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Thomas The Tank Engine's movie is finally gaining some steam. The character first shot to fame right after World War II thanks to a litany of books written by W.V. Audry entitled The Railway Series, but it wasn't until a 1984 children's television show premiered that the franchise really started dominating merchandise sales in the preschool market. For the last decade, it's been the most successful four to five year old brand in the United States and the United Kingdom, but with this new film, rights holders HIT Entertainment are hoping to skew the concept slightly older.
That doesn't mean you should expect to see boobs or hear f-bombs, but the company is already planning a line of toys to be found in the vehicle aisle rather than the preschool aisle. Perhaps that's why they've hired Shane Acker to direct. He previously helmed the Tim Burton-produced 9, but with a little kid at home, he's excited about preparing some material a younger audience could appreciate. According to Deadline, he'll work from a completed script written by Josh Klausner, Chris Viscardi and Will McRobb.
The live action film will follow a young boy who copes with the withdrawal of his father by retreating into the same magical world of talking trains his dad once visited as a child. The financing will all be done in house by HIT Entertainment, leaving the company to market and highlight the character as they see fit.
Prior to Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends' television debut, Ringo Starr was approached to do voice work. He initially declined saying children were only interested in “dinosaurs with lasers”. Hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of the last few decades have said otherwise.