Disney Developing Sled Dog Movie ‘Togo and Seppala’

Disney Developing Sled Dog Movie 'Togo
Courtesy of Disney

Disney is developing a live-action movie about two of the key figures in the 1925 Nome Serum Run — sled dog Togo and sled driver Leonhard Seppala.

The studio has hired Tom Flynn to write the script. Nome became famous in 1925 as the destination of the serum run, also known as the Great Race of Mercy, in which dog sleds played a major role in transporting diphtheria serum through harsh conditions over nearly 700 miles to save the city from an epidemic.

Gunnar Kaasen and his lead sled dog Balto became known for running the final leg of the serum run while Seppala and his 12-year-old lead dog Togo ran the penultimate and longest leg in temperatures that were 30 degrees below zero in gale force winds.

The story will focus on the unlikely friendship between man and dog. Togo was an unruly and undersized puppy but showed great leadership qualities and became the lead dog at age 5. He passed away in 1929.

The project has not been set up with a producer. Jessica Virtue and Louie Provost are overseeing the project for the studio.

Flynn wrote the Blacklist script for “Gifted,” which is in production wth Marc Webb directing and Chris Evans starring. Fox Searchlight will release the movie, produced by FilmNation with Andy Cohen.

Flynn is repped by Original Artists and managed by Andy Cohen. His attorney is Shelley Surpin. The news was first reported by The Tracking Board.

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  1. Keznen says:

    Finally! It’s about time we get a movie about Togo! Balto (the real one that is, not the wolfdog fake) is great and all, but Togo needs recognition too! :D

  2. Maybe Disney could do a wonderful thing and make a short documentary to go with this movie showing the huge number of abandoned Huskies and Malamutes in rescue, many of which never make it out alive. They could show how the cute little puppies turn into large and often destructive dogs that can suffer severe separation anxiety if left alone all day while people work, need lots of exercise, have a huge prey drive and can not be trusted to run off lead. They could maybe follow the life of a few rescue dogs showing how they make great family members and should not be over looked in favour of puppies. Finally if people are really set on getting a puppy, they could explain why its vital to research a good ethical breeder that will give you 100% back up and to avoid at all costs any kind of puppy mill, backyard breeder, pet shop, the guy down the street and especially imported dogs. The over breeding of all dogs, (but especially sled dogs) is a worldwide problem that needs to be addressed and every time a movie or TV programme features these kind of dogs, there is another massive boom of abandoned pets 12 months later. It happened with Snow Dogs, 8 Below and more recently with Game of Thrones. Of course I doubt the documentary will happen and we, the volunteers within the sled dog rescue community will be left to pick up the pieces yet again as dozens of dogs are put to death but maybe, just maybe, Disney could take this fantastic opportunity and use this movie to start a revolution within the dog rescue community!!!

  3. Lisa says:

    While as a sled dog fan I’m elated that Togo and Seppela are finally getting their due, as a Siberian Husky breed rescue volunteer, this makes me wince. Every time a movie comes out with a particular type of dog, 4 – 12 months later a downpour of those types of dogs arrive at shelters and rescues when those puppies everyone bought after seeing the movie become not so cute in their bigger bodies. And only a fraction of those dogs make it out alive – most are euthanized. I would LOVE to see Disney pledge a portion of the movie profits to the shelters and rescues that have to deal with the movie’s aftermath. Not only would it truly help shelters save the lives of dogs that would otherwise be put down, but it would be an insanely great PR opportunity for them.

  4. Martha says:

    For Disney’s research, Togo is mounted, preserved, in Wasilla so the accurate colored and sized dog can be cast for the movie. Please do it right.

  5. Mary Lynn says:

    This will be fantastic! Togo was a true hero, and his story was eclipsed by Balto’s fame. I can’t wait. (P.s., Togo was a Siberian husky)

  6. Tim says:

    Remember the Alaskan Malamute is the State dog of Alaska voted in by the Children of that state. The Majority or 70 % of the dogs used to deliver the serum were Alaskan Malamutes.

  7. please don’t use show type dogs in the movie use the most historical (racing)type sibe sled dogs lets keep it true to the history thank you

  8. Disney is an excellent company and I think this movie is a wonderful idea if the history can be captured accurately. However, please consider requiring that any major Siberian Husky actors be spayed/neutered and contractually require that their owners not use the movie in any advertisements for their dogs and puppies. This would help avoid situations in the past where unscrupulous individuals advertised their puppies as having “movie star” bloodlines which resulted in an explosion of breeding from those dogs. Also the Siberian Husky is a wonderful breed, but not a breed suited for everyone. Please consider contacting the Siberian Husky Club of America for ideas for a disclaimer at the end encouraging anyone considering a Siberian to thoroughly research the breed before acquiring one. Thanks!

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