One of the movies responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating—too scary for PG but not graphic enough for R—is getting turned into an animated series. Joe Dante’s 1984 film Gremlins is getting a cartoon some 35 years later. The news broke back in 2019, when WarnerMedia ordered a 10-episode prequel to the 1984 classic. The animated series will focus on Gizmo and a young version of his original owner, Mr. Wing, played in the original film by Keye Luke. Tze Chun, a veteran of TV series like Gotham and Once Upon a Time, is attached to write and executive produce.
Now, we have word of who’ll be voicing the characters on the animated series, titled Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai. As reported by Variety (via Gizmodo), the cast will include Izaac Wang as young star Sam Wing; his parents will be played by TV and film vets B.D. Wong (of Law & Order and Jurassic Park fame) and Ming-Na Wen (of ER, The Mandalorian). On the other side of the good-and-evil spectrum, Matthew Rhys (of The Americans and Perry Mason) will voice the series’ main antagonist; he’s an “English industrialist and treasure hunter who wields black magic,” and who aims to seize li’l Gizmo.
Here is the official synopsis:
In the animated television adaptation, we travel back to 1920s Shanghai to reveal the story of how 10-year-old Sam Wing (future shop owner Mr. Wing in the 1984 movie) met the young Mogwai called Gizmo. Along with a teenage street thief named Elle, Sam and Gizmo take a perilous journey through the Chinese countryside, encountering, and sometimes battling, colorful monsters and spirits from Chinese folklore. On their quest to return Gizmo to his family and uncover a legendary treasure, they are pursued by a power-hungry industrialist and his growing army of evil Gremlins.
Amblin Entertainment will produce the series, written by Tze Chun and featuring producers of things like The Americans, Animaniacs, and Teen Titans Go!
The series will head to HBO Max at a yet undisclosed date. Dante’s original film—produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus—was a massive hit, thanks in no small part to the amazing anamatronic creatures by Chris Walas, and the adorable lead creature, Gizmo. Infamously, Columbus’ original script was a straight horror movie and had Gizmo turn into the lead evil Gremlin to be destroyed by Billy Peltzer, but Spielberg interceded and saved the little guy from the slaughter.
And it’s a good thing he did; though we haven’t had a new adventure featuring the cuddly Mogwai and its scaly green progeny since 1990’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch—itself a half-parody of the original—Gremlins remains a cult favorite. It’s still considered one of Warner Bros’ biggest success stories, grossing over $153 million against a budget of only $11 million. That’s equivalent to almost $400 million in today’s dollars. That’s probably why a script for a third film keeps getting kicked around.
We’re gonna guess the animated series won’t be super scary, but the iconic design of the titular baddies would look pretty great in cartoon form. Maybe the series will finally explain the incredibly vague rule about feeding them after midnight. And, like, what about time zones?
This article was originally published on July 1, 2019, with updates on February 17, 2021.
Images: Warner Bros