Leonardo DiCaprio teams with Netflix on gorilla documentary

Leonardo Dicaprio speaks at the 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards at Sheraton Times Square on Sept 21, 2014 in New York City. DiCaprio has teamed up with online streaming service Netflix for a documentary about endangered mountain gorillas in
Leonardo Dicaprio speaks at the 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards at Sheraton Times Square on Sept 21, 2014 in New York City. DiCaprio has teamed up with online streaming service Netflix for a documentary about endangered mountain gorillas in east Africa, film-makers said on Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio has teamed up with online streaming service Netflix for a documentary about endangered mountain gorillas in east Africa, film-makers said on Friday.

The Titanic star is an executive producer on Virunga, described as "part investigative journalism and part nature documentary" and directed by Orlando von Einsiedel.

The documentary follows an embattled team of park rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo "as they are caught in the crossfire of poachers, militia and industry in Africa's oldest national park", Netflix said in a statement.

Eastern Congo's protected Virunga sanctuary is home to about a quarter of the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas.

The film will be released in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on November 7, and via Netflix on the same day.

DiCaprio said films like Virunga offer "a window into the incredible cultural and natural diversity of our world, the forces that are threatening to destroy it, and the people who are fighting to protect it.

"Partnering with Netflix on this film is an exciting opportunity to inform and inspire individuals to engage on this topic."

Netflix has pioneered the streaming of original content, including TV shows and films, to rival traditional network and cable broadcasters.

Earlier this month it announced it had signed comic actor Adam Sandler to produce four films to be exclusively distributed to its subscribers, expanding its foray into cinema.

Netflix also recently unveiled plans for a sequel to the Oscar-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that will simultaneously premiere on the online streaming service and in selected theatres next year.

The streaming content giant claims some 50 million subscribers in nearly 50 countries, following an expansion into several European nations.

In its latest announcement, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said DiCaprio "intuitively understands that there is nothing like the power of film to reach people's hearts and minds.

"With Virunga, we'll work with Leo to introduce viewers around the world to an incredible, gripping story that will have audiences guessing right up until the final act."