"The Star," hitting theaters on November 17, is a family-friendly Christmas film that tackles the story of the nativity in a reverent, yet humorous way, producer DeVon Franklin and Academy Award-nominated writer/director Timothy Reckart have revealed.
Featuring a star-studded cast including Steven Yeun ("The Walking Dead"), Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, singer Kelly Clarkson, and Gina Rodriguez ("Jane the Virgin"), "The Star" tells the story of Jesus' birth as documented in the New Testament - from the point of the animals.
"It's one of those films where you've never seen this perspective before. It's really the first of it's kind," Franklin ("Miracles from Heaven") told The Gospel Herald, pointing out that the film is the first faith-based animation film to hit theaters on a mass scale since 1998 with "Prince of Egypt."
"To tell a classic story from an unconventional point of view, we think is a really great way to get families and people to really see the story in a new way and re-introduce it to a new generation," he added.
While there's no shortage of classic Christmas films -- from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to "It's a Wonderful Life" -- none of them are actually about the birth of Christ, Reckart said.
"None of those family-friendly, animated projects really cover that at a studio-level of quality," he said. "So, that's honestly what got me really excited about participating in this project, was to make a film that it's almost impossible to believe doesn't exist yet."
According to the film synopsis, "The Star" follows "a small but brave donkey named Bo [who] yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow 'The Star' and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told - the first Christmas."
While "The Star" is chock-full of humor and stunning animation, Franklin emphasized that remaining true to the Biblical account of Jesus' birth was filmmakers' primary goal.
"All the things that you know about the nativity story are there; the room at the inn, the baby boy in the manger," Franklin said. "But, where we can have fun...is showing how the animals played a role behind the scenes in getting Mary and Joseph from point A to point B. So, it was good to have some rigor around the things we couldn't change, which then freed us up with the areas in between, which we could change."
"We can tell the new story that you don't know because we can rely on the story that you do know," Reckart added.
While "The Star" is a faith-based, inspirational film, it will appeal to a much wider audience, as the themes of hope, joy, and Christmas cheer are universal.
"There's so many people that celebrate Christmas that aren't necessarily church-going Christians, and I think to the extent that Christmas means anything to them, then the film will also be meaningful to them," Reckart said.
"The movie operates on two levels," Franklin said. "The movie works even if you don't know the story."
Animation, he added, isn't just for children -- it's for all audiences.
"What better way to get your children to understand a story that really is the bedrock of your faith than to go to a shared experience like this, where [parents] can watch it with their child, they can fill in the gaps, they can open up dialogue," he said. And, along the way, we believe they're going to be inspired, too."
"The Star" was executive-produced by Franklin and Lisa Henson and Brian Henson (The Jim Henson Company). The screenplay was written by Carlos Kotkin with digital animation by Cinesite Studios.
For more information about the film, click here.