Director Shane Acker (9) has been tapped to direct a live-action film based on the long-running preschool toy Thomas the Tank Engine. The film will be set in Sodor, the island of talking trains. Thomas, created 65 years ago, has been the top preschool toy in the UK for eleven years and in the US for ten years. Acker tells Deadline that the story “will revolve around a child slightly older than preschool, who has drifted apart from his father. The son is introduced into this world of Sodor, a place his father visited as a child but can’t remember. There is a bonding experience.” Josh Klausner (Shrek the Third) and Chris Viscardi & Will McRobb wrote the script. Hit the jump for my thoughts on the project.
At first, Acker seems like an odd choice for a movie based on a property designed for preschoolers. Not only is Acker’s background in animation (although I’m sure the movie will have animated elements), but 9 was the rare PG-13 animated film and had rag dolls getting their souls sucked out in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. However, when you think about, he’s perfect for the film because Thomas the Tank Engine is fucking terrifying. It’s a train engine with a face. Think about that. But if this movie goes forward, they have to get Ringo Starr involved some how. For those who don’t know, he played Mr. Conductor in the first season of the 1990s TV series Shining Time Station, which included episodes Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.