〉Gluck will write the script as well as produce Sony’s live-action / animation hybrid of the beloved children’s tale
Hollywood multihyphenate Will Gluck has been brought on board to both pen the script for and produce Sony Pictures’s adaptation of PETER RABBIT. Gluck will produce through his Olive Bridge Entertainment, while Eric Fineman will oversee for Sony. Rob Lieber wrote the first draft of the script, based on the classic stories by Beatrix Potter.
A Peter Rabbit feature was first rumored when the project was referenced in emails leaked during the Sony hack, but Gluck’s official involvement has put some spring in the step of this adaptation of the classic children’s storybook. After initially coming on board to produce, we can confirm that Gluck is actively writing the script as well. According to sources, the film will be a live-action / animation hybrid, targeting a family audience in the vein of Alexander and Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
The original Peter Rabbit story centers on mischievous Peter, who disobeys his mother’s orders and sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden, eating as many vegetables as he can before Mr. McGregor spots him and chases him. Peter manages to escape, but not before losing his jacket and shoes, which McGregor then uses to dress a scarecrow. Peter returns home weary and ill and is put to bed with a cup of tea. The followup, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, finds Peter and Benjamin retrieving his clothes from McGregor’s garden–only to be trapped by the farmer’s cat.
The feature, we’re hearing, will combine elements of several Peter Rabbit stories, but that Sony is indeed eyeing a franchise. Friends with Benefits writer Gluck seems to be a solid choice to set the tone for the film. His last directorial effort, the 2014 Annie remake, targeted the same demo, and although it received a lackluster response from audiences, the film’s box office hopes were damaged beyond repair after the entire film was leaked online amid the hacking scandal.
The character first appeared in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, written by Potter in 1902, and subsequently reappeared in five more books between 1904 and 1912. To date, Potter’s Peter Rabbit books, known for their child-friendly stories and gorgeous illustrations, have sold over 150 million copies worldwide, with translations in over 30 languages. That’s music to Sony’s ears, suggesting that there’s a familiarity with the story worldwide, and thus an international market to potentially fuel a feature film franchise.
In 2012, Emma Thompson was commissioned to write the next trilogy of Peter Rabbit tales–The Further Tale, The Spectacular Tale, and The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit. The success of the new trilogy spurned Hollywood’s interest in the age-old story, and although Thompson is not involved in the feature adaptation at this point, her updates to the character and his world will undoubtedly influence the direction of Gluck’s adaptation.
Around the same time the Thompson-authored books were commissioned, Nickelodeon and CBeebies premiered a CGI-animated Peter Rabbit TV series, but there has never been an official big screen adaptation of Peter Rabbit. Now, over a century after its initial publication, it looks like that’s all about to change.
Josh Lyons | Staff Writer