuous history that is the East Coast Canadian commercial seal hunt. Forty plus years of ongoing activism, that included filming the hunt with an unblinking eye, brought images of the bloody ice floes to people's television sets and into their homes around the world. Garnering international headlines and sparking what some believe to be the start of the modern animal welfare movement, the hunt was almost brought to an end in the eighties. But trends in the fishing industry in many parts of the world, and the current demands for fur in the Far East have unfortunately reignited the battle.
"Like most people, I thought the horrendous practice of clubbing baby seals for fur ended a long time ago," explains Hoffman. "By documenting these inhumane acts IFAW has created a valuable visual weapon to expose them. Discovery's goal is to sound the alarm worldwide that this is still happening and ignite change."
"We are delighted that Discovery is bringing Huntwatch to the world," said IFAW President and CEO, Azzedine Downes. "Discovery's commitment and courage to present the film is inspiring and we hope that the massive global Discovery audience will join us to help relegate the commercial seal hunt to where it belongs - in history books. We couldn't have a better partner for our film."
HUNTWATCH premieres as part of DISCOVERY IMPACT, a series of trailblazing documentaries focusing on humankind's impact on the environment and our wildlife and what individuals and communities can do to solve global problems. HUNTWATCH premieres Thursday, September 22 exclusively on Discovery Channel.
More than forty years ago, respected Canadian sealers were quietly slaughtering baby harp seals for their valuable white fur. In 1969, after witnessing the brutal practice for himself, a young activist named Brian Davies set out on a courageous crusade to save seal populations in Canada. That year, Davies launched the International Fund for Animal Welfare to protect and preserve animal populations worldwide. Using his camera as a weapon, Davies began documenting the horrific practice and subsequently pioneered an unprecedented animal welfare movement. For the first time ever, everyday people were witnessing horrific animal murders on the evening news. Over the next few decades, Davies would build an army of activists and use the power of visual communications to upend the sealing industry. Today a young, tough activist Sheryl Fink leads the daring - and often dangerous - war against the hunt.
Utilizing creative media strategies - including celebrity spokespeople and transporting journalists to the bloody ice pans, Davies and IFAW were gathering support from allies and making enemies with sealers and the Canadian government. The footage rallied international attention, drawing sharp criticism from people outraged by the cruelty they saw on the ice, resulting in the European Parliament banning the import of baby white-coat seal products in the 1980s. Davies and IFAW had succeeded at shutting down the hunt - but the victory was short-lived.
Blaming seals for the cod stock collapse and changing regulations to allow seals to be "harvested" once they start molting their white birth fur, the Canadian government was able to reinstate the hunt for baby seals. Fighting against the sealing industry, which is bolstered by politicians vying to hold their seats, IFAW has doubled their efforts and shifted strategy to end this cruel and unnecessary practice. HUNTWATCH is proof that individual voices and sustained campaigns fought over decades do make a difference.
The deal was negotiated by Kevin Iwashina and Zac Bright of Preferred Content on behalf of International Fund for Animal Welfare.
HUNTWATCH is directed by Brant Backlund; editors, Brant Backlund and David Kennedy; producers, Kerry Branon, Richard Moos, Brant Backlund, David Kennedy; executive producers, Azzedine Downes, Erica Martin, Shawna Moos; narrator, Ryan Reynolds; writer, Brant Backlund; director of photography, Richard Moos. For Discovery Channel: supervising producer, Ryan Harrington; executive producer, John Hoffman.
About Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 210 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please visit www.discovery.com.
About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) satisfies curiosity and engages superfans with a portfolio of premium nonfiction, sports and kids programming brands. Reaching 3 billion cumulative viewers across pay-TV and free-to-air platforms in more than 220 countries and territories, Discovery's portfolio includes the global brands Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Science and Turbo/Velocity, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports content across Europe. Discovery reaches audiences across screens through digital-first programming from Discovery VR, Seeker and SourceFed Studios, as well as over-the-top and TV Everywhere offerings including Eurosport Player, Dplay, Discovery K!ds Play
and Discovery GO. For more information, please visit
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook/IFAW and Twitter @action4ifaw. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com
Lionsgate is a premier next generation global content leader with a diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, international distribution and sales, branded channel platforms, interactive ventures and games, and location-based entertainment. The Company has nearly 80 television shows on 40 different networks spanning its primetime production, distribution and syndication businesses. These include the ground-breaking hit series Orange is the New Black, the fan favorite series Nashville, the syndication success The Wendy Williams Show, the hit drama series The Royals, the Golden Globe-nominated dramedy Casual and the breakout success Greenleaf.
The Company's feature film business spans eight labels and includes the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, the Now You See Me, Divergent and John Wick series, Sicario, Nerve, The Age of Adaline, Roadside Attractions' Love & Mercy and Mr. Holmes, Codeblack Films' Addicted and breakout concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain and Pantelion Films' Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the U.S.
Lionsgate's home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rates. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 16,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as a foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world. www.lionsgate.com