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IMAGINE THAT

Imagine That Perfect Ensemble
"Hi Moppida and Koopida. I'm Mr. Danielson. I'm Olivia's Dad” – Evan

The emotional core of "Imagine That” was the relationship between Evan and his daughter, Olivia, and the Goo-Gaa fantasy that ultimately brings them together. The role of Evan would require a balance of playing an ordinary parent who suddenly finds himself in extraordinary and comical circumstances. The actor would need to be someone with a flawless sense of comedy and a proven track record in family comedy, as well as his own magical ability to concoct original and memorable characters.

Sounds like a job for Eddie Murphy.

"After the second draft was finished, we contacted Eddie and sent him the script,” recalls di Bonaventura. "Eddie was exactly the character we imagined. His ability to convey a range of emotions was crucial and, of course, his comedic versatility is without peer.”

Both di Bonaventura and Solomon quickly discovered that the Oscar®-nominated star of "Dreamgirls” and the wildly successful "Shrek” and "Dr. Dolittle” franchises took an immediate liking to the script. "I responded to the story of ‘Imagine That' emotionally,” says Murphy. "I found it to be a sweet emotional piece, and it also offered the opportunity to find some funny moments.”

Solomon was impressed with Murphy's instincts and his unique approach to the role of Evan Danielson. "Eddie knows how to be truthful and play the tiniest of moments with genuine poignancy,” he adds. "Yet he never gets maudlin or sappy. Then, when the story calls for broadness and comic desperation, Eddie is never afraid to go all out without ever going over the top. At every stage, he is perfectly modulated. There's only one word for him, awesome.”

Murphy smiles, "I really got into the spirit of this story. It's a movie about a man who starts off feeling like he's been cursed with this oddly imaginative child. But, in the end, he realizes that he's truly blessed to have such a wonderfully unique daughter in his life. Evan was a nicely defined and nuanced character, who grows throughout the story.”

With Murphy anchoring "Imagine That,” the producers began their search for a director who could bring to the project the right balance of humor, sensitivity and emotional honesty. Although this would be his first time at the helm of a live-action film, Karey Kirkpatrick was the clear-cut choice.

As a writer, Kirkpatrick had created family-friendly fare that displayed heart and humor, including the Golden Globe-nominated film "Chicken Run,” "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” and the wildly popular "Over the Hedge.”

Di Bonaventura explains, "From the first meeting with Karey, he fundamentally understood the movie we were trying to make. But what really sold us was that in each subsequent meeting he brought in new ideas and was able to shape them in a collaborative way. His background was pitch-perfect for reaching the widest possible audience we felt this movie could appeal to.”

Moving forward with its ensemble cast, the filmmakers sought out Oscar®- nominated actor Thomas Haden Church ("Sideways”) to portray Evan's archrival, Johnny Whitefeather. The recent Emmy Award winner for Walter Hill's "Broken Trail” (for which he also earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations) is blessed with a signature voice and sense of humor that would add considerable dimension to his role of the not-quite-who-he-seems Whitefeather. Church had already worked with Kirkpatrick previously on "Over the Hedge” and "Charlotte's Web,” which re-affirmed his confidence that Kirkpatrick would be able to guide this project with the same skill and understanding he provided on their previous collaborations.

"The only way you're going to establish the necessary trust bond with a direct

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