Director Wes Ball releases demo footage from his now-cancelled Mouse Guard movie. A few years ago, Fox began developing a fully CGI film adaptation of the Mouse Guard comic book with Gary Whitta attached to write the script. The property is set in a medieval world with talking mice that are protected from threats by highly skilled warriors, the Mouse Guard.
It wasn't too long before it started to pick up steam and found Wes Ball, the director of all three Maze Runner movies, attached at the helm. From that point on, Mouse Guard kept making progress and even started to announce cast members at the beginning of this year. Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster joined in key roles before Idris Elba and more signed on. Each of them would do motion and performance capture for the movie to bring their mouse characters to life. But, shortly before filming was going to begin, Mouse Guard was cancelled as a result of Disney's acquisition of Fox and the high-budget required.
After Disney severed ties with Mouse Guard, Ball and the film's producers began shopping it around Hollywood to see if any other studios would pick up the movie. Despite some reported interest, it will not happen. Ball took to Twitter recently to confirm that Mouse Guard is officially dead. He shared a walkthrough of their pre-production house filled with concept art and models, but then shared a nine-minute demo reel on his YouTube. Check them both out below:
Yes sadly, its true. Our #mouseguard movie is dead.— Wes Ball (@wesball) June 26, 2019
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
Mouse Guard may have been a potential risk financially with a pricey budget and lack of general awareness of the IP, but these details show just how imaginative and ambitious Ball's vision was for the property. It is rare to get such a detailed look at plans like this, especially when it all looks impressive. The demo footage specifically is quite incredible even without proper CGI, but with a glimpse of the detailed character designs included in Ball's walkthrough, the visuals at the end of the day could be the biggest selling point for a lesser known property. In addition to these videos though, concept artist Darek Zabrocki shared several pieces of art commissioned for the film on Instagram that further highlight the feel of the Mouse Guard world.
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Weekly Tip #8: FUNCTIONALITY AND BELIEVABILITY I went through a lot of important factors you have to take into consideration while creating successful concept artworks. Now it's time to take a look a little bit deeper, into something that elevates your concept to the next level and makes your artwork something more than just art. In the production pipeline, while working on new environment designs and new worlds it's not only about artistic brush strokes or beautiful colors/light. People tend to rely on it way too much (I used to do the same hehe) While I worked on the piece similar to the attached one I always plan ahead all the elements the location possibly could consist of. It was actually set extension to real life place so how do I make it fitting and functional to this specific project was all the design work behind that. What sort of props, functional elements(peer, lifting machines, bay for the boats, tree houses, watch towers, ladders etc) I could place and how to logically put them for the best believably depicted location. To support artistic and beautiful execution with something that actually matters to make the world iconic? What helps me the most is usually closing my eyes and imagining that place. If I were there. I immerse myself by doing that and it immediately brings more and more ideas to.make the design more interesting. The more I think, the more research I do, the more I am able to create a fully functional and believable environment design. I made loads (hundreds) of concepts for Mouse Guard film (sadly cancelled) directed by amazing dude Wes Ball. Based on epic comic book (@mouseguard) and it's one of the examples showing what I'm talking about here. Also that in depth and more knowledge I will share during my online course later this year (more info soon). This I also teach at our @focalpointschool Find these tips helpful? Please share it with your art friends! #art #artoftheday #artistoninstagram #2d #conceptart #conceptartist #cathedral #design #tutorial #artist #darekzabrocki #illustration #fantasyart #focalpointschool #painting #photoshop #scifiart #scifi #sciencefictionart #starwars #scifimovie #fox #mouseguard #wacom
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Mouse witcher 🐭⚔ One of the very first concepts I did for MOUSE GUARD film. This project took us in total +12 months of constant concept phase overlapping with already in-progress world building. Around half of the time we spent on just pre-production and brainstorming with different concept ideas. At the beginning there was just me, @kenbarthelmey and Wes Ball the director of the movie. We had so much fun since the project was so free to interpreting that let us go crazy with world and look of it. Later the team grew tremendously and the whole production took a route that brought in a new level of animation, cgi and interaction between concept team and actual animators from Weta. Which was quite new to me since intensity and live interaction was obviously visible day by day. Honestly being on this project from the very beginning made me aware and pumped onto how important and inspiring is to create a new Vast world. For me it was the biggest, most elaborate and in depth full of freedom project I ever took part in. Sadly cancelled but hey whatever was done was golden and its gonna resonate through my works in upcoming weeks, months or even years? 💥😎🤩🤩🤩 in total I was responsible for the world building, props and a lot of action scenes. Cant wait to just spit it all out here! Stay tuned for more 😍 #art #artist #conceptartist #conceptart #design #mouseguard #art #artoftheday #artistoninstagram #2d #conceptart #conceptartist #cathedral #design #digitalart #artist #darekzabrocki #illustration #fantasyart #focalpointschool #painting #photoshop #scifiart #scifi #sciencefictionart #starwars #scifimovie #fox #movie #wacom
From a business perspective, it is difficult to fault Disney for moving on from a $150-$170 million budget, all CGI, high-fantasy movie, but Ball's approach here does look unique. Now that the demo reel, walkthrough, and lots of concept art are online though, there is more buzz around the property than ever before. It may not be getting the same reaction as the "leaked" Deadpool footage that convinced Fox to greenlight the movie, but the response to what Ball and his team were creating is generally positive. Who knows, maybe all of this can reignite interest from another studio and get Mouse Guard moving again soon.
Sources: Various (See above)