The Disney/Fox merger doesn’t come without casualties. Mouse Guard is one of them.
Mouse Guard is a bi-monthly comic that is written and beautifully illustrated by David Petersen.
As the title of the original six comic run suggests, Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, the story is set during medieval times where no humans exist. Instead, the characters in this story are sentient mice. They live in villages and towns much as we do.
Mouse Guard of the title is a brotherhood of mice who have sworn an oath to protect their fellow civilian mice in times of need, including making safe passage for them through the wilderness and protecting them from predators.
The series has been very successful with Mouse Guard being turned into figurines and plush toys. A successful Kickstarter campaign produced a tabletop RPG, Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds.
In July of 2016, Twentieth Century Fox confirmed that a movie was in development. Matt Reeves, the director of both Dawn and War of the Planet of the Apes was set to produce with a script by Gary Whitta.
Wes Ball, director of the Maze Runner film franchise was confirmed as the director of Mouse Guard.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Andy Serkis joined the film in March of 2019 with Idris Elba in talks. This was also the time when Disney bought Twentieth Century Fox.
Then in April, Disney shut down production of Mouse Guard just two weeks before it was about to begin. The team were allowed to shop the project around to see if other studios were interested in the property.
Unfortunately, it seems the search was fruitless as Wes broke the news via Twitter on the 26th of June that the film was completely cancelled.
Yes sadly, its true. Our #mouseguard movie is dead.
Seems it’s too big a risk. It’s a damn shame really. We had something special. To my hella talented cast/crew: I’m sorry I couldn’t push this one through. The past year with you all has been a blast. May the Guard prevail! pic.twitter.com/MGRq54uI6O
— Wes Ball (@wesball) June 26, 2019
As you can see from the above tweet, Wes attached a two-minute video showcasing the Mouse Guard offices full of beautiful concept art, character and location models.
Wes also posted a sizzle reel to YouTube. This video uses the Unreal engine which is generating these images in real time. The idea of this pre-visualisation video is to give a sense of how the final film will look.
Had the film been completed, the final photorealistic CG animation would’ve been created by the New Zealand special effects team at WETA Digital.
Wes and composer John Paesano had even started working on some musical ideas for Mouse Guard and he decided to share that with us.
For fellow soundtrack addicts…Composer @johnpaesano and I got started really early. While @tsnowlin and I were working on a script, John was coming up with some great themes. Here is one of his mockups (meaning no orchestra yet) https://t.co/hfihsWICVb art by Robby Johnson pic.twitter.com/uEg2ubfho0
— Wes Ball (@wesball) June 27, 2019
Sharing this magnitude of information about a cancelled film is very rare, and it just keeps on coming. Writer Gary Whitta decided to share the original first draft of his script via his Dropbox account.
In that spirit, I’m posting my complete MOUSE GUARD screenplay so even if people can’t see the movie they can at least see what I wrote. There were other writers who came after me but this is my original first draft. Please enjoy. The Guard prevails! (2/2) https://t.co/XaO12v9lAj
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) June 26, 2019
Finally, Mouse Guard creator, David Petersen took to twitch for a couple of hours to talk about the images and videos that have been released and the cancelled project in general.
To be honest, I’m speechless. This looks like it could have been a beautifully animated film and as I have just started to read the original comics, I feel we’re really missing out here.
From what I hear, Disney didn’t want to take a gamble on this project as the budget was allegedly in the $170 million range.
As film fans, we don’t want exciting new projects! I’m so glad Disney is just churning out remakes of their entire back catalogue of animated features as live-action films! </sarcasm>