For those who grew up during the 1980s, Don Bluth’s (The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and All Dogs Go to Heaven) wonderful adaptation of The Secret of NIMH both entertained and terrified. Bluth and his studio put out some amazing animated films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but The Secret of NIMH was probably the best of them all. The film came out in 1982 and the rights have passed to a new studio so it’s time for a new adaptation to entertain an entirely new generation of children. That’s right, The Secret of NIMH is getting a remake and it has found its director.
In his directorial debut, James Madigan (Red 2, Iron Man 2, and Rome) will apply his own unique talents to create the remake, which will be called The Rats of NIMH and will feature both live action and CGI.
Madigan has worked in the industry for years as a Visual Effects Coordinator and Supervisor, but will be given the reigns for this project. Writing the script will be Ice Age alum Michael Berg (Ice Age 1-4) and the film will be produced by Daniel Bobker (The Brothers Grimm, Dream House, and The Skeleton Key) and Ehren Kruger (The Brothers Grimm, The Ring, and Scream 3) with oversight from Jon Glickman and Cassidy Lange out of MGM. While Madigan may be new to directing, he has sat second chair on a number of films and the writer and producers brought on board for this project have a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to fantasy storytelling and animation.
According to Variety, the new film will be an adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien’s 1971 novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and not a direct recreation of the original Don Bluth film. The original film adaptation was mostly faithful to the source material, but it will be interesting to see how a new adaptation shot in live-action and CGI will look. The story centers on the titular Mrs. Frisby, a field mouse who must relocate her family from a farmer’s field before the humans come along and plow the soil. Unfortunately, one of her children is very ill and cannot be moved so she recruits a group of highly-intelligent rats who have escaped from the National Institute of Mental Health to move her home.
Some of the changes Bluth made from the book included the addition of spiritual and magical elements. He felt that an animated film was the best way to feature this sort of effect and weaved it into the story. There were some character deletions and other adjustments to some of the names in the film version. In the film, the main character is called Mrs. Brisby, but is otherwise the same character. There haven’t been many details leaked about the upcoming project, but we will keep you posted on any news that is released.