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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Angelina Jolie stands among red explosions

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Disney+ continues taking steps into the world of streaming exclusives, with two very important landmarks taking place. Not only is today’s release of Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Artemis Fowl part of that newly forming strategy, but Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie’s next Disney picture has now become a streaming debut! Prepare to meet The One and Only Ivan, exclusively on Disney+, this August.

Originally slated for an August 14th bow in theaters, the musical chairs scheduling that has overtaken the 2020 film market has pushed The One and Only Ivan by only about a week, and to a new platform. Directed by Me Before You’s Thea Sharrock, this movie stars Jolie as an elephant named Stella, who becomes an unexpected mother figure when an abused baby elephant named Ruby (Brooklynn Prince) winds up in the menagerie at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Starring as the titular gorilla that finds his heart immovably warmed at the center of author K.A. Applegate’s children’s literature hit is fellow Oscar winner Sam Rockwell, who will give The One and Only Ivan his unique voice.

Her first film for Disney since last year’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Angelina Jolie is part of an impressive voice cast that, along with Rockwell, boasts some impressive heavyweights like Chaka Khan, Helen Mirren, Danny DeVito, and Ron Funches. And starring as the owner of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, Mack, is Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. His role will be one of the flesh and blood additions to this movie’s cast, as The One and Only Ivan will get to tell its tale with CGI animals and live-action humans, which is a classic strategy in the Disney magic playbook.

Exciting is one of the words that comes to mind when seeing how Disney+ is leveraging The One and Only Ivan, as we’ve seen studios start to take family films like Trolls: World Tour and Scoob to premium VOD and streaming fairly frequently in the wake of COVID-19. Even Disney themselves jumped into the saddle when they fast tracked the home streaming release of Onward as major theaters closed their doors in the name of safety and security.

Then again, another word that crops up in the reactions to this decision is “scary”, especially in the light of this weekend’s not-so-rosy launch of Artemis Fowl. The subject to a critical panning so harsh The Last Days of American Crime kind of feels sorry for it, the already twice delayed Disney adaptation found itself shifted to streaming in a decision made earlier this year. So while some may see this as Disney making a new and exciting gamble, as they had by opening Disney+ with films like Noelle and the Lady and The Tramp remake, others might be worried if this is going to be something of that sort of quality.

The world won’t have to wait too long, as The One and Only Ivan will debut under the Big Top (Mall and Video Arcade), exclusively on Disney+, on August 21st! So now’s a pretty good time to check out the 7-day free trial offer that’ll grant any non-subscribers in the audience the chance to see what they’ve been missing.

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