A hybrid live-action and CGI adaptation of the award-winning children’s book “The One and Only Ivan” starring Bryan Cranston began streaming on Disney+ Friday.
The film was scheduled to be released to theaters last Friday but was shifted to Disney+ because of the theater closures prompted by coronavirus pandemic.
“What makes this book and this film so unique is the fact that it’s inspired by a true story,” said director Thea Sharrock. “Katherine Applegate who wrote the book told this story which is not just to do with how humans treat animals, but how we should treat each other.”
Applegate said she “came across Ivan’s story in a New York Times article.”
“I was astounded,” said Applegate, who in 2013 won the Newbery Medal for “The One and Only Ivan.” The award is given annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
The film is about a 400-pound silverback gorilla who lives with several other animals in a circus attraction at the suburban Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. The arrival of a baby elephant named Ruby prompts Ivan to begin to question his life, where he comes from and where he ultimately wants to be.
“Katherine Applegate created this amazing imaginary world and she’s given Ivan a voice and we’ve brought him to life,” said Sharrock, a British theater director who also directed the 2016 romantic drama, “Me Before You.”
Cranston portrays the circus attraction’s owner. The voice cast includes Sam Rockwell as Ivan, Angelina Jolie as an African elephant, Danny DeVito as the stray dog Bob, Helen Mirren as Snickers the poodle and Chaka Khan as Henrietta the chicken.
The screenplay was written by Mike White (“School of Rock,” “Nacho Libre”), who also supplies the voice of Frankie the seal.
Jolie is also among the film’s executive producers.
“My daughter Shiloh read the book in school and it was her favorite book,” Jolie said. “She asked me to read it. I just loved it. It’s a story for everybody but it’s also very much a story for young people to realize that they do have a voice and they can make a difference.”