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This Christmas, Sony Pictures is retelling the Christmas story through an animated film that puts the Nativity’s most overlooked characters in the spotlight. The Star, in theaters nationwide Nov. 17, brings the narrative of the first Christmas to life told from the perspective of Bo, an ordinary donkey, and his animal friends.

“I think those animals have always been part of everyone’s Nativity set. We’ve just never asked what their side of the story was,” says the film’s director, Timothy Reckart. “The tone doesn’t have to be so heavy. We can have a lot more comedy without making Mary and Joseph into comedy characters. We can have action without making them into action heroes. We can be faithful to the story we all know from Scripture while still having fun.”

Reckart and his team set out to create a film of exceptional quality, and that included casting the vocal talents of Steven Yeun, Zachary Levi, Kelly Clarkson, Patricia Heaton, Kristin Chenoweth, Christopher Plummer, Tracy Morgan, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey.

“People came with various levels of experience in animation, but what united everyone was the excitement to do a movie that was going to be meaningful to their own families,” Reckart says.

The creators of The Star were also very intentional about crafting high-end ancillary products to compliment the film’s message. A picture book and soundtrack, featuring songs from both mainstream pop acts and Christian artists, will support the theatrical release.

“We hope these products allow our audiences to engage with this movie and this story even outside the movie theater,” Reckart offers. “This Christmas, maybe this can be the way that parents are talking to kids about the Christmas story.”

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—Lindsay Williams