mouse guard cancelled

Disney has laid the trap for the first major film casualty of its acquisition of Fox. Two weeks before it was set to go into production, Mouse Guard, the feature film adaptation based on David Petersen’s beloved comic series, has been scrapped.

Directed by The Maze Runner‘s Wes Ball, Mouse Guard was set to star Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Sonoya Mizuno, in a motion-capture animated film that would bring to life Petersen’s vivid Eisner Award-winning illustrations. However, it seems those plans have been halted by Fox’s new parent company, Disney.

Deadline broke the news that Disney has cancelled Mouse Guard, in what is likely the first major feature film casualty of the Disney-Fox merger.

Producers Matt Reeves, Ross Ritche, and Stephen Christy are being allowed to shop the project to other studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with several studios expressing interest. One possible new home would be Netflix, which has picked up expensive Andy Serkis motion-capture movies before and seems interested in building an animation brand in direct competition to Disney.

No clear reason was given for the sudden Mouse Guard cancellation, but THR reports that Disney wanted Fox’s output to steer away from projects too similar to their own CGI-heavy fare like The Lion King and The Jungle Book. The outlet also notes that Disney wants Fox films to focus on the adult market since it already has a vice-like grip over the family film market:

Another source said Disney does not want Fox in the big-budget game, which Mouse Guard, with a budget of  $170 million, found itself in. Instead, Disney wants its new studio division to focus on lower cost family movies, as well as PG-13 and R-rated fare. One of the few exceptions to this will be Avatar, the big-budget sci-fi movies series from James Cameron.

It would be a shame to lose the big-screen adaptation of Mouse Guard, which is a comic book series I’ve never read but admire for its artistry and originality. Still running since it first began publishing in 2006, Mouse Guard follows the “adventures of three mice, Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam patrol borders, and strive to make safeways to keep the mouse territories free from predators.” The medieval setting and darker elements would be a refreshing change of pace from Disney’s glut of live-action adaptations of its animated classics, but alas, Disney has final say.

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