Remember when there were reports that Disney had scrapped Fox’s planned adaptation of Mouse Guard, but there was still hope it could find a home somewhere else? Those hopes are now gone. But with the project’s death, we also have a chance to see what could’ve been.
Director Wes Ball confirmed the news last night with a short video that showed off early concept art and sculpts, as well as some early motion-capture footage, of his planned adaptation of the Eisner-winning comic series from David Petersen.
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
While seeing all the work that had already gone into the movie knowing it’s truly done stings, Ball also celebrated that tremendous effort. He revealed almost 10 minutes of early test footage developed by Halon and Fox VFX as part of the pitch for the film, in the Unreal Engine - and now likely the only glimpse we’ll ever see of what could’ve been.
This 'raw' stage is essentially just a fancier pre-visualisation cinematic, almost like a video game cutscene, before the FX team at WETA would’ve actually crafted the final look of the film. But even then, it captures the whimsical feel of the original series delightfully.
Screenwriter Gary Whitta also lamented the project’s death, and lifted the lid on production even further by posting the entire screenplay for the film online for all to read:
In that spirit, I’m posting my complete MOUSE GUARD screenplay so even if people can’t see the movie they can at least see what I wrote. There were other writers who came after me but this is my original first draft. Please enjoy. The Guard prevails! (2/2) https://t.co/XaO12v9lAj
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) June 26, 2019
This is an honestly unprecedented level of insight into a project that has only just been killed, frankly. But at least we have all these materials to marvel at, even if we can’t get this vision for the Mouse Guard world itself to come to the big screen.