In 1972, author Robert C. O’Brian released a science-fiction book for children called Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. It told the story of a widowed mouse whose son grows too ill to move, just days before the farmer whose field they live in is scheduled to plow over their home. She enlists the aid of a group of super intelligent rats, who escaped a laboratory where they were experimented on. Together the rodents save each other from various human and feline dangers.
In 1982, an animated movie was released based on the novel, renamed The Secret of NIMH. It followed the book fairly closely, though with a few major changes. The mouse’s last name was changed to Mrs. Brisby, the rat Nicodemus was aged and made leader, and a rat named Jenner was made into a villain. The biggest change was the inclusion of a magical amulet, adding a level of fantasy to the story. Now there is going to be a remake of The Rats of NIMH, one that combines live action with animation.
According to Variety, James Madigan is going to make his directorial debut on the film. Madigan has mostly worked in visual effects before now. Some of his credits include Iron Man 2, Insurgent, and The Da Vinci Code, as well as a number of episodes on HBO’s Rome, for which he won an Emmy. He’s been a second unit director several times as well, most recently on Insurgent, Allegiant, and the upcoming Jason Statham film Meg.
The book, which featured illustrations by Zena Bernstein, was awarded the Newbery medal, one of the highest awards given to children’s literature, in 1972. Meanwhile, the ’80s movie featured the vocal talents of classic film star John Carradine (Stagecoach, The Ten Commandments), noted comedian Dom DeLuise (Blazing Saddles) and child stars of the time Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Shannon Doherty (Beverly Hills 90210, Charmed).
It’s still too early to know much about the remake itself. There has not been any cast announcements nor any indication of how much will be live action versus animation. According to earlier reports, the script – which is being written by Michael Berg (Ice Age: Collision Course) – will follow the book more closely than the original film. The book involves more humans than the original cartoon, since they serve as the story’s antagonists, so it might make sense for the novel to be the main source material rather than the earlier film.
Keep checking in with Screen Rant for updates about The Rats of NIMH.