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Disney Eyes Thea Sharrock to Direct Gorilla Story ‘The One and Only Ivan’

Disney is in talks with Thea Sharrock, director of “Me Before You,” to helm its movie version of the gorilla story “The One and Only Ivan.”

British director Mike Newell had been attached last year for the project, but is no longer involved. Variety first reported in 2014 that Mike White had come on board to script the adaptation of Katherine Applegate’s children’s story.

The book, published by HarperCollins in 2011, centers on the silverback gorilla Ivan, who is in a cage at a shopping center with an elderly elephant named Stella and a stray dog named Bob. When a baby elephant arrives, Ivan regains his memories and plans an escape to protect the new elephant from their abusive owner.

The book, illustrated by Patricia Castelao and written in the voice of Ivan, won the 2013 Newbery Medal. Applegate based the story of a gorilla named Ivan who spent 27 years in a Washington mall before being transferred to an Atlanta zoo.

Allison Shearmur is producing “Ivan.” She also produced “Cinderella” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” for Disney.

Sharrock, a veteran theater director, made her feature debut with last year’s “Me Before You” for MGM and New Line. The romance starred Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin and grossed $207 million worldwide on a $20 million budget. Sharrock is repped by CAA.

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