Disney-backed National Geographic is expanding its adventure-based slate, by signing a five-year first-look unscripted deal with Westbrook Studios and making a slew of new commissions.
The Westbrook agreement covers the development of all unscripted projects in the areas of adventure, exploration, travel and science for all of National Geographic’s TV platforms and its Disney+ originals.
It also comes ahead of the launch of Westbrook and Nutopia’s adventure series from National Geographic for Disney+, Welcome To Earth, which is set to premiere on the streamer later this year.
“Having spent the past two years working with Will and the team at Westbrook Studios (along with Darren Aronofsky and Nutopia) on Welcome To Earth, we are thrilled to be expanding our relationship with them and entering into a long-term partnership to produce blockbuster nonfiction content,” said National Geographic content president Courteney Monroe.
“Will and Westbrook share our passion for telling bold, best-in-class stories that ignite curiosity and inspire people to explore and care about our world, and we can’t wait to see where our next adventures together take us.”
Westbrook Studios recently launched Netflix docuseries Amend: The Fight for America, and received a two-season order from Peacock for Bel-Air, the dramatic reboot of Will Smith comedy series The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. Earlier this year, Westbrook Studios partnered with Nigerian media company EbonyLife Media on a multi-project scripted slate connected to Africa.
Climbing new heights
Alongside the Westbrook deal, Disney+ has also ordered a three-part adventure docuseries under the National Geographic banner.
Produced by Plimsoll Productions, On The Edge With Alex Honnold follows the famous climber – and focus of the Oscar-winning Free Solo – as he embarks on a lifelong dream by climbing across the remotest and toughest walls and peaks of Greenland.
Along the way, Honnold will meet the scientists working on the frontline of climate change and witness the impacts of the rapid melting in Greenland for himself.
“I’ve always wanted to climb in Greenland—it has some of the most remote and epic walls in the world. But it’s also being tremendously affected by climate change,” said Honnold. “I’m very excited about the opportunity to explore the climbing while also sharing some of the local impacts of climate change with a global audience. Our changing climate is the biggest issue facing humanity and I hope that this will help inspire people to take action.”
The series is being executive produced for Plimsoll Productions by James Smith, Martha Holmes, Grant Mansfield and Saul Goldberg, and for National Geographic by Bengt Anderson, who is also VP of production and Alan Eyres, who is also SVP of production and development.
Exploring new shows
National Geographic has also ordered a trio of exploration-themed shows, and is set to expand upon the Life Below Zero franchise with an order for spin-off Life Below Zero: First Alaskans.
The series is co-produced by National Geographic and BBC Studios’ LA arm, with Travis Shakespeare, Joseph Litzinger exec producing for BBC Studios and Kevin Tao Mohs attached as executive producer for National Geographic, while Alan Eyres is SVP of production and development.
Meanwhile, The 7 Toughest Days On Earth is being produced by Nutopia, and follows the story of Dwayne Fields, the first Black British citizen to conquer the magnetic north pole, as he aims to survive the most extreme elements on the planet. Jane Root and Sam Bagnall exec produce for Nutopia, while Chris Kugelman exec produces for National Geographic, alongside Bengt Anderson and Alan Eyres.
Appetite For Adventure will follow decorated pitmaster and US Navy veteran Big Moe Cason as he leaves his culinary comforts of the American South behind and sets out on a global journey to seek out the planet’s most mouthwatering mythical dishes cooked over an open flame.
The series is produced by Hit+Run, with Rob Shaftel attached to exec produce, alongside Lauren Thompson for National Geographic. Matt Renner is VP of production, with Alan Eyres serves as SVP of production and development.
All three of these exploration and adventure-themed shows will also have a second window on Disney+. “These new series are exciting additions to our stable of popular, returnable, scalable series led by charismatic personalities,” said Monroe. “The talent at the center of each of these series have unique voices and perspectives that will undoubtedly inspire the explorer in all of us.”