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WIRE Buzz: Mouse Guard demo reel revealed; Dark Crystal prequel adds Thrones star

By Josh Weiss
Mouse Guard demo reel

The sun is shining on another beautiful summer morning, which means we had to deliver another edition of WIRE Buzz for you to read as you sip your first cup of coffee.

For our latest roundup of genre updates, you've got talking/sword-fighting mice, a mind-blowing voice cast for what is basically a high-end puppet show, and the home video release of Avengers: Endgame.

Yesterday, we reported on some gorgeous concept art for 20th Century Fox's Mouse Guard film adaptation that was axed by Disney two weeks before production began. Now, we have another staggeringly beautiful look at the canceled project in the form of an eye-popping demo reel from director Wes Ball (The Maze Runner). 

Running for almost 10 minutes, the amazing reel (below) showcases the character designs for the rodent protagonists, who were going to be voiced and motion-captured by Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, and other well-known Hollywood actors. Moreover, the environmental designs turn the mundanity of nature — something we often take for granted — into a minefield of gigantic perils in a Honey, I Shrunk The Kids sort of way.

"Basically what you're watching is very good looking previz, with environments capable of streaming live to stage during motion capture with our actors," wrote Ball in the reel's caption. "While the visual quality is impressive, it's important to note this is only meant to illustrate how the movie will 'feel' not how it will 'look'. Everything will ultimately be sent to WETA Digital to be recreated with cutting-age photorealistic CG. This was made from scratch in about 12 weeks with a relatively small team. Credit goes to our team at Halon (led by Casey Pyke) and Fox VFX labs (led by Glenn Derry)."

On Twitter, writer Garry Whitta (Rogue One) confirmed that the film is "officially dead" and shared his first draft of the screenplay. David Petersen, upon whose comics the movie was going to be based, responded with a look inside the production offices for Mouse Guard. Sadly, it is more proof (models, artworks, and other finished renderings) of how much progress had been made before the main production was scrapped.

It is heavily theorized that Disney, which purchased Fox's entertainment properties in March, did not want competing blockbusters from other studios. This hypothetical line of reasoning possibly led the Mouse House to pull the plug on Mouse Guard and relegate Fox to smaller budgeted films in the future.

Just when you thought Netflix's Dark Crystal prequel, Age of Resistance, had filled its voice cast to capacity, the streaming company drops even more top tier talent on us. 

This morning, SYFY WIRE learned that Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Sigourney Weaver (Aliens), Benedict Wong (Avengers: Endgame), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp), and Dave Goelz (The Dark Crystal) are also lending their voices to the Jim Henson-inspired series.

“I am so grateful to this dedicated and gifted ensemble who has so beautifully-voiced the characters performed by our puppeteers. Gathering such highly skilled performers was only possible because of their love and respect for Jim Henson’s work and his ongoing legacy,” said director and executive producer Louis Leterrier in a statement.

Dark Crystal Age of Resistance

Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nathalie Emmanuel, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Izzard, Mark Hamill, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Alicia Vikander, Andy Samberg, Harvey Fierstein, Keegan-Michael Key, Jason Isaacs, and more have already been cast.

Age of Resistance premieres on Netflix August 30. The show is also getting its own prequel comic in late September.

Avengers: Endgame will be arriving through one of Doctor Strange's Sling Ring portals and onto digital home video Thursday, July 30. The film hits 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and On-Demand Tuesday, August 13.

The home release of the biggest blockbuster of 2019 will be packed with a ton of bonus goodies, from a commentary track with the Russo Brothers and the screenwriters, to a gag reel, to a slew of deleted scenes. For instance, one of them gives Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) more time with his dad Howard (John Slattery) in 1970.

More info can be found on Marvel's website here.

Endgame is also being rereleased in theaters this weekend with some added content.