The more I see of Mouse Guard, the more impressed I am with the amount of high-quality work that went into the adaptation’s pre-production … and the more pissed off I am that Disney axed it. The collateral damage from the $71.3 billion buyout of Fox, where the Wes Ball-directed film was previously set up, not only scuttles the adaptation of writer-illustrator David Petersen‘s medieval mouse tale, it also cuts the legs out from under the artists, animators, and other below-the-line specialists who were hoping to continue work on it.
On the bright side, Ball has taken to social media to share some of the existing work. And it’s epic. This is a movie that, by all rights, should have made it to the big screen in the next couple of years. Instead, we’ll have to be satisfied with this behind-the-scenes video of concept art, maquettes, preliminary performance-capture shots, costuming, and a demo sizzle reel showing off the “feel” of the film. (A note on the demo reel: If you think it looks like a well-made video game, that’s because it was done in Unreal Engine. Also, the video is just to establish mood, scope, setting, and movement of the characters within their fantasy world, which Weta would have used as inspiration to do the actual animation.)
Check out the bittersweet demo for Mouse Guard below:
The following is a collection of tests that explore the visual potential of a Mouse Guard movie. Everything you see here is rendered in realtime using Epic’s UNREAL ENGINE.
Basically what you’re watching is very good looking previz, with environments capable of streaming live to stage during motion capture with our actors.
While the visual quality is impressive, it’s important to note this is only meant to illustrate how the movie will ‘feel’ not how it will ‘look’. Everything will ultimately be sent to WETA Digital to be recreated with cutting-age photorealistic CG.
This was made from scratch in about 12 weeks with a relatively small team. Credit goes to our team at Halon (led by Casey Pyke) and Fox VFX labs (led by Glenn Derry)
Thanks for watching y’all!
And here’s a brief look behind the scenes of Mouse Guard as part of Ball’s own Twitter thread, as well as his own commentary on the project:
Yes sadly, its true. Our #mouseguard movie is dead.
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
— Wes Ball (@wesball) June 26, 2019
For more on Mouse Guard, be sure to get caught up with these recent write-ups:
- ‘Mouse Guard’ Movie Concept Art Teases the Vision for Disney/Fox’s Canceled Project
- Disney Cancels Fox’s ‘Mouse Guard’ Movie Just Days Before Production Starts
- ‘Mouse Guard’: Andy Serkis & Thomas Brodie-Sangster to Lead the Mocapped Cast
- Wes Ball Discusses His ‘Mouse Guard’ Adaptation, Says It Will Probably Be His Next Movie
- ‘Mouse Guard’ Film Adaptation in the Works from Matt Reeves and Gary Whitta