Nearly two years after first being set up at MGM, the long-awaited adaptation Rats of Nimh finally has a director. James Madigan, a visual effects specialist who has worked on Iron Man 2, The Da Vinci Code and HBO's Rome, just to name a few, has come aboard to direct Rats of Nimh. This adaptation will mark the feature film directorial debut for James Madigan, after spending the past 16 years working in various areas of visual effects. He recently transitioned to second unit director, and worked on the giant shark thriller Meg.
When MGM first picked up the rights to this adaptation in March 2015, we reported that the movie will be an origin story about an "imperiled mouse protagonist" who befriends a group of lab rats as they become "hyper-intelligent." The story will follow these rats as they escape a secret laboratory and become great minds in their civilization, as they try to outwit the humans who have been chasing them. Variety's report reveals this story centers on a group of rescued lab rats who are recruited to save a rodent family.
Robert C. O'Brien's original novel Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of Nimh was first published in 1971 and won the Newberry Medal a year later. It was previously adapted into The Secret of NIMH, a 1982 animated feature which featured a voice cast that included Derek Jacobi, Dom DeLuise, Shannen Doherty and Wil Wheaton. The animated adaptation spawned the 1998 sequel The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue. MGM hopes to start a franchise with this new live action/CGI hybrid adaptation, following Paramount's previous attempts to re-launch this franchise, to no avail.
Michael Berg, who has had a hand in writing all of the Ice Age movies, is writing the script, with Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger producing The Rats of Nimh through their Bobker/Kruger production company. Ehren Kruger is best known for writing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Transformers: Age of Extinction, along with the 2002 horror-thriller The Ring. Daniel Bobker produced The Skeleton Key and The Brothers Grimm, both of which were written by Ehren Kruger, before they started their own production company, where they're working on a Brothers Grimm TV series and Ophelia, starring Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts.
Now that a director is in place, hopefully we'll be hearing more about casting for Rats of NIMH, although no production schedule or release date has been given. James Madigan started his career as a digital compositor on Earth 2 way back in 1994. He also worked on Waterworld and Crimson Tide.