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ZDF Studios Unveils Restless Planet Co-Production


ZDF Studios has revealed Restless Planet (w.t.), a co-production between ZDF Digital, Curiosity and ZDFinfo, and acquired the rights for a new nature documentary.

The five-part Restless Planet portrays the 4.5-billion-year history of Earth and the catastrophes that determined its fate. In the last 500 million years alone, five periods of mass extinction can be identified.

The first episode details the birth of the planet as a lump of molten rock before colliding with a proto-planet the size of Mars. Episode two reveals how microorganisms died out due to the rise of oxygen from cyanobacteria. In episode three, mass extinctions in greenhouse Earth are detailed, featuring a new scientific theory. The fourth episode covers the period when dinosaurs began to conquer the planet, and the final episode looks at the last 75,000 years as Homo sapiens populated the Earth.

Restless Planet is currently filming in Chile, Australia, Indonesia, Iceland, the U.S., Canda, Switzerland and Germany, and is set to be delivered in June 2023. ZDF Studios will handle all international sales outside of the co-production partners’ rights.

Ralf Rueckauer, VP Unscripted at ZDF Studios, said, “Restless Planet is an extraordinary series based on all the latest research with the involvement of some of the world’s top experts in the fields of planetology, science, geology, physics and biology. This is also a timely and thought-provoking documentary as we face the ever-growing threat of climate change.”

Rob Burk, head of original content for Curiosity, said, “This is exactly the kind of epic, sweeping series that Curiosity viewers love. Combining the latest research with incredible storytelling and visuals to explore the past and its impact on our future will resonate deeply with fans of history, science, and exploration.”

ZDF Studios has also secured the global distribution rights for the new nature documentary Smart Swarms, studying the behavior of wildlife that operates within swarms. Produced by ZDF’s Terra X slot, the two-parter is set to complete production by mid 2023.

Researchers in high-tech labs attempt to break swarm-codes, explain strange collective behaviors and explore the possible application of swarm intelligence to the latest technological advances.

Rueckauer said, “The scientists involved in making this production, their experiments and findings add another layer to this fascinating subject. Combined with beautifully filmed scenes of nature’s swarms, this is a documentary that will captivate audiences everywhere.”

About Jamie Stalcup

Jamie Stalcup is the associate editor of World Screen. She can be reached at


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