We Bought a Zoo (2011)

WE BOUGHT A ZOO is an upcoming comedy-drama (based on real events) directed by Cameron Crowe starring Matt Damon and Thomas Haden Church as brothers Benjamin & Duncan Mee. Ben's wife Katherine will be portrayed by Stephanie Szostak, with Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Colin Ford as their children. Cast also includes Scarlett Johansson, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, and Angus Macfadyen. (I'm assuming that Johansson and Fanning are fictional characters introduced into the plot but hope they don't stray too far from the book.)

Not a period drama but I loved the book!

Matt Damon, Stephanie Szostak, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones

The film is based on a memoir by Benjamin Mee about how the author and his family used their life savings to buy a dilapidated zoo (Dartmoor Zoological Park) in 2006, replete with 200 exotic animals facing destruction, in the English countryside. (The film is set in southern California instead.)

Recreating the zoo:
"On a 450-acre ranch in Thousand Oaks, location manager Chris Baugh is overseeing the creation of that same film's zoo — made from scratch just for the movie. There are horses pastured nearby, and while everything seems bucolic and calm at the moment, that could change: Tigers will eventually populate the zoo set. "Wait till we bring in the big cats," Baugh says." [Feb 25, 2011 NPR]

It is set for release on December 23, 2011.

Dartmoor Zoological Park

Interview with author Benjamin Mee


  1. Oh, this sounds wonderful! Wish they kept it in England, though, the Anglophile that I am :)

  2. I agree. I hope the movie doesn't twist too many of the facts.

  3. It's really nice they're making this lovely book into a movie, but why is England not good enough?

  4. birdienl,
    I'd hate to think of it as England not being good enough! Have to say that the setting of the zoo was more key than fact it was set in England but I still worry that they're fictionalizing too much of this family's own experience. I'd like to think that Crowe is respectful of the original source!

  5. There is an overwhelming sentimentality to Cameron Crowe's movie "We Bought A Zoo". This is not all strictly 'fun and games'. Crowe has always had the ability to dig deep in his pockets to reach the real issue. In this lovely film it is definitely more about a family's grieving, and the way the father Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) has to try to re-construct his family after the major loss of his wife and his two children's mother, less then a year prior.

    Hey no easy task involved anywhere, especially with his son (Colin Ford giving a great performance as Dylan) who is scattered in his grief and anger. Add Thomas Hayden Church as the brother and a lot of comedic relief countering Benjamin all the time, as Ben says yes to things, he says "NO" in typical Hayden Church style. I can't forget his very young, starry-eyed daughter Rosie who adds so much childlike whimsy to this and seems to have a lot of knowledge for her age.



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