After taking a minute to gird its corporate loins for an entire year’s worth of puerile jokes about nuts and the various ways they might be cracked, Disney has announced that its next animated fairy tale feature will be an adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s 1816 story The Nutcracker And The Mouse King. The story—famously adapted into a ballet by Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in the 1890s, and currently going under the name The Nutcracker And The Four Realms—tells the tale of a young woman who’s whisked into a fantasy world by the titular rodent-battling Christmas toy.
Animated fairy tales like this one were once the crown jewels in the company’s feature film portfolio, but they’ve taken a backseat of late to live-action adaptations like Cinderella and Maleficent, and more modern fare like Big Hero 6 and Zootopia (currently tearing it up at the U.S. box office). That being said, the company’s last take on a semi-obscure bit of Europaean folklore—2013’s Frozen—did, you know, pretty well, to the tune of a billion dollars, two Oscars, and a million parents driven to distraction by endless repetitions of “Let It Go.” (Also, The Nutcracker sounds a little bit like Toy Story, and mimicking Pixar as closely as it can has served the company pretty well over the last few years.)
The Nutcracker And The Four Realms is being helmed by Chocolat and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape director Lasse Hallstrom, who will presumably bring a mix of small-town desperation and eroticism to his depiction of cities filled with talking rodents and ambulatory dolls. Black List screenwriter Ashleigh Powell is set to pen the script.