Imax has tackled the production of a new nature documentary, the elephant odyssey, which recounts the unlikely journey of 16 wild Asian elephants through the Chinese province of Yunan. Shot using Imax cameras and scheduled to open in the Imax theater network in 2024, the 90-minute documentary is currently in production in China. Imax’s co-producers are Singapore’s Beach House Pictures and a Beijing-based company called China International Communications Group’s China Review Studio.
The producers say the film will deliver “a completely new story about humanity’s relationship with the elephant” with a narrative built around the real-life story that unfolded in 2020 when a group of wild Asian elephants left their habitat. in China’s Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve. The elephants’ journey was captured on drone cameras and broadcast live, captivating viewers in China and elsewhere. Over 18 months, the elephants traveled more than 1,000 kilometers (more than 620 miles) on a wildlife trek that included “impromptu village parties, rampant raids on grain stores, disorderly fights in the mud and even giving light on the road.”
“The 18-month journey of the Yunnan elephants at the height of the pandemic was a promising antidote to the lockdowns many of us were enduring,” said John Turner, Imax documentary director. “We wanted to know more about these animals and why it happened.”
The film is directed by filmmaker Alice Gu (The king of donuts) with Clair Popkin (free solo) serving as cinematographer. Imax’s John Turner and Daniel Manwaring, Beach House’s Donovan Chan and Jocelyn Little, and China Review Studio’s Chen Fang serve as executive producers.
The director of China Review Studio added, Chen: “the elephant odyssey is an in-depth exploration that goes beyond the fascinating journey of Asian elephants that moved from north to south, uncovering moving stories hitherto unknown. We are looking forward to telling a distinctive Chinese story to audiences around the world, together with Imax and Beach House Pictures.”