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For all the glee that came with the X-Men and the Fantastic Four now being freed up to come to the MCU, Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox carries some major downsides. People will and have lost their jobs as a result of it and projects in development at Fox face the potential axe under Mickey’s regime. Now Disney has dropped its first project after the merger, the big budget adaptation Mouse Guard.
The high-profile film from The Maze Runner director Wes Ball was a mere two weeks out from the production start date when Disney decided to suddenly halt the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Yet, although Mouse Guard is the first casualty to come post-merger, it isn’t necessarily dead; it just won’t be releasing under the Disney or Fox banner. Mouse Guard may yet see the light of day because the producers of the film are being allowed to shop it around to other studios.
Mouse Guard is a four-quadrant blockbuster with franchise potential that is ready to start filming, so there is already interest from other studios. One of the film’s producers, Planet of the Apes series and future Batman helmer Matt Reeves, has an existing production deal at Netflix, so Mouse Guard could land there. Another possibility is Paramount, where Maze Runner producer Wyck Godfrey is the head of the motion picture group.
Mouse Guard is based on the comic series of the same name written and illustrated by David Petersen. It tells the story of a world free of humans where anthropomorphic mice live in a harsh medieval world where the brotherhood of the Mouse Guard is sworn to help keep their fellow mice safe. Given the medieval setting, Mouse Guard has naturally earned the elevator pitch 'Game of Thrones with mice.'
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and After Earth scribe Gary Whitta handled the adaptation for the film that is set to star Idris Elba, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Samson Kayo and Andy Serkis. With an acclaimed source material (and presumably a built-in audience), big name actors already attached and production so close to beginning, Disney pulling the plug seems strange. So why did Mickey drop Mouse Guard? What’s the cause of this mouse on mouse violence?
While it is not clear exactly why Disney gave the medieval mice the axe, one of THR’s sources indicated that it has to do with the fact that Mouse Guard was set to use motion capture and digital effects, provided by WETA, to bring the creatures of the film’s world to life. The concern was that this was a bit too similar to what Disney is already doing with “live-action” remakes like The Jungle Book and The Lion King.
Personally, I would find that to be an odd line of thinking considering both of those aforementioned titles have been or will be major box office hits (Lion King isn’t out yet, but come on). And Mouse Guard would be completely different than either of those two. Maybe Disney has a live-action remake of The Rescuers in the works we don’t know about.
Another possible reason for the red light is that Disney wants its newly acquired Fox arm to stay out of the blockbuster realm and instead focus on low-cost family films as well as PG-13 and R-rated movies, with the exception of James Cameron’s Avatar series. At a budget of $170 million, Mouse Guard definitely doesn’t qualify as low-budget.
Hopefully Mouse Guard finds another home because it has a lot going for it and it sounds like it has the potential to be something new and different in the blockbuster landscape.
We’ll keep you updated on Mouse Guard and the continuing fallout from the Disney-Fox merger. In the meantime check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see all the biggest movies headed to theaters this year.