The One and Only Ivan (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The One and Only Ivan
The One and Only Ivan Poster.jpg
Official release poster
Directed byThea Sharrock
Produced by
Screenplay byMike White
Based onThe One and Only Ivan
by K. A. Applegate
Music byCraig Armstrong
CinematographyFlorian Ballhaus
Edited byBarney Pilling
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date
  • August 21, 2020 (2020-08-21) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States

The One and Only Ivan is a 2020 American live-action/CGI fantasy drama film directed by Thea Sharrock from a screenplay written by Mike White based on the children's novel of the same name by K. A. Applegate. Inspired by the true story of Ivan the gorilla, the film stars the voices of Sam Rockwell as Ivan alongside Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Brooklynn Prince, Chaka Khan, Ron Funches, Phillipa Soo, and Mike White with human characters portrayed by Ramón Rodríguez, Ariana Greenblatt, and Bryan Cranston.

The project was first announced in 2014, and went into production two years later. The cast was assembled between October 2017 and May 2018, with filming taking place in Florida in summer 2018. Originally intended to have a theatrical release, The One and Only Ivan was made available to stream on Disney+ from August 21, 2020, and received lukewarm reviews from critics.


Ivan, a silverback western lowland gorilla, lives in the enclosure at Big Top Mall. He performs for Mack, the owner, alongside other performers; a wise and nurturing African elephant named Stella, a spoiled poodle named Snickers, a spunky chicken named Henrietta, a fire truck-riding rabbit named Murphy, a paranoid sea lion named Frankie and a loquacious parrot named Thelma. Ivan is accompanied by a stray mutt, who they later name Bob, who secretly lives in his enclosure. Mack's janitorial employee George brings his daughter Julia who frequently interacts with Ivan. One day, Julia leaves her old crayons with Ivan who suddenly begins taking an interest in drawing with them. Julia is apparently the only one who can decipher his drawings and what they mean.

The Big Top Mall begins losing business much to Mack's concern, but becomes excited when he purchases a baby elephant named Ruby who begins to draw in a crowd. Ivan is initially hesitant over accepting Ruby, especially when she begins to pry into his personal life. When Stella, who has been caring for Ruby, suddenly becomes weaker and unable to perform, Ivan gives Ruby encouragement to embrace the crowd on her own. Afterwards, Ruby asks Ivan to tell her a story and Ivan reveals how Mack and his wife Helen adopted him when he was just a baby. As Ivan got bigger, Mack became forgiving of his animalistic behavior, but Helen left him out of frustration. Mack eventually purchased the mall and turned it into a circus. Stella asks Ivan to look after Ruby and make sure she is free before passing away.

Mack begins to train Ruby for the circus, which displeases Ivan and he decides to find a way to free her. Ivan's drawings are discovered by Mack and decides to make it the next big act, but despite the publicity in the news, Ivan refuses to cooperate.

At night, Ivan and Bob trick the security guard Castello and free themselves and Ruby. At Ruby's urging, Henrietta, Murphy, Frankie and Thelma are also released and the animals flee the Big Top Mall to escape to the forest on the other side of the highway while Snickers remains behind. To their disappointment, the "forest" is just an intersection and they are surrounded by more city. Alerted by Castello, Mack manages to bring the animals back and tries to keep their escape a secret.

Ruby asks Ivan to tell her another story. At Bob's urging, Ivan finally explains how he used to live in the jungle with other gorillas. Ivan, then known as Mud, loved to make drawings in the mud and play with his sister Tag who loved playing tag. Ivan was separated by his family when poachers came and he had not seen any other gorillas since.

As George is informed by Mack to keep this incident from reaching the press while mentioning that he fired Castello, Julia sympathetically gives Ivan some finger paints and, inspired, he decides to paint a mural.

The next day, visitors come in along with the reporter Candace Taylor who has heard about the possible escape and decide to film the show. Ivan's mural, a recreation of a forest and lake, is seen by the crowd who responds positively to it. Julia believes that Ivan wants to be free and informs Candace.

