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Thomas the Tank Engine is an American-British 2021 upcoming live-action/computer-animated hybrid film directed by Marc Forster, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Mattel Films, 2DUX² and Pixar Animation Studios. It is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film is based on Wilbert Awdry and his son Christopher's Railway Series books and Britt Allcroft's Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends television series. It is made to celebrate Thomas's debut in the second Railway Series book (named after him) published in 1946, 75 years ago.
Taking place within one of the Final Years of World War II and as well as in Sodor, TBD.
- Christopher Awdry (portrayed by TBA) - One of the film's main protagonists. TBA
- Wilbert Awdry (portrayed by TBA) - Christopher's father, who visited Sodor when he was a four-year old child, but cannot remember. Besides being a railway enthuasist, he also works as a soldier of the King's Royal Rifle Corps in this adaptation. He befriended Edward and Thomas in Sodor since a latter was built and transferred to North Western Railway there.
- Margaret Awdry (portrayed by TBA) - Wilbert's wife and Christopher's mother, who later suggested to publish books based on Sodor and it's engines after her son returned back to home with Thomas.
- Sir Charles Topham Hatt/The Fat Director (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins) - TBA. Unlike a television series (where he is called The Fat Controller), the Fat Director is based on Sir Topham Hatt I (from the books) with a name he used in The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine.
- Diana (portrayed by Sally Hawkins) - A daughter of Thomas's driver, who Christopher fell in love with. TBA. Based on Diana Scott, Christopher's ex-wife.
- Thomas the Tank Engine (voiced by Tom Holland) - A film's titular protagonist. He is a little blue engine who runs his own branch line and longed to leave his station yard and see the world. A movie is narrated on his perspective (as revealed in a ending), focusing on his character development from a cheeky into a mature, selfless and caring engine while taking care of Christopher and taking him back home to re-unite with his father.
- Diesel (voiced by Andy Serkis) - One of the film's antagonists. A devious and manipulative diesel engine (ret-conned as experimental given a setting) who is owned by the Nazis and hates steam engines with a passion to the point he wants to destroy them and got his chance when he was sent to Sodor.
- James the Red Engine (voiced by Robert Pattinson) - A mixed-traffic tender engine who is very proud of his splendid red paintwork to the point he loves showing it off, being quite vain, hot-headed and sometimes boastful.
- Percy the Small Engine (voiced by Roman Griffin Davis) - A green saddle tank engine, who is Thomas's best friend and one of the youngest (besides Rosie), being much cheekier than him as he likes teasing big engines such as Gordon and James.
- Gordon the Big Engine (voiced by Hugh Laurie) - Sodor's biggest, fastest and strongest engine, who's important position on pulling the express makes him arrogant, stubborn and prideful. Is firm friends with James despite their arguments.
- Henry the Green Engine (voiced by Asa Butterfield) - A green tender engine, who can be nervous, timid and highly-strung at times. He was later rebuilt with a new firebox after his crash/accident with the Flying Kipper in 1935, 8 years prior to the film's events.
- Edward the Blue Engine (voiced by Jim Broadbent) - Sodor's oldest and wisest steam engine, who acts as a voice of reason to other engines and Thomas's father figure/mentor since his arrival to North Western Railway in 1915.
- Winston (voiced by James Horan) - James's older brother, who is nice/kind but seems to get stressed sometimes and lashful at others, despite him being capable of comforting his younger brother. He is often called Eagle for his sharp eyesight. Based on the unnamed red engine from The Three Railway Engines.
- Alfred and Cecil (voiced by Jim Cummings and Tom Kenny) - Twin tender engines who are quite horrid, rude and spiteful to other engines. Alfred is the oldest, smartest and rudest of the twins. Cecil was also named "Crovan" at some point and also a bit nicer than his older brother. Based on 87546 and 98462, who appeared in The Three Railway Engines.
- Rosie the Lavender Engine (voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz) - A pink American tank engine, who acts like a tomboy and is bought by The Fat Director during World War II. She had a crush on Thomas to the point she imitates him on her first day at work, irritating him in process.
- Emily the Stirling Single (voiced by Karen Gillan) - A emerald green-painted female Scottish tender engine, who became Thomas's love interest when they met each other in the Mainland and later joined him during his journey back to Sodor.
- Toby the Tram Engine (voiced by Daniel Craig) - A tram engine who is old-fashioned, but wise and hard-working. Appears in the mid-credits flashback scene, which references Toby and the Stout Gentleman and him being Christopher's favorite character in the books.
