In the wake of Disney cancelling Fox's Mouse Guard movie, Netflix is looking to fill the niche of rodent-inspired genre content. The streamer announced Wednesday morning that it has partnered with Penguin Random House Children’s UK to produce animated film and TV projects based on Brian Jacques' Redwall novels. The series, which first kicked off in 1986, now comprises 22 books and takes place in a Tolkien-esque fantasy universe populated by anthropomorphic animals, like mice.
The feature film, which will be based on the very first novel, is being written by Over the Garden Wall creator, Patrick McHale. If all goes well, Netflix has the ability to kickstart a brand-new franchise that won't be running out of source material anytime soon. The TV adaptation, on the other hand, is said to be focused on the character of Martin the Warrior, "a wise and ferocious mouse who co-founded Redwall Abbey along with Abbess Germaine," writes Deadline.
Per the official release, "the deal marks the first time that the film rights to the entire book series have been held by the same company and the first time a feature film of any of Jacques’ works will be made." The books were previously adapted for an animated show that ran for three seasons between the late 1990s and early 2000s. A stage musical and video game have also been derived from the
Check out some early concept art below:
“We couldn’t be more delighted to announce this deal,” Ben Horslen, Fiction Publisher, Penguin Random House Children, said in a statement. “These perennially popular stories have been etched onto the hearts of millions of readers, and we are thrilled to partner with Netflix to bring those beloved characters on screen for families worldwide to enjoy.”
“Brian often travelled the globe to tell his Redwall stories to young audiences, more often than not at their schools,” added Alan Ingram, representative of The Redwall Abbey Company (owner of Jacques’ intellectual property since the author passed away in 2011), “Brian would have been very happy to see that Netflix shares his joy and desire to bring his stories to life as a new universe of films, series and potentially much more for audiences of all ages to enjoy. We are very excited to embark on this new endeavour with Netflix and Penguin Random House UK.”
As mentioned earlier, Redwall brings to mind David Petersen's Mouse Guard comic, which also uses mice and other small mammals to tell an epic fantasy saga. That book (published by Archaia Studios Press since 2006) was on the verge of receiving a movie adaptation from Maze Runner director Wes Ball before Disney pulled the plug two weeks before production. At the time, Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Samson Kayo, Jack Whitehall, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Sonoya Mizuno were all attached to star in the motion capture-heavy project.