This week will see a pair of new nature documentaries debut on Disney+. Dolphin Reef narrated by Natalie Portman is a film that we've known was coming for months, but another project, Elephant, narrated by The Dutchess of Sussex, Maeghan Markle, was something of a surprise that had not been previously revealed prior to last week.
The fact that Meghan Markle was doing the narration for the Disney+ film was interesting as it reminded many of a video that surfaced back in January, that appeared to show Markle's husband, Prince Harry, pitching his wife for voiceover work to then-Disney CEO Bob Iger. The new film looked to be the end result of that conversation, but it turns out that not everything is as it seems.
According to Hello Magazine, the video of Harry trying to sell Bob Iger on his wife's voiceover talent, which was filmed at the The Lion King premiere in the summer of 2019, and shows Markle chatting with Beyonce and apparently not noticing the Iger conversation, is actually the pair having a bit of fun. In reality, Meghan Markle had already been approached about the idea of doing the voiceover work. The filming for Elephant had been going on for years at that point and the filmmakers had already shown some of it to Markle, knowing the subject was important to her. In fact, she signed the deal to do the voiceover, not for payment to herself, but in return for a donation to Elephants Without Borders.
Certainly, in addition to being passionate about the subject, getting Meghan Markle to do the voiceover is a big "get" for Disney. This is the highest profile film work the Dutchess of Sussex has done since gaining that title. The fact that it's her certainly might draw a few more eyeballs to Elephants on Disney+ that might not otherwise have given it a look .
Of course, just because Meghan Markle was already looking to do some voiceover for Disney doesn't mean Harry's comments to Bob Iger won't bear fruit. In his new role as Executive Chairman, Iger is focusing on the creative aspects of the company first and foremost. Maybe there could be a place for her in a Disney or Pixar animated film, and Iger is in an even better place to help make that happen right now, or he will be, once production on films begins to move forward again.
The documentary films from Disneynature were previously theatrical releases, but it looks like the plan is for them to make the jump to Disney+ from now on. In addition to Elephant and Dolphin Reef, this week sees the Disney+ debut of Penguins, the last Disneynature film to get a theatrical release.
Both Elephant and Dolphin Reef hit Disney+ on Friday.