Thomas the Tank Engine's home, the Island of Sodor, is to inspire a next generation fantasy adventure film franchise.
Hit Entertainment has revealed that Academy Award nominated director, Shane Acker, has signed up for the project. In addition, Weta Workshop and Mattel's entertainment properties design team have come on board to re-imagine the core characters and the world in a way that will appeal to a family audience.
The new movie universe for the Thomas franchise will complement the pre-school Thomas & Friends brand.
"For us, an evergreen property like Thomas is a unique opportunity to both enhance and reinvent the characters to live across multiple media," commented David Voss, VP of Mattel's entertainment design group. "This is an exciting opportunity to take Thomas to a whole different level, while maintaining its core essence."
Jeff Dunn, CEO of Hit Entertainment, added: "Mattel is a major strategic partner for the Thomas toy franchise and integral to its phenomenal success. Engaging Mattel's entertainment design team to re-imagine the toys for an older audience was a natural choice for our film production group.
"Similarly, we're delighted to have the expertise of Weta Workshop to bring state of the art design to this compelling project."
The film's producer, Julia Pistor, continued: "Shane is a visionary director whose talent for creating new worlds knows no bounds. He is the perfect creative partner to bring a unique interpretation of the Island of Sodor and Thomas to the big screen.
"The look and feel of the world and characters will be an entirely new experience."