Robert C. O’Brien’s award-winning children’s novel Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of Nimh, which previously birthed two animated adaptations, has found new life at MGM, which just acquired rights and set Ice Age 5 scribe Michael Berg to write the screenplay.
This new take on the property, to be rendered as a live-action/CGI hybrid, will be an origin story centering a trapped lab rat who befriends a comical crew of lab rats as human experimentation turns them hyper-intelligent. If they can escape the lab and outwit their human pursuers, these vermin will become the great minds of their species..
O’Brien’s Newbery Award-winning, original novel had two sequels penned by his daughter Jane Leslie Conly, titled Rasco and the Rats of Nimh and R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of Nimh, so the groundwork for a series has already been laid. It’s assumed that MGM will take a different approach than the animated franchise, which followed up Don Bluth’s Saturn Award-winning original with largely panned sequel The Secret of Nimh 2: Timmy to the Rescue, but if MGM’s films diverge from the book series to tell their own narrative, there’s no telling where Berg could take the story.
The studio certainly has reason to believe in the scribe – he’s been kicking around animation for years, with credits on all five Ice Age films, the latest of which Fox is releasing July 15th next year. It should be interesting to see how he approaches Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of Nimh, given that the initial logline of a “comical crew of lab rats” suggests silly humor, a far cry from the animated film’s enthralling darkness, and that this new take will lack the detailed classical animation of the original, instead opting for a more popular blend of live-action and CGI.