From the “It was bound to happen” file, Deadline is reporting that Walt Disney Pictures has shut down production on Wes (The Maze Runner) Ball‘s movie based on David Petersen‘s Eisner-winning Mouse Guard, just two weeks before filming was scheduled to begin.
The movie adaptation was planned as a motion-capture film with quite a bit of casting news last month with Thomas Brodie-Sangster (also from The Maze Runner), Idris Elba and performance-capture vet Andy Serkis signing on before cameras were scheduled to roll. Ball himself had been on the project since late 2017.
It’s a little frustrating for fans of Petersen’s beloved series of graphic novels, because it was showing Fox to take some initiative in continuing their dedication to adapting non-superhero graphic novels into mainstream films, following the success of Matthew Vaunghn’s Kingsmen series. (A third movie in Vaughn’s series has been scheduled for release next year.)
Mouse Guard takes place in the 12th Century, involving a group mice who have sworn to protect other mice using the armor and weapons from medieval times. Petersen has been publishing Mouse Guard through Boom! Studios’ Archaia imprint since early 2006, releasing each issue bi-monthly and collecting the first six issues as Mouse Guard: Winter 1152. That was followed by Spring 1153 and a number of other series and spin-offs. In 2008, the first collection won an Eisner for “Best Graphic Album – Reprint,” as well as “Best Publication for Kids.”
According to the Deadline story, Disney may be pushing its recent acquisition 20th Century Fox away from the PG family-friendly territory (in which Mouse Guard would have been) into more PG-13 and R-Rated territory.
The movie version of Mouse Guard was being produced by Matt Reeves and his 6th & Idaho production company, along with Boom! Studios’ Ross Richie and Stephen Christy, and Ball and his producing partner Joe Hartwick.
The plan now is for the filmmakers to try to set up the project at another studio, including possibly Netflix who got behind Serkis’ Mowgli movie when it was dropped by Warner Bros. In that case, the film had already wrapped and was completed, whereas Mouse Guard hadn’t even begun filming. The question is whether they might lose Idris Elba, who is very busy and constantly in-demand and may have to move onto another project before the filmmakers get the production back on track elsewhere.
Edward Douglas has been writing about movies and other forms of entertainment for over 25 years, so he’s probably older than you.