The film, which follows The Cove filmmaker and his team from the Oceanic Preservation Society as they travel the world to film the causes and effects of mass extinction, will air in all of Discovery’s 220 global markets later this year.
Additionally, a 10-maket theatrical run is planned for the United States, as well as special screenings. It will also be available on video-on-demand platforms following the broadcast premiere.
“Racing Extinction is a gripping and important film by some of our best storytellers,” said Discovery Channel U.S. president Rich Ross in a statement. “We hope that by harnessing the power of Discovery with its worldwide television premiere we can ignite global awareness and provoke a movement to save so many endangered species from extinction.”
Whereas Psihoyos’ 2009 Oscar winner The Cove focused solely on the issue of dolphin slaughter in Japan, Racing Extinction tackles the broader subject of mass extinction.
Styled as a spy thriller, the film was shot in multiple locations around the world, including China and Indonesia, to infiltrate the endangered species trade. The filmmaker and his group of artists and activists go undercover in a Los Angeles restaurant serving whale meat and pose as shark fin oil buyers in a Chinese market.
In an interview with realscreen prior to Sundance, Psihoyos said the violence in The Cove alienated some audience members so he was careful to ensure Racing Extinction would be family friendly and thus reach a wider audience.
“I wanted to make the most entertaining film I could possibly make given the subject — a film my kids wanted to go see,” he said. “The Cove won a lot of awards and got a lot of attention but not a lot of people saw it. It had a stigma attached to it – it was ‘the dolphin slaughter film.’”
The acquisition comes after newly installed Discovery president Ross told reporters during the Television Critics Association press tour in January that he wanted to scrap sensational stunts such as Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. His comments prompted docmakers gathered at the Realscreen Summit in Washington, DC to speculate that the network would return to its documentary roots.
Read realscreen‘s interview with Louie Psihoyos about making Racing Extinction here and watch the festival trailer for Racing Extinction below: