Disney has dropped Fox's Mouse Guard movie, shortly before the film was slated to begin production. Now the the Mouse House has finalized its purchase of Fox's assets (for the enormous sum of $71.3 billion), the studio is making some big changes. They're already dismantled the Fox 2000 banner, which produced hits like Love, Simon and Hidden Figures, and are planning to reboot the X-Men franchise for the MCU after Dark Phoenix hits theaters in June. There are also a number of Fox projects in development at the moment that Disney's expected to outright cancel, despite all the time and effort that's already been poured into them.
Among the films that Fox's been working on is Mouse Guard, a big-budget adaptation of David Petersen's comic book series about a medieval fantasy world where talking mice exist, and are protected from predators by a highly-trained group of warrior mice known as (what else?) the Mouse Guard. The movie was actually scheduled to being shooting in a couple weeks, with Wes Ball (The Maze Runner trilogy) directing a cast that includes Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Andy Serkis, and Idris Elba, among other actors. Now, however, the project's been put on indefinite hold.
According to THR, Disney has halted production on Mouse Guard and no longer plans to make the movie at all. That being said, the outlet's sources have learned that the film's producers are being allowed to shop the project around to other studios (including, some major Hollywood ones that've already expressed their interest). It's believed that Netflix is also in play to pick up Mouse Guard now, seeing as producer Matt Reeves has a first-look deal with the streaming giant.
As to the why behind Disney's decision, well, there a couple of possible explanations. For starters, one of THR's sources is reporting that Disney felt Mouse Guard - which, if it happens, will feature photorealistic CGI mice brought to life through motion capture performances - hewed a little too close to its recent live-action remakes like The Jungle Book and this summer's The Lion King. Another source is claiming that Disney wants Fox to start focusing on making mid-budget films instead of tentpoles like Mouse Guard (which is budgeted at around $150-170 million). Of course, there will be exceptions to that rule, like James Cameron's upcoming Avatar sequels and, by the sound of it, Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman prequel, The Great Game.
All things considered, though, Mouse Guard may not have too much trouble finding a new home. It's an expensive project, for sure, but also one with the potential to jump-start a new franchise. More than that, it should have pretty broad appeal, between its PG-13 tone, fantasy adventure premise, and a voice cast anchored by big names like Elba and Serkis. The latter's Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle was previously acquired by Netflix and he's currently working on an Animal Farm adaptation for them, so that's all the more reason to suspect that Mouse Guard could ultimately end up going there. After all, Netflix is said to be hunting for some big-budget properties to call its own, and Mouse Guard definitely fits the bill.
We'll bring you more Mouse Guard-related updates as they become available.