Soon, protesters arrive demanding the release of the animals. Mack finally gives in and decides to shut down the mall. As all the animals are taken away, Mack has one final moment with Ivan, thanking him for his time. Ivan is taken to a big gorilla enclosure at the Zoo Atlantic by Dr. Maya Wilson where he is reunited with his kind. To his astonishment, it is situated right next to the elephant enclosure where Ruby is with her kind. Ivan assures Stella's spirit that Ruby is safe under his watch.

During the credits, photos and footage of the real Ivan is shown along with a summary of his life. In a mid-credits scene, Ivan is greeted by Bob who has been adopted by Julia and George who come visit the enclosure along with Mack to check in on Ivan.


  • Bryan Cranston as Mack, the owner and ringmaster of the Big Top Mall.
  • Ramón Rodríguez as George, Julia's father and a janitor at the Big Top Mall.
  • Ariana Greenblatt as Julia, George's daughter who encourages Ivan to draw.
  • Owain Arthur as Castello, a security guard at the Big Top Mall who Mack often orders to keep Bob out.
  • Hannah Bourne as Helen, Mack's ex-wife who left when Ivan got older.
  • Eleanor Matsuura as Candace Taylor, a news reporter who covers Ivan's finger-painting.
  • Indira Varma as Dr. Maya Wilson, a zoologist.

Mike White cameos as a passing driver who witnesses the animals escape.



On April 9, 2014, it was announced that Walt Disney Pictures was set to adapt the book with Allison Shearmur producing.[2] On May 6, 2016, it was announced that Mike Newell would direct, with a screenplay by Mike White.[3] On March 24, 2017, Thea Sharrock entered negotiations to direct the film after Newell left the project.[4] On October 16, 2017, it was reported that Jolie had joined the film as both a producer and the voice of an elephant named Stella.[5] On November 15, 2017, Prince was cast to voice Ruby, the baby elephant.[6]

On January 9, 2018, Ariana Greenblatt joined the cast in a live action role.[7] Producer Shearmur died on January 19, 2018. She retains her producer credit on the film.[8] On February 23, 2018, Rockwell was cast to voice the titular Ivan, Cranston was set to play a circus owner, and Brigham Taylor joined as a producer.[9][10] On March 13, 2018, Rodriguez signed on to another live action role, that of the father of Greenblatt's character.[11] On May 1, 2018, it was announced that DeVito and Mirren would voice characters in the film, while Indira Varma and Eleanor Matsuura were added in live action roles.[12]

Principal photography began on May 1, 2018 in Lakeland, Florida, with locations for the film including the Southgate Shopping Center and Resurrection Catholic Church.[13][14] Filming also took place in other parts of Polk County the following month, spending $134,365 in the city.[15]


The film was originally scheduled for a theatrical release on August 14, 2020 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.[16] However, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cinema, the film's theatrical release was cancelled and it was exclusively released on Disney+ on August 21, 2020.[17] In November, Variety reported the film was the 27th-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point.[18]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 70% based on 110 reviews with an average rating of 6.10/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "An uncertain approach to the story's darker themes undermines its emotional stakes, but The One and Only Ivan offers heartwarming entertainment for younger viewers."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20]

Common Sense Media rated the movie 4 out of 5 stars, stating : "Parents need to know that The One and Only Ivan is based on Katherine Applegate's Newbery Award-winning 2013 novel about a silverback gorilla named Ivan (voiced by Sam Rockwell), the headliner of a strip-mall circus act run by Mack (Bryan Cranston). Inspired by a true story, the movie, like the book, focuses on Ivan and his small group of fellow circus performers. Viewers familiar with the novel should note that there's actually less mention of violence on the screen than on the page. But a character still dies (peacefully, in her sleep), there's a scene of an exhausted and overworked baby elephant, and the movie includes a flashback to the terrible day when Ivan loses his family (the poaching isn't detailed, and while a shot is audible, that death happens off-camera). The story promotes getting circus animals out of cages and into more natural habitats at zoos and preserves. It also has themes of loyalty, teamwork, empathy, and perseverance. The voices of Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Chaka Khan, and Danny Devito are featured".[21]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Outcome Ref
2020 Hollywood Post Alliance Awards Outstanding Visual Effects – Theatrical Feature The One and Only Ivan Won [22][23]
2021 Critics' Choice Super Awards Best Voice Actor In An Animated Movie Sam Rockwell Nominated [24][25]


