First, animated ants were everywhere. Suddenly it seems that filmmakers can't get enough of animated mice and rats.
Universal has lined up an all-star cast to led their pipes to "The Tale of Despereaux," an adaptation of the Newberry Medal-winning children's book by Kate DiCamillo ("Because of Winn-Dixie").
"The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread" tells the story of a little mouse named Despereaux Tilling, who falls in love with the very human Princess Pea and is banished to a dungeon of rats.
Justin Long ("Accepted") will voice the title character. Also doing time in the soundbooth are Robbie Coltrane ("Cracker"), Ciaran Hinds ("Miami Vice"), Dustin Hoffman ("Rainman"), Kevin Kline ("A Fish Called Wanda"), Christopher Lloyd ("Stacked"), William H. Macy ("Fargo"), Stanley Tucci ("Big Night"), Tracey Ullman and Sigourney Weaver ("Alien").
The project will be directed by Mike Johnson, who earned an Oscar nomination earlier this year for his collaboration with Tim Burton on "The Corpse Bride." Multiple Oscar nominee Gary Ross ("Seabiscuit") will write the script for a film Universal hopes to have in theaters by the 2008 holiday season.
"We are thrilled to be making our first animated feature for Universal, which has energetically renewed its commitment to animation," says producer Allison Thomas ("Seabiscuit"). "We have assembled a spectacular voice cast that will bring to life the unforgettable characters and help convey the excitement, adventure and fun of this perfect gem of a book."
It should be noted that this latest run of animated mice and rats -- which includes the Aardman entry "Flushed Away" and next summer's Pixar comedy "Ratatouille" -- is hardly the medium's first rodent infestation. The late '70s and early '80s saw classics like "The Rescuers" and "The Secret of NIMH" hit theaters.
Mice Are Nice For 'Despereaux' Voices
Long, Hoffman and Weaver lead the cast of the Universal comedy
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