Peter Rabbit: First Look at Upcoming Beatrix Potter Adaptation

Beatrix Potter wrote around 30 novels, 24 of which were stories for children focused on talking animals, and she’ll always be best known for her debut: The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The book has been adapted numerous times, primarily into animation, but a new feature film version aims to combine an animated Peter with live-action human actors with the aim of launching a potential franchise.

Now, get your first look at the redesigned Peter, who will be voiced by James Corden in the finished film. Potter’s original stories were typically accompanied by her own elaborate illustrations of the characters and their adventures, which combined semi-realistic renderings of the animal protagonists (culled from the author’s own extensive independent studies of nature and wildlife in rural England) with fanciful details like their distinctive human-like clothing. The new design, first shared to social media by film writer Brendon Connelly, preserves Peter’s blue coat and semi-realistic look; but also shows the rabbit sporting an expression and pose suggesting a more “modern” attitude.

The original story (which exists in a loose continuity with several subsequent Potter stories following the adventures of animals in the same area) followed Peter’s attempts to steal vegetables from the garden of Mr. McGregor against the warnings of his mother. Domhnall Gleeson has been cast as McGregor, while Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley and Elizabeth Debicki are providing unnamed voice roles believed to be members of Peter’s family (which, in the books, include his mother and three sisters named Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail).

The film has been described as a “modernization” of the story centered on the “rivalry” between Peter and Mr. McGregor – suggesting that the two will come into conflict more than once over the course of the film. Potter’s books were often noted for the inclusion of subtly dark elements derived from the animals still being in danger of being killed and/or eaten by humans (and each other) despite wearing clothing and having human-like personalities. It’s unclear whether the film will follow this same tone, and some fans have expressed worry that the stories will be softened into a more comedic “man versus animal” slapstick style.

The adaptation is also confirmed to add a new character played by Rose Byrne named “Bea,” whose role is unknown but is thought to be a younger version of Beatrix Potter herself – perhaps to suggest that she was inspired by these events to write the original book. In reality, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was an adaptation of a story written as part of a correspondence with the young children of the author’s own childhood Governess.

Peter Rabbit hits theaters April 18, 2017.


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