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Everything We Know So Far About The New ThunderCats Movie

Fresh off Godzilla vs. Kong's pandemic-era box office record, director Adam Wingard has been announced by Warner Bros. as the director of a new film reimagining of the classic animated series ThunderCats.

Deadline reports that the film is being developed by two of Wingard's producers on Death Note, Dan Lin and Roy Lee, with Wingard expected to co-write and direct something he calls "a dream project" due to his being a longtime fan of the franchise and its mythology. The film will be the fourth screen iteration for the ThunderCats franchise, after the original show and short-lived animated series reboots in 2011 and 2020. 

After Godzilla vs. Kong's critical and commercial success — it earned $122 million internationally this weekend, the most for any movie since theaters were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Yahoo! News — Wingard likely had a lot of freedom in choosing his next films. One of the things he picked was ThunderCats, though it may not be the next project he tackles. 

When will the new ThunderCats movie be released?

Included in the announcement of Adam Wingard's involvement is the detail that he and Simon Barrett, who wrote Wingard's films Blair Witch, The Guest, and You're Next, will be rewriting an existing screenplay by David Coggeshall, meaning Wingard's version of the movie isn't exactly ready to go.

Further complicating matters is the fact that he's already been linked to a new sequel to the 1997 John Woo madcap identity-swapping action movie Face/Off. When asked in an interview with Deadline about that project, Wingard said, "I'm going to do the next available thing, quickly. Maybe that's Face/Off 2."

But in that same interview, Deadline asked him whether he'd be interested in directing the follow-up to Godzilla vs. Kong, and Wingard answered in the affirmative. If Warner Bros. was so pleased with Wingard's work on that movie that they're willing to let him try his hand at Thundercats, then he'll probably be able to get first dibs on the Monsterverse follow-up, if that's what he really wants. ThunderCats may be a go, but it might take a while for the pieces to line up to start production.

What will the new ThunderCats movie look like?

The new ThunderCats movie is supposed to be "a hybrid of CGI and animation" What exactly does that mean? Not a lot on its own, except that the film apparently won't be live-action, with actors kitted out in actual cat costumes. Motion-capture work seems possible, though given the recent history of turning famous actors into cats on-screen, Wingard should choose his look carefully.

There are options to select from. Most famous is likely the classic Rankin-Bass look of the original series, which ran from 1985 to 1989, but the franchise didn't stop there. In 2011, Warner Bros. Animation rebooted ThunderCats for Cartoon Network, keeping many of the characters but ditching the '80s-aerobics-video costumes and flowing locks in favor of JRPG stylings of armor and spiky hair. In 2020, another, more lighthearted reboot was launched, this one titled ThunderCats Roar. It used many of the original looks but adapted them to an almost chibi-like art style that drew comparisons with Teen Titans Go!

All of this is to say there is a broader palette for Wingard to draw on than whichever ThunderCats series you personally grew up with. In addition to nailing the art style and the promised blend between two different types of animation, the creative team behind the film will also have to find the right balance between nostalgia and modern sensibilities when it comes to the character designs.

What is the plot of the new ThunderCats movie?

All three ThunderCats series involve the heroes escaping the destruction of their home of Thundera (in some cases a planet, in one a kingdom) and finding themselves forced to survive in the wilds of a planet known as Third Earth. Leader Lion-O, along with Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, and twins Wilykit and Wilykat and the pet/mascot Snarf, battle the evil sorceror Mumm-Ra, his mutants, and other assorted villains of the week using a variety of weapons and vehicles, including Lion-O's magical Sword of Omens.

While the animated series –– almost certainly the 1980s one, given Wingard's age –– will be used as a jumping off point, Wingard admits he's been preparing for this job for decades. "I was writing my ThunderCats screenplay through my entire 10th grade year," he told Deadline, "And I was hand-writing it. The screenplay itself ended up being 272 pages long."

No matter how eager Warner Bros. is for this project, they probably didn't greenlight a 4.5-hour-long ThunderCats movie, so it's safe to say adjustments will have to be made to Wingard's original script (not to mention the fact that Coggeshall's screenplay is involved). But the ideas he put down then have had these additional decades to percolate, and now, it seems, they may have a few years more.