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EXT. SKY - NIGHT 1
(The sound of an orchestra tuning up. Tilt down from twinkling stars to reveal the most beautiful old theater in a street heaving with life, but not human life. This is a city inhabited entirely by animals (from Disney’s Zootopia). We glide under the illuminated marquee and through the doors into a grand foyer, where the very last patrons hurry to their seats.
INT. THEATRE - CONTINUOUS
(The ornate house lights dim... Voices hushed. The music starts. The orchestra is loud and dramatic.) BACKSTAGE: (A lever is pulled... A sandbag drops from the rafters...)
STAGE MANAGER: Places, everyone!
(A stage light turns on and points towards the stage. A MONKEY stands in the wings and pulls tightly on a rope. The Curtain opens, revealing a stage set resembling an enchanted wood. FROM THE WINGS we see the back of a FEMALE SHEEP (NANA NOODLEMAN) in a stunning purple dress and a tiara waiting to go on stage. STAGE HANDS adjust the train of her gown. Nana’s shoulders rise and fall as she takes a last breath before stepping out. As NANA raises her face into the spotlight she sings “Golden Slumbers” by the Beatles.)
NANA: ONCE THERE WAS A WAY TO GET BACK HOMEWARD.
ONCE THERE WAS A WAY TO GET BACK HOME.
SLEEP PRETTY DARLING DO NOT CRY.
AND I WILL SING A LULLABY...
The camera turns away from the stage to view the audience...
BUSTER (V.O.): This was it. The moment it all began. The moment an ordinary little guy fell in love with the theater...
(... We find an adorably scruffy little koala - BUSTER MOON - sitting with his FATHER in the balcony. His father pulls him up onto his knee. Buster’s eyes are wide, enthralled.)
BUSTER (V.O.): ... Everything about it; the lights, the way the scenery moved, even the smell. He was only 6 years old but his plans to become the first koala bear in space were suddenly toast.
(Buster’s father delights in his son’s response to the show.)
EXT. MOON THEATER FOYER - DAY
CLOSE UP: Young adult BUSTER and his FATHER.
(We pull back to reveal Buster about to cut a ribbon in the theater foyer. His FATHER stands proudly next to him and a photo is taken - freezing the action in a PHOTO.)
BUSTER (V.O.): Some folks may have said he grew up to be the greatest showman this city has ever seen, some called him a visionary, a maverick...
(The camera continues to pull wider to reveal the PHOTO hangs on a wall amongst posters for theatrical productions.)
BUSTER (V.O.): Sure, some folks said he was as crazy as he was stubborn, but I say “Wonder and magic don’t come easy pal.” And oh, there would never be any doubt...
(At the base of this wall of photos we find Buster sat in a chair facing his posters. He spins around and talks into camera.)
BUSTER (V.O.): The name Buster Moon would go down in entertainment history. And I should know, because I am Buster --
ANGRY CHIMPANZEE (O.S.) --Moon! Open this door!
(It’s the present day, the action is now live and Buster is startled as if waking from a dream.)
THE SECRETARY: MISS CRAWLY - a spectacularly doddery old chameleon with one glass eye - enters through a connecting office door.
MISS CRAWLY: Good morning, Mr. Moon.
BUSTER: Miss Crawly, what uh...what’s going on?
MISS CRAWLY: You gotta lot of animals waiting to see you, Mr. Moon.
BUSTER: I do?
(Buster peers through the closed blinds to see --)
BUSTER: (CONT’D) (Whispering) Holey Moley, I really do.
(-- a group of ANGRY ANIMALS waiting and pacing in the hall outside his office. KNOCKING AND SHOUTING CONTINUES THROUGHOUT.)
MISS CRAWLY: Yeah, it’s the stage crew from your last show. They say their pay checks bounced and--
BUSTER: (Whispers to Miss Crawly) Tell ‘em I’ll call up the bank and make sure they’re paid, tout suite.
MISS CRAWLY: Oh, I got Judith from the bank holding on line 2 right now, sir.
(She points towards a red light flashing on Buster’s telephone.)
BUSTER: Um. Actually I’m gonna have to call her back.
(Buster grabs a briefcase and dashes across the room.)
MISS CRAWLY: Oh. What should I tell her this time?
(Buster moves a large old poster to reveal a SMALL HOLE IN THE WALL.)
BUSTER: (Gusto) Tell her Buster Moon is out to lunch!
And with that, Buster vanishes through the hole.