  1. ^ a b Gleiberman, Owen (August 19, 2020). "'The One and Only Ivan' Review: Sam Rockwell and Angelina Jolie Voice a Touching Animal Fable From Disney Plus". Variety. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  2. ^ "Disney to Adapt Newbery Medal-Winning 'The One and Only Ivan'". April 9, 2014. Archived from the original on April 11, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  3. ^ "'Harry Potter' Director Mike Newell to Tackle 'The One and Only Ivan' for Disney (Exclusive)". Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  4. ^ McNary, Dave (March 24, 2017). "Disney Eyes Thea Sharrock to Direct Gorilla Story 'The One and Only Ivan'". Archived from the original on March 6, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  5. ^ "Angelina Jolie Joins the Voice Cast of Disney's "The One and Only Ivan"". October 16, 2017. Archived from the original on May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  6. ^ Kroll, Justin (November 15, 2017). "'Florida Project' Breakout Brooklynn Prince Joins Angelina Jolie in 'One and Only Ivan'". Archived from the original on March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  7. ^ "'Stuck in the Middle' Actress Joins Angelina Jolie in 'The One and Only Ivan' (Exclusive)". Archived from the original on May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  8. ^ McNary, Dave (January 19, 2018). "Allison Shearmur, 'Rogue One,' 'Hunger Games' Producer, Dies at 54". Variety. Retrieved January 20, 2018.
  9. ^ McNary, Dave (February 23, 2018). "Film News Roundup: Sam Rockwell to Voice Gorilla in Angelina Jolie's 'One and Only Ivan'". Archived from the original on March 30, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  10. ^ "Bryan Cranston Joins Angelina Jolie in Disney's 'The One and Only Ivan' (Exclusive)". Archived from the original on March 2, 2018. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  11. ^ "'Iron Fist' Actor Ramon Rodriguez Joins Angelina Jolie in Disney's 'The One and Only Ivan' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  12. ^ "Helen Mirren, Danny DeVito Join Angelina Jolie in Disney's 'The One and Only Ivan'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  13. ^ "Disney to film 'One and Only Ivan' scenes at 4 Lakeland locations starting Wednesday". The Ledger. June 19, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  14. ^ "Filming Starts on Disney's 'The One and Only Ivan' Starring Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie". Collider.
  15. ^ "'One and Only Ivan' movie filmed in Lakeland to premiere on Disney+ this month". Tampa Bay Times. August 3, 2020. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  16. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 7, 2019). "Disney-Fox Updates Release Schedule: Sets Three Untitled 'Star Wars' Movies, 'New Mutants' Heads To 2020, 'Ad Astra' To Open Fall & More". Deadline Hollywood.
  17. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 12, 2020). "'The One And Only Ivan' Heads To Disney+; 'Beatles: Get Back' Moves To 2021 & More: Disney Release Date Changes". Deadline Hollywood.
  18. ^ Bridge, Gavin (November 4, 2020). "DATA: 'BORAT 2' SECOND ONLY TO 'HAMILTON' IN MOST-WATCHED U.S. SVOD MOVIES OF 2020". Variety. Archived from the original on November 4, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  19. ^ "The One and Only Ivan (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  20. ^ "The One and Only Ivan Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  21. ^ "The One and Only Ivan - Movie Review". June 16, 2020. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  22. ^ "2020 HPA Awards". HPA – Hollywood Professional Association. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  23. ^ "'Joker,' 'Mulan,' 'Watchmen' Among HPA Awards Nominees | Hollywood Reporter". Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  24. ^ "Critics Choice Super Awards | Critics Choice Awards". Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  25. ^ Hammond, Pete (November 19, 2020). "'Palm Springs', 'Lovecraft Country' Top Movie And Series Nominations For Inaugural Critics Choice Super Awards; Netflix Lands 35 Nods". Deadline. Retrieved November 21, 2020.

External links[edit]