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Disney pulls the plug on Fox's Mouse Guard two weeks before production
After weeks of numerous high profile casting developments, THR writes that the motion capture film has been axed by Disney, which recently acquired 20th Century Fox's entertainment properties in one of the biggest and most expensive business mergers in history.
The film, which was to be produced by The Batman's Matt Reeves and directed by The Maze Runner's Wes Ball, was only two weeks away from kicking off principal photography with an A-list collection of actors. Before its cancelation, Mouse Guard had attracted Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Samson Kayo, Jack Whitehall, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Sonoya Mizuno.
Reasons for why Mouse Guard (based on the BOOM! Studios comic series of the same name) was shut down are unclear, but there are a few logical hypotheses.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, some sources state that Disney believed a movie that required animals to be brought to life via motion capture/CGI was too similar to its own projects like Jon Favreau's Lion King remake, which opens this July.
Another logical explanation is that the House of Mouse does not want to devote larger budgets to Fox films any longer, subtly nudging them out of the high-end blockbuster game; Mouse Guard reportedly had a production budget of around $170 million. Aside from James Cameron's Avatar, the newly-purchased studio will allegedly be focusing on smaller, family-friendly creations as well as PG-13 and R-rated offerings (e.g. Deadpool).
Described as "Game of Thrones but with mice," Mouse Guard was created by David Petersen and is the recipient of two Eisner Awards. Now that the film adaptation is in the wind, another rival studio might be interested in attracting it with a piece of cheese and snapping it up.
Though the project is dead at Fox, the creative team is reportedly being allowed to shop the film around to other studios. Potential targets mentioned include Netflix and Paramount — and there's apparently interest out there to get it off the ground. So, don't give up on the 'Guard just yet.