The One and Only Ivan Director Interview

The One and Only Ivan is a movie defined by its kindness. Sweet and often sad, it’s a tale of animals in captivity that understands why these creatures need to be free while also empathizing with the human desire to be close to these animals in the first place. It’s a delicate balance for a family movie, and one that director Thea Sharrock pulls off.

Ahead of the film’s release on Disney+ later this week, I spoke with Sharrock over Zoom about creating the CGI animal characters, making a film where the main motivation of the “villain” comes from a place of love, and why she intentionally left green out of the film’s color palette.

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the one and only ivan writer interview

Mike White has made his name as a renaissance man of modern entertainment. He’s written beloved family movies (School of Rock), blockbuster sequels (Pitch Perfect 3), and critically acclaimed dramas (The Good Girl). He wrote for a television show that ranks among the finest one season wonders of all time (Freaks and Geeks) and created a beloved HBO shows that felt a few years ahead of its time (Enlightened). He’s directed personal indie films (Brad’s Status, Year of the Dog). And he’s been a contestant on more than one reality show (Survivor, The Amazing Race).

Now, White can cross “write a Disney movie” off his list with The One and Only Ivan. Based on the book by Katherine Applegate, the film is a charming, cute, and sometimes melancholy tale about a gorilla who learns to dream beyond the mall enclosure he calls home. I spoke with White over Zoom ahead of the film’s release on Disney+ to talk about what it’s like to write for animal characters and why people like me keep asking him about School of Rock nearly 20 years later.

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one and only ivan featurette

The One and Only Ivan is the latest Disney flick that was originally intended for theaters only to end up on Disney+. Based (loosely) on a true story, the star-studded family is about a 400-pound silverback gorilla who sounds exactly like Sam Rockwell, and also has a talent for drawing. Blending live-action and CGI, the film is adapted from the Newbery Medal-winning book by Katherine Applegate. A new One and Only Ivan featurette goes behind-the-scenes of the film, and features a moment where Bryan Cranston enthusiastically proclaims, “A gorilla who draws!” What more do you need?

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The One and Only Ivan Trailer

Along with remaking all of their animated classics into live-action spectacles, Disney has also been leaning into using photorealistic computer generated animals to lead their stories. From Lady and the Tramp to The Lion King, the animation studio is bringing very convincing digital animals to the screen, for better or worse. Even Call of the Wild, which came to Disney from 20th Century Fox, fit right in with their slate by utilizing computer generated dogs. Now another live-action/CGI hybrid animal adventure is coming to Disney+.

The One and Only Ivan, based on Katherine Applegate’s bestselling book of the same name, follows a 400-pound silverback gorilla who was taken from the wild at a young age and brought into the home of Mack (Bryan Cranston), who raised him lovingly until he was big enough that he needed to be kept in a glass enclosure in the middle of a shopping mall when he’s not being shown off to a paying audience. For Ivan, it’s his normal, everyday life, but when a captured baby elephant named Ruby arrives, he begins to dig into his past and longs to return to his jungle home. Watch the Only and Only Ivan trailer below. Read More »

Personal History of David Copperfield release date

Disney has updated release plans for two of its upcoming titles. The Personal History of David Copperfield will now open in theaters on August 14 while The One and Only Ivan is now headed directly to Disney+ a week later. These are just two more entries in the ever-shifting movie release landscape of 2020, the year that refuses to stop being so extra, as the kids say.

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the one and only ivan movie

Disney has decided to take a break from remaking their classic animated films and try something new: an adaptation of Katherine Applegate‘s children’s book The One and Only Ivan. The live-action/CG hybrid will feature one heck of a cast that includes Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie, and Sam Rockwell. More on The One and Only Ivan movie below.

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