That sentient locomotive Thomas the Tank Engine is back and he’s bringing all his friends. Marc Forster, director of World War Z and Quantum of Solace, is set to direct a new Thomas and Friends movie based on the beloved British children’s television series and children’s books. The new movie will be a blend of live-action and animation. Is this the most exciting news story of 2020? Yes, it is. No question.
The world can be a scary, divisive place. But there’s one thing all human beings from every walk of life can agree on: we must have a new movie about Thomas the Tank Engine, god damn it! Thankfully, Variety says that Mattel and production company 2Dux are teaming for an all-new Thomas and Friends movie, with Marc Forster set to direct.
Mattel Films chief Robbie Brenner said: “Thomas is a beloved global franchise that focuses on the importance of friendship, a theme that resonates deeply with children and parents around the world. Marc is an incredible storyteller and I look forward to partnering with him to tell Thomas’ story in a modern and unexpected way.”
Thomas and Friends traces its origins back to ancient Macedonia, where the high priest of the nation would gather the people to watch ritual sacrifices offered unto the great and terrible god Thomas. Oh, sorry, that’s not even close to correct. Instead, the character sprang forth from The Railway Series, a set of British storybooks written first by Rev. Wilbert Awdry and then by his son, Christopher Awdry. This in turn inspired the TV series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, which premiered in 1984 in the UK and eventually found its way to the US in 1989, where it was part of the series Shining Time Station.
According to my extensive research (translation: looking at Wikipedia), I’ve discovered there are a whopping 578 episodes plus six “Double-length Specials” devoted to Thomas and his friends. There was also a 2000 film Thomas and the Magic Railroad, featuring Alec Baldwin as Mr. Conductor (Ringo Starr and George Carlin have also played the character over the years).
“Thomas has been a personal favorite of mine since childhood,” said director Marc Forster. “I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Robbie and the entire team at Mattel, and embarking on this beautiful journey with such a timeless property.” Forster’s film is being described as “a four-quadrant family adventure that blends live-action and animation.” A “four-quadrant” film is one that’s supposed to appeal to all major movie-going demographics – both male and female, and both over- and under-25s.
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