The BBC is making Watership Down as a four-part animated mini-series, and Netflix will be the exclusive distributor of the series outside of the UK. The 4-hour CG-animated series will premiere on BBC One in the UK next year.

Based on Richard Adams’ novel about a colony of rabbits scrapping for their lives, the story has once before received the animation treatment in Martin Rosen’s unconventionally violent 1978 feature, considered classic enough to receive the Criterion treatment. The new series will be written by Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary) and directed by Noam Murro (300: Rise of the Empire).

Dublin, Ireland-based Brown Bag Films (Doc McStuffins, Bing, Peter Rabbit) is creating the CG animation. The animation team is led by Pete Dodd (Fantastic Mr Fox, Frankenweenie), who is co-directing, and Hugo Sands, who is producing. The series is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix and produced by 42 and Noam Murro’s company Biscuit Films.

According to a report published in The Telegraph, this new version will have significantly less violence and a more prominent role for female characters. “The thing about Watership Down is that it’s an epic adventure story,” executive producer Rory Aitken told the paper, explaining why the new series will have less violence. “It’s grown this reputation for being scarring and horrific and brutal, and actually that’s not what the essence of the story is. While we won’t shy away from the darkness in the book, visually it won’t be as brutal and scarring.”

The announced cast includes the following actors: James McAvoy (Filth, X-Men) as Hazel, Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men) as Fiver, Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, Iron Man3) as General Woundwort, John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Attack the Block) as Bigwig, Gemma Arterton (Made in Dagenham) as Clover, Miles Jupp (Rev, The Thick of It) as Blackberry, Freddie Fox (Pride) as Captain Holly, Olivia Colman (The Night Manager, The Lobster) as Strawberry, and Anne-Marie Duff (Suffragette) as Hyzenthlay.

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