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Mike Newell, the director behind Four Weddings and a Funeral and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, has signed on to direct Disney’s adaptation of The One and Only Ivan, the Newbery Medal-winning book written by Katherine Applegate.
Allison Shearmur, who produced the live-action hit Cinderella for the studio and is serving as a producer on Star Wars: Rogue One, is producing the project, which has a script by Mike White (School of Rock).
Published by HarperCollins in 2011, the book centers on a silverback gorilla named Ivan who lives in a cage in a shopping mall along with an elephant named Stella and a stray dog called Bob. Ivan does not remember life before the mall, but when a baby elephant enters and Ivan finds himself taking care of her, he begins to rediscover his previous life and concocts a plan to take the baby elephant away from their abusive owner.
Illustrated by Patricia Castelao, Ivan won the 2013 Newbery Medal and has sold over 1 million copies. Disney picked up the rights to the book in 2014.
Sam Dickerman is overseeing the project for Disney.
Allison Shearmur Productions executives Stephen Meinen and Bryan Oh also are working on the project with Shearmur, who was also an executive producer of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Newell, whose other credits include the Johnny Depp crime drama Donnie Brasco, last directed 2012’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which starred Ralph Fiennes. Newell is repped by WME and the U.K.’s Independent Talent Group.
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