INT. MOON THEATER RAFTERS - CONTINUOUS
(O.S.: We continue to hear the muffled sound of the angry crew knocking. Buster crawls across the narrow planks that crisscross VERY HIGH above the stage - the stuff of vertigo!)
ANGRY CHIMPANZEE (O.S.) Moon, open this door! Come on, Moon! I know you’re in there!
(Buckets half-filled with rain water placed beneath holes in the roof, line his path. Buster steps on to a LARGE WOODEN CRESCENT MOON PROP...)
(Buster releases a tethered rope. A counterweight rises and the MOON DROPS WITH BUSTER RIDING IT LIKE AN ELEVATOR. The crescent moon carries Buster down from the rafters and stops on the stage (which is looking old and shabby.))
EXT. MOON THEATRE - MOMENTS LATER
(Buster exits the theatre present day: a little worse for wear and squeezed between two larger, more modern buildings. We can still hear the angry animals shouting his name as Buster hops on a bicycle and cycles off down the street.)
ANGRY CHIMPANZEE (O.S.) Moon, open this door!
EXT. SKY - DAY
(Buster CYCLES DOWN THE HILL AT TOP SPEED and the camera WHOOSHES away, taking us on an epic tour of the city! He speeds down the street, nearly hitting a GARBAGE TRUCK. Buster swerves, avoiding cars.)
GARBAGE TRUCK DRIVER: Yikes!
TITLE CARD: SING
(A RHINO COP directing traffic with a shrill whistle. A PIG rides a scooter over a canal bridge under which a whale surfaces momentarily.)
PIG: Hey, watch it!
(SALMON wearing neckties leap up water-filled steps... WHOOSH... as Buster bikes down the same steps. We find ourselves at the end of an alleyway where we hear a beautiful, soulful voice singing ACAPPELLA: “The Way I Feel Inside” by The Zombies. You would think these tender tones emanate from a sensitive creature...)
JOHNNY: ...IN YOUR MIND, COULD YOU EVER BE...
(... But we find the source to be a HUGE, TEENAGE GORILLA idly leaning against an alley wall and singing to no one.)
JOHNNY: (CONT’D) ...REALLY CLOSE TO ME? I CAN TELL THE WAY YOU SMILE.
IF I FEEL THAT I COULD BE CERTAIN THEN,
I WOULD SAY THE THINGS I WANT TO SAY TONI--
(The sound of a walkie-talkie cuts Johnny off. Johnny looks around the corner: 2 POLICE RHINOS are strolling in his direction. Johnny gasps as he ducks back into the shadows of the alley just as the COPS appear - mildly curious.)
POLICE RHINO: Huh. Thought I heard someone singin’ there. Ah, whatever.
(Johnny whispers urgently into his own WALKIE-TALKIE.)
JOHNNY: Guys! Listen! Stay where you are! The cops are here and--
(Too late -- 2 HUGE GORILLAS IN BUNNY MASKS CARRYING SACKS OF LOOT SMASH THROUGH A WINDOW FURTHER DOWN THE ALLEY. ALARMS RING.)
POLICE RHINO 2: What the...
POLICE RHINO: Hey! Hold it right there!
(The Gorillas see the cops and dash out of sight down a perpendicular alleyway. The cops charge past JOHNNY (still hiding in the shadows) but they are forced back against the wall as the GANG’S TRUCK roars around the corner, then charges right past them.)
BIG DADDY: Go, go, go!
POLICE RHINOS: Woah!
(As the truck passes JOHNNY - he leaps on to the back where the two other Gorilla’s cling to their loot. The leader (BIG DADDY) commands with fierce authority.)
BIG DADDY: Johnny! You were supposed to be keeping a lookout!
JOHNNY: (out of breath) Sorry Dad.
BIG DADDY: And where’s ya mask?
(Johnny awkwardly pulls on a bunny mask. Sirens wail as the VAN takes a hairpin bend -- WHOOSH! The camera FLIES away, twisting and turning through the city into the window of AN APARTMENT where we find ROSITA (A FEMALE PIG) washing dishes while singing along with the radio playing “Firework” by Katy Perry.)
RADIO/ROSITA: DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE A PLASTIC BAG
DRIFTING THROUGH THE WIND, WANTING TO
(Rosita turns to switch off the tap in time to stop a jug of water from over-flowing. She turns, kicks a football safely out of her way, and carries a jug of water towards a table where 25 PIGLETS feast on their lunch like barbarians.)
ROSITA: DO YOU EVER FEEL, FEEL SO PAPER THIN...
(As she re-fills their glasses, some of the piglets CRINGE at her singing. Another piglet (CASPAR) leaps on to the table.)
