Thea Sharrock, director of the tearjerker Me Before You, is in early talks to direct The One and Only Ivan, Disney’s adaptation of the Newbery Medal-winning book written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by Patricia Castelao.
Allison Shearmur, who was one of the producers on Disney’s live-action take on Cinderella as well as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is on board to produce the adaptation.
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.
Applegate, who also created the late 1990s book series Animorphs with her husband, Michael Grant, based the story on a real-life gorilla named Ivan who spent 27 years in a Washington mall before being transferred to the Atlanta Zoo.
Ivan could become the latest project at the studio to nab a female director. Disney has Ava DuVernay helming the recently wrapped A Wrinkle in Time and just put Niki Caro on its live-action retelling of Mulan.
Sharrock is an award-winning theater director who made her feature debut with Me Before You, MGM’s adaptation of the romantic novel by Jojo Moyes. The 2016 movie starred Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin and was a international hit, grossing over $207 million worldwide.
Sharrock is repped by CAA.