- Duck the Great Western Engine (voiced by Simon Pegg) - A green pannier tank engine, who was named after his waddle and holds great pride in being Great Western, making him a strong work ethic. His real name is Montague. Makes his only appearance in a ending scene when Thomas finishes up his story about his and Christopher's adventure.
- Annie and Clarabel (voiced by Brie Larson) - Thomas's passenger coaches who he acquired (alongside his branch line) after he rescued James from a nasty accident. They are caring and respectful, but can be stern when needed.
- Terence the Tractor (voiced by Patrick Walsh) - An orange caterpillar tractor who works in Thomas's branch line and rescued him after he got stuck in a snowdrift without his snowplough.
- Bertie the Bus (voiced by Michael Sheen) - A red bus who works alongside Thomas in his branch line, occasionally racing each other. He is easy-going and cheerful to everyone.
Most of the movie's plot was inspired by a cancelled 2010s theatrical film The Adventures of Thomas (directed by Shane Acker and produced by Julia Pistor), which first took place in London during the events of World War II and has a pre-teen boy (Christopher) drifted apart from his father, ending up in the island of Sodor with a series of steam-vs-diesel confrontations/conflicts happening.
It is also made for older audiences who are fans of the Railway Series books and original television series released in 1984-2003 (and as well as anyone who grew up with media that are based on them), being closer to source material, engines using modified, realistic and updated models and also Pixar's second film which uses live-action elements since 2008's WALL-E (with a small amount of footage).
The film has met with critical acclaim and box office success, receiving positive responses from both critics and long-time fans of the books and original television series.
It was praised for it's faithfulness to source material, nostalgic references, realistic depictions of themes such as railways and World War II, visual effects, musical score and performances, compared to Mattel's reboot "Thomas and Friends: All Engines Go!" they released the month before a film in October, which was negatively reviewed since it's announcement, thus making fans call the film as a "true revival" of the series.
Disney revealed that they made a deal with HiT Entertainment and will release Seasons 1-7 (original airings for the first five seasons alongside a cancelled episode for the series, The Missing Coach in which would be remastered and updated), 8-11, 17-21 (albeit with Engine Roll Call edited out and a main theme being replaced with Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell's iconic theme song for both of these eras, even though a Season 19-21 version is included on extras as well), Shining Time Station, Thomas and the Magic Railroad (with deleted scenes from the "director's cut" version of the said film), King of the Railway, Tale of the Brave, The Adventure Begins and even, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure on their streaming service, Disney+, to promote the film. Similarly, the original Seasons of the Television Series (albeit this time, remastered and updated) would also be re-run on American Television via Disney Channel in addition to releasing these Seasons on Hulu to promote the film. Also, a DVD called Thomas' Origins would be made too.
In a special premiere screening at El Capitan Theatre, before starting a film, Disney showed a short documentary focusing on Walt Disney and his company's history with trains such as his role as a rail enthusiast, Carolwood Pacific Railroad in his backyard, Casey Junior in Dumbo, The Brave Engineer, etc. which was later added in home media releases as one of the special features/extras and a separate film on Disney+.
The Home media releases will have the Theatrical Cut and as well as an Extended Cut that includes the Deleted Scenes with Interesting Concepts.
Other media being set within the film's universe such as other spin-offs like films and novels about everyone else (other than a spin-off sequel series) and thus, expanding it further in addition to video games are under consideration, depending on what to do.
Since the film's success in box office and critical reception, Disney acquired the franchise's distribution and production rights from Mattel, having also bought HiT Entertainment as one of their studios/companies in the United Kingdom with Britt Allcroft as it's new supervisor, while Christopher Awdry and his son Richard, continues the book series by themselves with Disney's permission.
A spin-off series, Thomas' Tales from Sodor, in which is the sequel to the film is revealed to air on Disney+ in 2022 (with television re-runs being under consideration), centering on Thomas and Emily's relationship, alongside other engines' adventures, after the film's events.
- The movie takes place in 1943 (also one of the three final years where WWII took place), between Henry the Green Engine and Toby the Tram Engine by continuing the events of the Railway Series timeline.
- During this, Christopher would be three years old when he first arrived to Sodor, even though he knows about railways more than those of his age because his father's stories and job as a railway enthusiast.
Some of the ideas came from Jake Rutigliano's Thomas and the Great War story, DaveMan1000's cast choices and some comments on DeviantArt for Disney and Pixar taking part (not only because of 2DUX² having made films for a former).
A spin-off series is also inspired by AaronCottrell97's stories.