Gabriele M. Walther’s Munich-based Caligari Film, the company behind ARD’s hit remake of Czechoslovakian kids’ series “Pan Tau,” is producing a new 3D/CGI animated title about a group of crime-fighting mice inspired by “The Three Musketeers.”
“The Muscleteers” follows four daring mice who band together to help those in need and fight crime in the Harbor district, where shadow-filled alleyways pose grave threats to the rodent community: Cats, exterminators, construction activity, garbage collection and oblivious humans.
The series, set to premiere on Germany’s ZDF next year, is being sold internationally by ZDF Enterprises, which is also handling world sales for “Pan Tau.”
The new English-language, 14-part live-action series has become a hit for ARD’s Das Erste since premiering Oct. 4 and it’s becoming a mainstay of the channel’s Sunday morning lineup.
“Pan Tau” is based on the classic 1970s Czechoslovakian children’s series created by Ota Hofman and Jindřich Polák about a magical being who helps kids in need.
Starring as the titular character in the new series is English comedian-magician Matt Edwards, who shot to fame on “Britain’s Got Talent.”
Noting that the character of Pan Tau does not speak, Walther, Caligari’s founder and managing director, says Edwards was ideal for the role.
“Of course if somebody doesn’t talk you need the skills to bring your mentality across. Being a magician and a performer, he was the ideal character. He’s known, but on the other hand unknown. And he has enormous skills of magic and so he was able to do magic in the shot as a magician. He was a perfect fit.”
Despite the original series’ age, Walther saw potential for a modern-day reboot of the character.
“Maybe it’s because I like to talk that I’ve always been fascinated by a character that doesn’t talk but who can still move things and has an impact on our world.
“Magic is always something that is interesting and the other aspect which was fascinating were these really great images that the original had, really fantastic points of view. It was another perspective to the world, which I think is really good entertainment.”
The original series was popular on both sides of the Iron Curtain, beloved not only in East and West Germany and Czechoslovakia, but also throughout Eastern Europe as well as in Spain and Denmark, Walther adds.
The tumultuous changes in Europe since the end of the Cold War made securing the rights to “Pan Tau” somewhat complicated, however.
“It’s an interesting history,” Walther points out. When the show started, Germany was divided, but Czechoslovakia was united, while today Germany is united and the Czech Republic and Slovakia are separate countries. The series’ original Czechoslovakian distributor no longer exists.
In the end, however, the producers managed to acquire the rights from the family of the original series’ director.
“Pan Tau” is also an ideal property for Caligari Film, which focuses on animation, high-end kids’ programs, family entertainment and female-driven shows, Walther adds.