Plot, Cast, Release Date, and Everything Else We Know
Jan 30, 2023
Author Kate DiCamillo’s book The Magician’s Elephant will soon come to life on screen. Netflix has ordered an animated film adaptation of the book, set to be released this spring.
DiCamillo is best known for her work in children’s fiction, with over 25 published titles including Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tiger Rising, The Tale of Despereaux, and Flora & Ulysses. The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses each earned DiCamillo a Newbery Medal for children’s literature. The Magician’s Elephant is set to become DiCamillo’s fifth big-screen translation after the four previously mentioned books. Screenwriter Martin Hynes will adapt the script alongside Wendy Rogers as director and Julia Pistor as producer. Netflix will handle production through their subsidiary Netflix Animation with Pistor Production and Animal Logic. Netflix is also taking care of exclusive distribution.
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With that, let’s now look at everything we know about Netflix’s The Magician’s Elephant. What can we expect from the plot, and how closely will it follow the novel? Who is lined up in the cast? When will Netflix release the film? And will it become the next big children’s book-to-movie adaptation?
The Magician’s Elephant: The Plot
DiCamillo’s novel follows Peter, a ten-year-old boy searching for his missing sister. He learns from a fortune-teller that an elephant will show him the way. After this, an elephant is conjured up by a magician in town. Along his journey, Peter has to unite a diverse group of characters to rescue his sister and save the elephant. DiCamillo explores themes of togetherness, the importance of family, and how hope can inspire people to do great things. The book was positively received and won several awards, including an ALSC Notable Children’s Book Award in 2010.
From what we know about the film’s plot, it seems it will closely adhere to the book. A plot synopsis is below.
“When Peter, who is searching for his long-lost sister named Adele, crosses paths with a fortune teller in the market square, there is only one question on his mind: is his sister still alive? The answer, that he must find a mysterious elephant and the magician who will conjure it, sets Peter off on a harrowing journey to complete three seemingly impossible tasks that will change the face of his town forever and take him on the adventure of a lifetime.”
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Director Wendy Rogers said of what drew her to the film, “Peter’s story planted itself in my heart when I first read the book – I felt very connected to him, and was totally captivated by the world and the characters. The power of hope, the belief that anything is possible, and the ability to ask “what if?” are all themes that are woven into the fabric of this film, and resonate now more than ever.”
While this marks the first film adaptation of DiCamillo’s story, it is not the first time it’s been brought to life off the page. A stage adaptation by playwright Nancy Harris ran from October 2021 to January 2022. The production premiered in what is possibly the world’s theater capital, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The stage adaptation received rave reviews from audiences and critics, just as the book did.
We can expect more plot information to follow as we approach closer to the release date.
The Magician’s Elephant: The Cast
Marvel Studios / Disney
Netflix has lined up a star-studded cast to take on the roles we loved from the book. A Quiet Place actor Noah Jupe plays the lead role of Peter, the boy who sets out to find his sister. The MCU’s own Wong, Benedict Wong, is playing the magician who conjures the elephant Peter needs to find his sister. Peter’s sister Adele is played by English actress Pixie Davies, known for her breakout performance in Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns.
Related: 10 Authors with the Most Book-to-Film Adaptations
The remainder of the cast includes Fleabag star Sian Clifford, Natasia Demetriou of What We Do in the Shadows, English actress Dawn French, Atlanta star Brian Tyree Henry, Evil actor Aasif Mandvi, Mandy Patinkin of Homeland, English actress Miranda Richardson, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark actress Lorraine Toussaint, and iconic voice actress Cree Summer. Currently, there are no roles attached to any of these stars.
We can expect more casting announcements, as well as confirmation of existing roles, in the coming weeks and months.
The Magician’s Elephant is set to be released by Netflix on March 17. However, the development of a feature film based on the book actually began before the book was even released. 20th Century Fox acquired the film rights to The Magician’s Elephant in August 2009, ahead of the book’s September release. However, the film was stuck in development for over a decade until producer Julia Pistor took the project to Netflix in December 2020.
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