With the holidays just around the corner, Sony Pictures Animation turned Westwood into a winter wonderland as it rolled out its snow white carpet for the premiere of “The Star” on Sunday.
Yes, the nativity story has been retold many times on screen. “The Star,” however, is the first film to show the first Christmas from the animals’ point of view.
“The Bible doesn’t tell us what the animals were thinking, so that’s a sandbox that we basically had free rein to be creative in,” director Timothy Reckart said.
Additionally, “The Star” is one of the few faith-based animated features to have a wide theatrical release — after DreamWorks’ “The Prince of Egypt” in 1998. Still, producer DeVon Franklin (“Miracles From Heaven”) explained to Variety why the new family film’s plot isn’t the only part of the project that can be considered “unchartered territory.”
“This is the first CGI-animated film from a major studio, based on a Bible story, ever in the history of Hollywood,” Franklin shared.
Although the film follows the birth of Jesus Christ, Walden Media CEO Frank Smith and Naia Cucukov, senior VP of development and production, agreed that faith-based films can have universal themes for everyone to enjoy.
“Even though it’s going to be fun and have music in it and have jokes, it’s got to have the true message,” Smith said.
“It’s [about] believing in yourself,” Cucukov added.
Gina Rodriguez, who plays Mary in the film, told Variety that her faith and the film’s good nature drew her to the project. “It’s typecasting,” she joked, in reference to her characters in the film and in The CW’s “Jane the Virgin.”
“If you go back to the Bible, he didn’t say much,” co-star Zachary Levi said about his character, Joseph. “[But] the writers did a great job of bringing a lot of that to life.”
With a star-studded cast, including Oprah Winfrey, Kristin Chenoweth, Christopher Plummer, Mariah Carey, Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Perry, and Anthony Anderson, the soundtrack has its own star power, featuring Carey, Kirk Franklin, Jessie James Decker, and Fifth Harmony — who were also on hand for the Los Angeles screening.
“The Star” bows Nov. 17.