EXCLUSIVE: MGM has acquired the award-winning Robert C. O’Brien children’s book Mrs. Frisby & The Rats Of Nimh and set Ice Age 5 scribe Michael Berg to write the script. Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger will produce through their Bobker/Kruger label. The film will be done as a live-action/CGI hybrid, and Berg is focusing on an origin story in which an imperiled mouse protagonist befriends a comical crew of lab rats as they turn hyper-intelligent. They escape a secret laboratory and become the great minds of vermin civilization, forced to outwit the humans hot on their tails. The hope is to create a franchise.

Michael Berg headshot (052212)O’Brien’s Newbery Medal-winning novel hatched two sequels, and it was previously turned into the Don Bluth-directed animated film The Secret Of Nimh, which MGM released in 1982. A subsequent attempt to relaunch the franchise happened at Paramount. MGM senior veep Cassidy Lange will oversee the project. Berg has been a writer on all five Ice Age films, the latest of which Fox releases July 15, 2016. The book was repped by RWSG and Barney Karpfinger, and Berg is repped by UTA and attorney Joe Dapello.