Stellaluna is a 2018 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Walt Disney Wonder Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Jason VanBorssum in his directorial debut, it is based on the book of the same name by Janell Cannon, and tells the story of a young fruit bat named Stellaluna who ends up in a nest and befriends three baby birds and their mother after she is separated from her mother. The film features the voices of Miley Cyrus, Christine Baranski, and Ginnifer Goodwin, with narration by Viggo Mortensen.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jason VanBorssum|
|Produced by|| Gary Marsh|
|Written by|| James Ward Byrkit|
|Based on|| Stellaluna|
|Starring|| Miley Cyrus|
|Narrated by||Viggo Mortensen|
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Cinematography|| Thomas E. Ackerman|
|Edited by||Mark W. Rosenbaum|
|Production company|| Walt Disney Pictures|
Walt Disney Wonder Studios
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
|Release date||October 25, 2018|
|Running time||80 minutes|
|Box office||$300 million|
In November 2017, Walt Disney Wonder Studios acquired the rights for a film based on one of Cannon's books. They tried adapt either Crickwing or Verdi, but neither one came to fruition. They decided to adapt Stellaluna instead, which Disney knew would be better. The animation team redesigned the characters in order for them to be more appealing. Composer Harry Gregson-Williams, who worked on Disney In The House: Christmas and Lego Spy, returned to score Stellaluna.
The film was released theatrically in the United States on October 25, 2018. Upon release, Stellaluna was praised for its animation, humor, and voice acting. It was a box office success, earning $300 million on a $75 million budget. The film received nominations for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for "I'f You're A Bat" at the 91st Academy Awards, losing to both Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and A Star Is Born, respectively.
The film begins with a friendly spotted eagle-owl named Eddie Van Eager who tells an incredible story that takes place in a warm and sultry forest far, far, away, where a mother fruit bat had a new baby, Stellaluna. One night, a large eagle-owl attacks the bats, knocking Stellaluna out of her mother's embrace, and she falls into the forest below, before finally ending up in a sparrow's nest filled with three baby birds named Pip, Flitter, and Flap. The mother bird will let Stellaluna be part of the family only if she eats bugs, does not hang by her feet, and sleeps at night.
When the babies grow, they learn to fly. Later on, when Stellaluna, Pip, Flitter, and Flap are out playing, it gets dark and the birds go without her because they will not be able to see in the dark. Stellaluna keeps flying, but when her wings hurt, she stops to rest. When she does, she hangs by her thumbs. Soon another bat comes to tell her why she is hanging by her thumbs. As she tells the other bats her story, Mother Bat reunites with her, and Stellaluna finally understands why she is so different. The owl attacks again, but, with courage, Stellaluna manages to drive the owl away.
Excited about learning how to be a bat, Stellaluna decides to find Pip, Flitter, and Flap in order to share her new experiences. After being unable to find them in a cave, a grizzly bear chases them, but Pip, Flitter, Flap, and Mother Bird help Stellaluna and Mother Bat defeat the bear. They agree to join Stellaluna and the bats at night, but find that they are unsuited to flying at night and nearly crash when the owl attacks again. Stellaluna rescues Pip, Flitter, and Flap and defeats the owl once and for all, and they decide that while they may be different, they are still friends and family.
- Miley Cyrus as Stellaluna, a young fruit bat who was adopted by birds. She is the film's protagonist.
- Christine Baranski as Mother Bird, a sparrow and the mother of Pip, Flitter, and Flap.
- Viggo Mortensen as Eddie Van Eager, a friendly spotted eagle-owl. He is the film's narrator.
- Ginnifer Goodwin as Mother Bat, a fruit bat and the mother of Stellaluna.
- Tara Strong as Pip, Flitter, and Flap, three birds who adopted Stellaluna. Pip is the film's deuteragonist, Flitter is the film's tritagonist, and the Flap is the film's tetartagonist.
- Andy Dick as a bat who asks Stellaluna why she is so different.
- Gary Marsh, Gary Krisel, Bob Iger, and Derek Stephen Prince as bats
Stellaluna was released on October 25, 2018, and grossed $195 million in its opening weekend. It grossed $100 million in the United States and Canada, and $200 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $300 million by the end of the theatrical run on January 15, 2019. Produced on a $75 million budget, it was a box office success.
Stellaluna has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 135 reviews. The consensus reads, "This adaptation of Janell Cannon's famous book about the bat is heartwarming". Metacritic signed the film to a score of 87 out of 100 based on 24 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
A.O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film four stars and wrote, "Stellaluna is a good book, and when Disney adapted it into a computer-animated feature, the magic of the book was still there". Bilge Ebiri of Vulture was "surprised" by the film's calm tone. Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun Times gave the film "Two Thumbs Up". Christopher Orr of The Atlantic called the film an "instant classic". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said the story "left him with teary eyes", and praised the performance of Miley Cyrus as Stellaluna.