PIGLET CASPAR: Look at me - I’m mommy! LA LA LA!
(He crudely mimics Rosita singing and the piglets EXPLODE WITH LAUGHTER.)
ROSITA: Caspar, get off the table.
(He doesn’t of course, so Rosita has to wrangle him instead. NORMAN, Rosita’s husband, enters wearing a suit and tie.)
NORMAN: Rosita, have you seen my car keys?
PIGLETS: La la laaa! La la la la la!
(Rosita pulls the car keys out of a piglet’s mouth and hurls them to Norman before dealing with Caspar who continues to mock her singing.)
ROSITA: Norman, would you please tell them what a good singer I am. Norman checks his phone as he talks.
NORMAN: Oh yeah, you were great, honey--
(He kisses Rosita’s cheek and rushes to the door.)
NORMAN (O.S.) (CONT’D) ---By the way, the bathroom sink is blocked again. Bye, honey!
(SLAM! He exits leaving Rosita in the midst of chaos. She walks to the window, turns up the radio and gazes wistfully into the distance as she leans against the windowsill -- WHOOSH! The camera continues straight out of the window PAST THE UNDERPANTS -- Shoots through the city... Towards the party side of town... and through the air vents of a Tiki bar...)
LANCE: 1, 2... 1, 2, 3, 4!
(... To a stage where a surly GOTH PORCUPINE DUO (LANCE and ASH) perform an original song “I DON’T WANNA”. Imagine Siouxsie Sioux and Robert Smith, but bristling with black quills and playing electric guitars.)
I DON’T WANNA TALK TO YA!
I DON’T WANNA WALK WITH YA!
I’M NOT GONNA PLAY FOR YA!
I DON’T NEED ANYONE ELSE!
I LIVE MY LIFE BY MYSELF!
NOT LISTENING ANYWAY!
ASH: NOTHING TO SAY. OUT OF THE WAY.
DON’T WANNA PLAY.
I DON’T NEED ANYONE ELSE.
I LIVE MY LIFE BY MYSELF.
CAN’T STAND THE THINGS THAT YOU SAY--
(LANCE plays it cool but ASH gets carried away, kicks over her own mic and joins LANCE on lead vocals at his mic. LANCE pushes ASH off of his mic.)
(BUT THE MUSIC SUDDENLY STOPS DEAD and the camera turns to reveal a contrasting scene: a cheesy HAWAIIAN-STYLE BAR empty except for the owner: A BEAR called HARRY in a Hawaiian shirt, who has pulled the plug and holds it up - aghast.)
HARRY: Oh my gosh! I thought you guys said you were musicians!
(MINUTES LATER: We remain in the bar as ASH AND LANCE pack up and the next band set up/tune.)
LANCE: Ash - babe - I’m the lead singer, okay? Just stick to the backing vocals.
ASH: Sorry, I--I get carried away.
LANCE: Yeah, I know, right, it just kind of ruins my song, ya know?
(WHOOSH! We zoom through the streets until we find ourselves outside a small house --)
MEENA (a female teenage Indian elephant) lights the last of 70 candles on a birthday cake. She carries the cake in while singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Her voice is beautiful. The house is very small indeed.
MEENA: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR GRANDPA!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
(BEAT AS GRANDPA, GRANDMA and MOM sigh in admiration.)
GRANDPA, GRANDMA, MOM: Awwww!
MEENA (Blushing) What? C’mon, make your wish.
(We HOLD ON MEENA throughout the following as she blushes at her Grandpa’s grand exclamations.)
GRANDPA ELEPHANT: Humph! I wish you’d join a choir, a local band or something--
MEENA: I tried --
GRANDPA ELEPHANT: -- Bah!
MEENA’S MOTHER: Hey, hey, dad, we’ve been over this.
GRANDPA ELEPHANT: So she’s a little shy - so what? If I had a voice like Meena’s I’d be a superstar by now. Just singin’... (singing) Oooh yeah, I said ooooh yeah...
MEENA: Sure you would, Grandpa. Now blow out your candles.
GRANDPA ELEPHANT: Humph.
(Grandpa closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and blows out the candles with a great BLAST and TRUMPETING SOUND of his trunk -- WHOOSH! -- The BLAST carries us out of the house, down the street and up to-- The steps of a subway station where a lone saxophone reverberates. A white mouse called MIKE plays a superb sax solo. A BABOON tosses a coin into his case. Mike stops playing and regards the coin with disgust.)
MIKE: A penny? How dare you! I happened to have studied at the Lincoln School of Music!
