Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has been set to write the screenplay for The Wind in the Willows, a feature adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic English tale. Ray Griggs is aboard to to direct the project, which will be shot at Peter Jackson’s Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand.
Jackson’s WETA Digital is handling the CGI to bring Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger to life, with Skywalker Sound designing all sound effects and ambient noise. Production is set to begin this year; casting is underway.
Fellowes wrote the book for a Wind in the Willows musical with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe — the trio had collaborated on the long-running Mary Poppins musical on Broadway. Their Wind in the Willows bowed in 2016 and eventually played on London’s West End.
Gerald R. Molen, who won the Oscar in 1994 for producing Schindler’s List, is producing the film version of Wind in the Willows, with Molen’s Kindred Images co-producing with Bill Melendez Productions in London. Design and artwork is already underway spearheaded by Richard Taylor as Design & Creature Effects Supervisor.
“We have all the right pieces to create what will prove to be the definitive adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic,” Molen said.
At TCA last month, Fellowes said he will start working on a sequel to last year’s Downton Abbey movie once he’s finished scripting the HBO drama The Gilded Age, which is in pre-production to shoot later this year.
He’s repped by UTA.