'Free Solo' Filmmakers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin Sign Exclusive First-Look Deal with National Geographic
Oscar- and Emmy-winning duo will develop unscripted series, specials and feature documentaries for NatGeo
Barely a week after Free Solo went seven-for-seven at the Creative Arts Emmys, the duo behind the film has signed an exclusive production deal with National Geographic.
Filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin will develop feature documentaries, unscripted series and specials, NatGeo announced Monday. The exclusive first-look deal includes distribution of their next feature doc, which is said to be in production.
“Chai and Jimmy are extraordinary filmmakers and tremendous partners, and we are thrilled to be expanding our relationship with them,” National Geographic Television Networks President Courteney Monroe said in a statement. “The success of Free Solo surpassed even our wildest expectations, and we cannot wait to embark on this exciting new chapter with the incredibly talented team behind it.”
We are excited to have an outlet to grow our production company’s work in television, expanding the stories we are able to tell, as well as a partner for our next feature doc.
--E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin on their new deal with National Geographic
Free Solo, which documented mountain climber Alex Honnold's death-defying ascent of Yosemite's El Capitan without ropes, earned $17.5 million in North American theaters. It opened in theaters in China on September 6, quickly taking in $4.8 million, making it "the highest-grossing international documentary ever released in China," according to National Geographic.
In February Free Solo won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. And last weekend it collected seven Emmys at the Creative Arts Awards, including Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program for Vasarhelyi and Chin. The film won Emmys in every category in which it was nominated, earning the distinction as "the most Emmy-winning documentary in history," per NatGeo.
“National Geographic offered unconditional support and enthusiasm for Free Solo from day one, and we truly could not have asked for better partners,” Vasarhelyi and Chin said in a statement. “We are excited to have an outlet to grow our production company’s work in television, expanding the stories we are able to tell, as well as a partner for our next feature doc.”
In addition to its critical and box office success, Free Solo scored impressive numbers on the National Geographic Channel. The network says the film "ranks as Nat Geo’s most-viewed unscripted special ever (P2+) and the No. 1 on demand and download in the network’s history."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.