Ever since Lord Of The Rings, WETA has been the go-to company for people wanting to create convincing characters using prosthetics, animatronics or CG, or a mix of the three. Now Peter Jackson’s effects company has been tapped to work on a new live-action version of Wind In The Willows, which Ray Griggs will direct, based on a script by Bill Marsilii (Deja Vu).
While Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale of four talking animals has been brought to the screen numerous times, the new version seems to have a bit of a Fantastic Mr. Fox vibe about it, with Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad joining forces to save their land from what Variety describes as a ‘sinister plot that threatens to destroy the uneasy truce between the peaceful animals of the Willows and mankind.’ The story starts with mole venturing out of his underground home for the first time and discovering new friendships.
The independently funded, $30 million movie has yet to announce its cast, although that’s expected to come soon. The plan is to record the dialogue first, then get the actors in state-of-the-art animatronic suits, designed by WETA, which will create the facial expressions.
While a WETA created Willows world sounds wonderful, the tone of the plot is a bit wierd, and suggests something darker than what you’d expect (although to be honest, what Toad does in the book is actually more disturbing and dangerous than the way it’s normally presented). We could have something truly unusual on our hands, especially as it’s from the director of the peculiar superhero movie Super Capers, who’s also recently made a documentary comparing the actions of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, commenting on the role government should have in people’s lives.
The film will shoot in the autumn in New Zealand.