Since March 18th, Dr. M. Sanjayan has been on a whirlwind media tour promoting the new Disney film, Monkey Kingdom. The time spent promoting this amazing Disneynature film is nothing compared to the over 1000 days it took to film the movie for which he was on set as a contributing science advisor. It also happens to take place in his childhood home of Sri Lanka.
After screening Monkey Kingdom this week, I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Dr. Sanjayan for a meal at Sanaa in Disney World’s Wild Kingdom Resort.
This post is part of a #MonkeyKingdomEvent series with Disney. I am receiving transportation and accommodations for this event in exchange for sharing my experience with our readers. All opinions are my own.
“I love all the Disneynature films – they all set a pretty high bar. I was involved with the first two – Earth and Oceans – and I’ve seen all of them,” Dr. Sanjayan said “but I think of all of them, in terms of all the footage that I saw that I’ve never seen before – and a really compelling story that sort of laid itself out – this one really set another bar. It’s going to be quite hard to top it.”
That’s quite an extraordinary endorsement from an Emmy-nominated news contributor, a published scientific researcher, and television host. He’s quite an accomplished scientist and was a huge part of the making of Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom, in theaters April 17th.
“When they first set about doing [Monkey Kingdom] I think the idea, originally, was to try to do like Jungle Book with all the animals in the forest. But the monkeys proved to be so compelling that following that storyline and seeing where it goes proved to be the right choice.”
I would agree. The story of Maya and Kip and her fight to create a better life for her family in the hierarchy of the Monkey Kingdom is compelling, and one that parents can relate to. It truly is a film for the whole family and the cinematography and storyline is endearing and one that shouldn’t be missed.
“You know, they filmed for over 1000 days. That’s an amazingly long amount of time; for a reasonable documentary, it’s about one day of filming for one minute of screen time,” Sanjayan explains. “These guys were over 10 days for every minute of film so it’s an 88 minute film.”
“I was on site with Jane [Goodall] on location in Sri Lanka in December, and they were still trying to get one shot.” Sanjayan explained how hard the crew worked to get a time lapsed scene of the dome (which you will see in the film) but it had to be a cloudless night without a moon and no rain after getting permission from the government.
The hard work put into the film shows and the pride that Dr. M. Sanjayan showed in its completion was apparent and certainly well-deserved.
Check out the fun that he had with a few of the film’s stars!
Be sure to see Monkey Kingdom in theaters when it opens this week! For each ticket purchased during opening week, a donation will be made to Conservation International. You can also purchase a Kip or Maya Monkey from the Disney Store for additional donations to Conservational International.