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File: Disney's African Cats

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African CatsAfrican Cats is a nature documentary film directed by Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill about several lions and cheetahs trying to survive on the African savannah.

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The film is the fourth release by Disneynature, and was released in theaters on Earth Day, April 22, 2011. The film is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and features the song "The World I Knew" by Season Six American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. A portion of the proceeds for the film were donated to the African Wildlife Foundation and their effort to preserve Kenya's Amboseli Wildlife Corridor. The film's initiative with the African Wildlife Foundation is named "See African Cats, Save the Savanna," and as of May 2, 2011, ticket sales translated into 50,000 acres of land saved in Kenya.

It is similar to National Geographic's documentary film The Last Lions.

African Cats, referred to as a "true life adventure," tells the true story of two animal families in the wild by using real-life footage. The film focuses on a young lion cub named Mara being raised by her mother, Layla, a mother cheetah named Sita who is raising five newborns, and Fang, the leader of Mara & her mother's pride defending his family from a banished lion.  With so many species competing for space and food in the savannah, the animals must figure out the best way to survive.

The film begins by introducing Sita, a Cheetah in the Masai Mara, in Africa. She has just given birth to five cubs. Although cheetahs are solitary by nature, Sita now has her cubs to take care of, and teach before they each go their own way. Then we see Mara, a six month-old lion cub with her mother Layla, who both belong to the River pride. The pride's leader is Fang, an older lion who has a distinctive broken tooth thanks to an earlier fight. In the North of the Masai Mara, where Sita is caring for her cubs, another pride of lions is led by Kali, who wants to expand his pride by taking over Fang's southern pride. However, they cannot reach the southern pride as they are divided by a crocodile infested river. Sita's cubs are beginning to run and play when Kali and his four sons are on patrol. Sita, seeing it as a danger to her cubs, goads Kali and his sons so as to get them tired and away from her cubs. However after the confrontation, the cubs have scattered. Sita calls for her cubs throughout the night, and as it gets darker, other predators are seen and heard. In the morning, three of the five cubs have returned to Sita. Although she continues to call to them, it is known that the remaining cubs were taken by the hyenas.

Meanwhile, Layla is injured by the kick of a zebra during a hunt. As the Wildebeest begin to migrate to greener pastures, so does the River pride. However, due to her injury and her older age, Layla has trouble keeping up. Mara stays beside her mother and helps on her way. Soon though they begin to lose track of the pride. Knowing that Mara needs the pride, Layla forces through her injury, and they soon find themselves with the River pride once more.

The film was released on April 22, 2011, and as of April 12, 2011, over $1.7 million in tickets were sold in advance of the film's release. As of May 2, 2011, ticket sales translated into 50,000 acres of land saved in Kenya. The full-length trailer for African Cats was originally released on December 7, 2010. The film is to be released in France on February 1, 2012, with the title of "Félins" (felines). The film will be released on April 27, 2012 in the United Kingdom with narration by Sir Patrick Stewart.

The film has received generally positive reviews from critics. Based on 39 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating of 69% with an average rating of 6.3/10, based on 54 reviews. Its consensus states "It's isn't quite as majestic as its subjects, but African Cats boasts enough astounding footage -- and a big enough heart -- to keep things entertaining."  Another review aggretator, Metacritic, calculated an average rating of 63 based on 18 reviews.

The film will be released as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and movie download on October 4, 2011 (the same day as The Lion King Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo pack). The DVD version of the release will include the "Disney & Nature" and "Save the Savanna" bonus features, while the Blu-ray version will additionally include the music video for "The World I Knew" by Jordin Sparks and a behind-the-scenes extra called "Filmmaker Annotations." The movie download version includes the two bonus features from the DVD, plus three segments from the "Filmmaker Annotation" Blu-ray extra.Disneynature will also donate a portion of the home media proceeds earned through October 10, 2011 to the African Wildlife Foundation's "Save the Savanna" initiative.

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