Fox's Mouse Guard comic book movie has cast Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster to play key roles, ahead of production getting underway later this year. The Mouse Guard comics have been written and illustrated by David Petersen bi-monthly since 2006, and take place in an alternate Medieval world where sentient mice exist. Fox has been working on a live-action/CGI Mouse Guard film since 2016 and attached Wes Ball (The Maze Runner movie trilogy) to direct a couple years ago.
Mouse Guard follows the adventures of the titular (mouse) brotherhood, who spend their days protecting regular mice from the outside world and predators that seek to harm them. Fox and Ball were originally aiming to get production underway in January, but that didn't happen. Now, however, they're targeting a May start date and have started assembling the film's cast.
THR is reporting that Serkis has been cast as Mouse Guard's villain, the blacksmith Midnight. Meanwhile, Brodie-Sangster (who worked with Ball on The Maze Runner movies) will play Lieam, one of the Guard's youngest and least experienced members. THS is also reporting that Giancarlo Esposito - who joined The Maze Runner franchise in the second film, The Scorch Trials - has been cast as Conrad, an older mouse who joins the Mouse Guard as a member of their seaside outpost, Calogero.
Serkis' casting in Mouse Guard is something of a no-brainer, given his long and decorated history as a motion-capture actor. The film will use mo-cap and visual effects by WETA to bring its mouse characters to no doubt stunning photo-realistic life on the big screen. WETA, of course, is the same studio that transformed Serkis into Gollum for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, and created the Na'vi for James Cameron's Avatar. It's been reported that Fox is budgeting Mouse Guard at $150 million, in order to cover the costs of the extensive post-production work needed to realize the movie's animal characters. Clearly, the studio sees this one as the start of a potential franchise and is sparing no expense in making Petersen's fantasy universe a cinematic reality.
There were concerns that Mouse Guard could fall by the wayside ahead of the Disney-Fox purchase, but that's clearly not the case. It makes sense; some might described Mouse Guard as "Game of Thrones with mice", but in reality the property is closer to the sort of fantasy adventure tentpoles that Disney's released under its banner in the past (like the Chronicles of Narnia films). For that reason, the Mouse House and Fox should be comfortable about moving ahead with Mouse Guard as planned. It surely helps that Ball's already shown he can deliver top-notch spectacle and set pieces on a lower-end blockbuster budget with The Maze Runner movies. Assuming that there are no last-minute holdups, the Mouse Guard film may be ready to reach theaters by early 2021, at its current pace.