'Wind In The Willows' Movie Back In The Works With 'Downton Abbey' Creator Hopping On Board

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It's been about 10 years since we first heard about a film adaptation of The Wind in the Willows coming together with the help of Peter Jackson's WETA Workshop. At the time, the plan was for WETA's Ray Griggs to direct a live-action movie using advanced animatronics to bring the four anthropomorphic animal characters, Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger, to life. However, a decade later, the plans have changed and a new filmmaker is on board to help

Peter Jackson's WETA Digital is now involved with The Wind in the Willows movie, which will now create Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger with computer animation. Ray Griggs is still directing and offering special effects experience on WETA's behalf along with Richard Taylor at WETA Workshop. But now Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes is on board to write the movie, and Jurassic Park producer Gerald R. Molen is getting involved too.

Variety has news on the return of The Wind in the Willows movie, with Julian Fellowes joining the project. This comes four years after the Downtown Abbey writer and executive producer wrote a musical version of Kenneth Grahame's classic novel with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. It's not clear if Fellowes will be bringing those musical sensibilities to this adaptation, or if it's just his approach to the characters that's being utilized, but his involvement is an exciting addition.

For those unfamiliar, here's how the book is described on Amazon:

"Since 1903, the escapades of Mole, his friend Water Rat, shy Badger, and Toad of Toad Hall have delighted children, and adults, too. Follow the winning foursome through the seasons as they sail the river, get lost in the Wild Wood, take off on a merry adventure in Toad's colorful carriage, and rescue Toad Hall from a band of nasty marauding weasels."

If you haven't read the book, then maybe you've seen the Disney adaptation from 1949, which was part of a double feature of two short stories called The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The movie also inspired the Disneyland attraction known as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. But this new adaptation will likely be a little more true to the novel.

After being in development for so many years, it sounds like now is the time for the project to finally get off the ground. Molen said:

"We are finalizing some of the finest actors to lend their creative and vocal talents. We could not have dreamed of a better writer and creative force than Julian Fellowes to work with Ray Griggs to bring to life the classic English novel's characters, nor finer visionaries than Weta to capture the look and feel of Grahame's world. We have all the right pieces to create what will prove to be the definitive adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic."

Molen's production banner, Kindred Images, will be working with Bill Melendez Productions, the label behind The Peanuts Movie and other Charlie Brown and Snoopy projects, as co-producers. Production is slated to take place at Stone Street Studios down in New Zealand, and Skywalker Sound will take care of all the sound effects and ambient noise. Combined with the incredible work of WETA, this should be something special. Now we just have to see who will lend their voices to Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger.