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Bridge To Terabithia Begins Production in NZ

17 February 2006

Bridge To Terabithia Begins Production In Auckland New Zealand

Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures begin principal photography on Katherine Paterson's Newbery Award Winning Best-Selling Novel

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (February 17, 2006)-"Bridge to Terabithia", the motion picture adaptation of Katherine Paterson's Newbery Honor award winning best-selling novel, began principal photography on location in Auckland, New Zealand. The project is a co-production between Walden Media ("The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", "Because of Winn-Dixie") and The Walt Disney Studios. International sales and distribution will be handled by Summit Entertainment.

Josh Hutcherson ("Zathura", "The Polar Express") stars as Jess Aarons, an 11 year old boy whose efforts to be the fastest runner in his grade are thwarted by a new girl who outruns all the boys. Anna Sophia Robb ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") stars as Leslie Burke, the new girl who becomes friends with Jess despite their awkward introduction.

She ultimately opens up a world of imagination for Jess in the land of Terabithia that changes his life forever. "Bridge to Terabithia" also stars Zooey Deschanel ("Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", "Elf") as Miss Edmunds, the music teacher at Jess and Leslie's school, and Robert Patrick ("Walk the Line," "Ladder 49," "Terminator 2: Judgement Day") joins the cast as Jess Aarons' father.

Together Jess and Leslie create the world of Terabithia, an imaginary kingdom filled with all manner of magical beings. While the real world of family and school may be filled with challenges, in Terabithia, Jess and Leslie rule as King and Queen.

Brimming with fantastical creatures, palaces and beautiful forests - the kingdom of Terabithia will be brought to life by the creative wizards at the Academy AwardR winning visual effects facility Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand. Weta Digital is responsible for effects in the Academy AwardR winning "Lord of the Rings" films and "King Kong" and is co-owned by a team of Academy AwardR winners including director Peter Jackson, effects specialist Richard Taylor and editor Jamie Selkirk.

The film marks the big screen directorial debut of famed Academy AwardR nominee and Emmy-Award winning animator Gabor Csupo ("Rugrats in Paris, The Wild Thornberrys Movie"). Former Production President of Universal Pictures Hal Lieberman ("Around the World in 80 Days", "Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines") produces with Lauren Levine ("I am David"), and the author's son David Paterson, ("Love Ludlow") who wrote the screenplay, based on the novel by Katherine Paterson, with revisions by Jeff Stockwell and Kevin Wade.

The talented team of filmmakers includes two-time OscarR-nominated cinematographer, Michael Chapman ("Taxi Driver", "Raging Bull", "The Fugitive"), Production Designer Robert Gillies ("The World's Fastest Indian", "Boogeyman"), Costume Designer Barbara Darragh ("River Queen", "The Frighteners") and film editor John Gilbert ("The Fellowship of the Rings").
Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia is a timeless classic from one of the world's most renowned children's book authors.

Ms Paterson is the author of 14 novels, numerous non-fiction and essays for children and young people including Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved, both winners of the prestigious Newbery Medal in 1978 and 1981. Her novels have sold over 5 million copies since 1978 and are published in over two dozen languages worldwide.

"Bridge to Terabithia" will film on location in West Auckland, New Zealand including the rural forest areas of Riverhead and Puhoi. The company will film for 10 weeks and production will conclude in early April 2006, with Walt Disney Pictures planning an early 2007 release.

Founded by Cary Granat, former president of Miramax Films' Dimension label, and education reformer Micheal Flaherty, Walden Media, a subsidiary of AFG, specializes in entertainment that sparks the imagination and curiosity of kids and provides parents and teachers with materials to continue the learning process.

In association with The Walt Disney Company, Walden Media produced "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", the first live-action feature film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' beloved classic. Upcoming releases include "Hoot" and "How to Eat Fried Worms" with New Line Cinema, and "Charlotte's Web" with Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies.

The Walt Disney Studios is a unit of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) and distributes motion pictures under Walt Disney Pictures -- which includes Walt Disney Feature Animation and DisneyToon Studios -- Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax Films. Buena Vista International serves as the studio's international distribution arm. Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Buena Vista Home Entertainment International together distribute Disney and other film titles to the rental and sell-through home entertainment markets worldwide.

Buena Vista Theatrical Productions is one of the largest producers of Broadway musicals, and the Buena Vista Music Group distributes original music and motion picture soundtracks under its four record labels: Walt Disney Records, Buena Vista Records, Hollywood Records and Lyric Street Records.


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