Production started this week in Vancouver on Walt Disney Pictures’ Flora & Ulysses, directed by Lena Khan and based on the Newberry Award–winning children’s book, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo. The film is being produced for the upcoming streaming service Disney+, which launches in the U.S. on November 12.
Director Lena Khan made waves with her first feature film, The Tiger Hunter, which released in 2017 and was financed by crowdfunding. The comedy about a South Asian Muslim immigrant attempting to find his way in 1970s America garnered positive reviews for Khan, a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and spotlighted her talents as a Muslim woman behind the camera.
Flora & Ulysses tells the story of 10-year-old Flora, an avid comic book fan and a self-avowed cynic, who saves a squirrel she names Ulysses only to have its unique superhero powers wreak havoc in a series of humorous, antic-filled adventures that ultimately change Flora’s life — and her outlook — forever.
Matilda Lawler steps into the role of Flora, marking her film debut. She currently stars on Broadway as Honor Carney in Jez Butterworth’s Tony Award–winning play The Ferryman, directed by Sam Mendes. Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother, American Pie) plays Flora’s romance-writer mother, Phyllis, and Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation, Modern Family) plays the role of her world-weary, estranged father, George. Newcomer Benjamin Evans Ainsworth plays the role of William, Flora’s newfound, but annoying, friend, and Danny Pudi (Community, The Tiger Hunter) joins the cast as Miller, an overly zealous animal control officer.
Flora & Ulysses is produced by Academy Award–nominated film producer Gil Netter (Life of Pi, The Blind Side, Marley and Me), and James Powers (The Maze Runner series) and Katterli Frauenfelder (Dumbo, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) are the executive producers. The book was adapted for the screen by Brad Copeland (Ferdinand, Wild Hogs).
Khan and the producers assembled a talented roster of filmmakers, including director of photography Andrew Dunn (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Crazy, Stupid, Love.); production designer Michael Fitzgerald (Medal of Honor, The Tiger Hunter); editor Lee Haxall (Always Be My Maybe); and costume designer Mona May (Santa Clarita Diet, Enchanted).