BABOON: Sorry, it’s, it’s all I got right now. Heh.
MIKE: (Sarcastically) Oh, is that so?
(He JUMPS down the stairs and grabs the Baboon by the collar.)
MIKE (CONT’D): (with fire and brimstone) Alright, prove it, pal!
MIKE: Empty your pockets, right now!
(The Baboon is totally freaked out and awkwardly empties his pockets. Mike checks everything that lands on the ground.)
BABOON: (out of breath) Trying to find... trying to find...
MIKE: Wha--What is this ya got here? Whaddya smoke outta this?
BABOON (Wheezing) That’s my inhaler.
(The baboon’s money clip filled with bills lands on the ground. Mike grabs it and waves it like a defense lawyer to passers by.)
MIKE: Ah ha! I knew it! You all saw it! You all saw it right here! The monkey lied!
BABOON: Wha...I forgot I had that...
(The baboon clears his throat. Mike takes a handful of dollars out and hurls the empty money clip at the baboon.)
BABOON (CONT’D): Ah!
MIKE: And next time pick on someone ya own size! You bully.
(The wheezing Baboon runs for his life as Mike resumes his sax tune. -- WHOOSH -- we zoom away from Mike and the Baboon to... The fanciest restaurant in town - LES CALMARS - named after its distinctive use of squid-filled tanks. Buster arrives on his bicycle beside the valet parking attendant (A CHIMPANZEE.) Buster walks away and the bike frame falls apart in the valet’s hands.)
BUSTER: Take care of her, will you? She may look old and rusty but she is a classic.
INT. LES CALMARS - DAY
(We find Buster and his friend Eddie (A SHEEP) sitting at a table in this extremely fancy restaurant. A gigantic tank filled with luminous squid frames their conversation.)
BUSTER: Okay listen, we both know that my theater’s been going through some pretty rough times lately. But as the saying goes, “for every cloud, a silver lining.” We’ve got--
EDDIE: -- Upp upp upp. Hold on right there, Buster. My dad - he heard I was gonna see you today and he was all like, "Eddie, you tell that koala I am not funding anymore of those shows. And that’s final!" Those were his words.
BUSTER: But your dad’s right! Those shows were the problem! War of Attrition, Rosie Takes A Bow - I mean, nobody wants to see that stuff anymore. So what do I do?
BUSTER: No! I give ‘em a show they cannot resist. Which is gonna be--
(A MAÎTRE D’ clears his throat and takes out pen and pad.)
BUSTER: (CONT’D, To the waiter) Just one more minute, s’il vous plait?
(The MAÎTRE D’ checks his watch, groans and exits.)
BUSTER: (CONT’D) ...Merci!
EDDIE: Don’t speak French, they speak English here.
BUSTER: Now, my next show is gonna be - drum roll please... (using his fingers as drumsticks) A singing competition!
EDDIE: A singing competition? Who wants to see another one of those?
BUSTER: Everyone! J-just think - your neighbor, the, the, the grocery store manager, that, that, that chicken right there-- (a chicken walks by) --everyone in this city gets a shot at being a star live on my stage!
EDDIE: Buster, this is a terrible idea.
BUSTER: Oh, no it’s not. Real talent from real life, that’s what audiences want and I’m gonna *give it to ‘em!
Buster *pounds his fist, catapulting his spoon across the room where it knocks into a BULL, who drops his cell phone into his soup.
BULL: (on the phone) Alright look--
EDDIE: C-can we please just get outta here?
BUSTER: Don’t you wanna eat?
(Eddie points at the menu.)
EDDIE: Yeah, but we can’t afford any of this.
BUSTER: Yes, I know. And that’s why I brought sandwiches.
(Buster pulls out a lunch box and throws a sandwich to Eddie.)
EDDIE: Uhhh... That’s not allowed. Ugh.
BUSTER: What, you don’t like peanut butter and jelly?
(FURIOUS, the Maître D’ leaves the disgruntled Bull’s side and heads towards Buster.)
’MAITRE’D: (to Bull) Excuse me, sir.
BUSTER: Okay, look, I got cream cheese, I got banan-- (Maitre D’ grabs Buster) ---Aaaaa!
EXT. LES CALMARS - CONTINUOUS
(Buster is thrown out of the revolving doors and onto the street. A painful landing. Eddie arrives by his side and gives him his bag and jacket.)
EDDIE: You okay?
BUSTER: Yep, never better!
BUSTER: Oh, dad, I’m so sorry. (he begins to cry)
More coming soon.