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ICE AGE director developing a bull of a film with FERDINAND

Movie Sandra Bullock by Jim Napier

Fox Animation Studios has acquired The Story of Ferdinand, the classic 1936 children’s book, by author Munro Leaf and illustrator Robert Lawson and is currently developing it into a CGI feature film. Carlos Saldanha (director on the Ice Age movies, Rio) is helming the project  and plans to direct.

For those of you not familiar with the story, Ferdinand is about a pacifist bull who’d rather frolick outdoors than thrill with matadors. The book celebrates its diamond anniversary this year, and continues to be one of the best-selling children’s books of all time: It’s sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. alone, and millions more in the 36 countries in which it's been published. Sales spiked after Sandra Bullock read the story to her sons in Blind Side; according to Regina Hayes, president of Viking Children’s Books, roughly 100,000 copies were sold as a result of the film alone.

This new deal marks the first feature-film adaptation, but it’s not the first time Ferdinand has appeared on the big screen. In 1938, Disney released an animated short and won an Oscar in that category. You can check out the short here, it's well worth a watch. 

The short has a unique history at Disney. Unlike almost every other animated property in the vault, the studio oddly failed to get a contract with Leaf and Lawson beyond its onetime use according to Martin Bright (estate manager for Lawson). After the bull made it's cameo in Blind Side, he received lots of calls from producers and studios who wanted to do a feature adaptation. He opted to ink a deal with Fox Animation who'd been interested before it's recent cameo.

I grew up reading and seeing the Disney short so this is going to be a perfect feature adaptation. What are your thoughts of this news?

Here is a description of the book from Amazon:

What else can be said about the fabulous Ferdinand? Published more than 50 years ago (and one of the bestselling children's books of all time), this simple story of peace and contentment has withstood the test of many generations. Ferdinand is a little bull who much prefers sitting quietly under a cork tree-- just smelling the flowers--to jumping around, snorting, and butting heads with other bulls. This cow is no coward--he simply has his pacifist priorities clear. As Ferdinand grows big and strong, his temperament remains mellow, until the day he meets with the wrong end of a bee. In a show of bovine irony, the one day Ferdinand is most definitely not sitting quietly under the cork tree (due to a frightful sting), is the selfsame day that five men come to choose the "biggest, fastest, roughest bull" for the bullfights in Madrid.

Ferdinand's day in the arena gives readers not only an education in the historical tradition of bullfighting, but also a lesson in nonviolent tranquility. Robert Lawson's black-and-white drawings are evocative and detailed, with especially sweet renditions of Ferdinand, the serene bull hero. The Story of Ferdinand closes with one of the happiest endings in the history of happy endings--readers of all ages will drift off to a peaceful sleep, dreaming of sweet-smelling flowers and contented cows.

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