IM Global enters AFM this week with arguably the biggest English language project in the market after it emerged today [Nov 1] that BBC Earth and Reliance Big Entertainment are partnering on Walking With Dinosaurs 3D and two other films.

As well as the adaptation of the BBC’s smash Walking With Dinosaurs television series, the slate includes Africa 3D and Life.

The deal was jointly announced today by BBC Worldwide’s managing director of global brands Marcus Arthur and IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford.

Walking With Dinosaurs 3D will be co-directed by Pierre De Lespinois of Los Angeles and Alaska-based 3D producer Evergreen Films and BBC Earth’s Neil Nightingale, formerly the Head of the BBC Natural History Unit. BBC Earth and Evergreen Films will work with Academy Award winning animation house Animal Logic (Happy Feet) and animation producer Jinko Gotoh (9, Finding Nemo).

The narrative of the feature tells the story of a migrating dinosaur family, torn apart and then reunited during the Cretaceous period 70m years ago. The film will use groundbreaking LIDAR (light, detection and ranging) technology to combine live action and animation, as well as groundbreaking 3D camera and pre-vis systems.

The Walking With Dinosaurs television series was first broadcast in 1999 and drew more than 700m viewers worldwide. It was followed by three specials and has since spawned more than 70 licensed publications, consumer and educational products around the world including a live arena show that has grossed more than $200m in the past three years.

The $25m documentary Africa 3D will be filmed alongside the BBC’s upcoming television series Africa and is also in partnership with Evergreen Films.

The third title on the slate is BBC Earth’s documentary feature Life, inspired by the BBC series. It is in post-production and scheduled for theatrical release in 2011.

The project captures stories from the animal kingdom that illustrate the entire life cycle and is co-directed by Mike Gunton and Martha Holmes and produced by Magic Light Pictures’ Martin Pope and Michael Rose.

BBC Earth’s previous feature film Earth was released through DisneyNature and grossed $119m worldwide when it was released theatrically in 2007.

“By partnering with Reliance BIG Entertainment we have the opportunity to realise a long held ambition of making BBC Earth 3D feature films,” Arthur said. “Earth demonstrated the huge appetite of audiences for quality natural history filmmaking and the 3D experience of Walking With Dinosaurs and Africa will allow audiences to immerse themselves in our incredible content as never before.”

Arthur and BBC Earth director Amanda Hill negotiated the deal over the course of several months with Ford and his board colleague Deepak Nayar on behalf of Reliance and IM Global.

Miles Ketley, a partner in London law firm Wiggin & Co, negotiated on behalf of BBC Worldwide. Reliance / IM Global were advised by Jackie Hurt, a partner in London law firm Olswang.