Disney is in negotiations to acquire the screen rights to The One and Only Ivan, a Newbery Medal-winning book written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by Patricia Castelao, The Hollywood Reporter said.
Allison Shearmur, who is one of the producers on Disney’s live-action take on Cinderella, 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.
The book has spent 60 consecutive weeks (and counting) on the New York Times best-seller list and has won several awards.
A search for a writer is underway to pen the script for what is intended to be a live-action movie.
Applegate is repped by Jason Dravis of the Monteiro Rose Dravis Agency. Dravis also reps Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins and originally met Shearmur when he was setting up Collins’ book at Lionsgate. Shearmur was Lionsgate’s president of production at the time.
Stephen Meinen, VP of Allison Shearmur Productions, will work on the project with Shearmur.