On the one hand, maybe not, since members of the generation who had nightmares about bloody rabbit-on-rabbit slaughter thanks to the 1978 adaptation of Richard Adams’ novel will know what to expect. On the other hand, the BBC/Netflix collaboration will be animated in CG, which may make for some uncomfortable uncanny valley viewing. At least John Boyega and James McAvoy will be there to help make this remake (hopefully) a little less disturbing!
The four-part miniseries will air on BBC One in the UK and Netflix in the rest of the world, and is expected to be completed sometime in 2017. It boasts an impressive pedigree, with Tom Bidwell (BAFTA-nominated for the delightful My Mad Fat Diary) writing the screenplay and Pete Dodd (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Frankenweenie) co-directing. McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult will star as (respectively) brother rabbits Hazel and Fiver, leading their fellow rabbits through danger and lurking predators in order to escape the devastation coming to their warren and searching for a promised land. Boyega will play Bigwig, one of the former Owsla (or military) rabbits from the warren, while Ben Kingsley is lending his voice talents as the fearsome General Woundwort. Gemma Arterton rounds out the group as Clover.
Matthew Read, BBC drama commissioning editor, said:
Before there was Harry Potter there was Watership Down, Richard Adams’ novel is one of the most successful books of all time and one of the biggest-selling books in history. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to bring a modern-classic to a mainstream BBC One audience with such an incredible roster of actors alongside the talented team overseeing the animation. This fantastic take on the novel will unite the whole family, and bring this classic story to a new generation.
It remains to be seen whether the new Watership Down will “unite the whole family” in fear, or if parents won’t warn their kids what they’re getting into—the true passing on of a cinematic tradition.