Netflix has earned global rights to BBC One’s modern spin on Richard Adam’s classic tale, Watership Down.
The feature-length animated movie about the allegorical bunny adventure was first released back in 1978 and based on the novel 1972 novel. BBC’s latest take sees the story adapted as an animated miniseries that will feature the voice talents of Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy, Freddie Fox, Anne-Marie Duff, Miles Jupp and Olivia Colman.
The story is set in the rural landscape of southern England, where a group of rabbits must flee from the intrusion of humans and the impending destruction of their homes. With a pair of bunny brothers taking the lead, the group ventures from their native land to an ideal society. Along the way, they face predators and adversaries that test their courage and will.
In a statement from the BBC, the network’s drama commissioning editor Matthew Read championed their retelling of the beloved story, sharing the BBC excitement in bringing new life to the story that has sold more than 50 million copies since it was first published.
“Richard Adams’ novel is one of the most successful books of all time and one of the biggest selling books in history,” Read said. “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to bring a modern classic to a mainstream BBC One audience with such an incredible roster of actors alongside the talented team overseeing the animation.”
The four-part CGI miniseries is slated to air in 2017 and will see Kingsley, Boyega, McAvoy and Hoult voicing the stories central characters, led by McAvoy’s Hazel and Hoult’s Fiver. The project is being produced by U.K. production and management company 42, in addition to Noam Murro’s Biscuit Films. Murro (300: Rise of an Empire) will direct, while BAFTA-nominated Tom Bidwell will pen the script.
Co-director Pete Dodd (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Frankenweenie) is leading the series’ CGI animation team, along with producer Hugo Sands and animation studio Brown Bag Films.
According to partner and exec producer for 42, Rory Aitken, the decision to develop the story as a miniseries instead of another feature-length film allowed them to “explore the characters from the novel and their adventure in a way not previously achievable on screen.”