THOMAS & FRIENDS™ UNVEILS EXCITING TRAILER AND WORLD-RENOWNED ACTOR HUGH BONNEVILLE FOR ITS FORTHCOMING NEW MOVIE “JOURNEY BEYOND SODOR” SET FOR RELEASE IN OVER 70 COUNTRIES THIS SUMMER
- THOMAS & FRIENDS™: JOURNEY BEYOND SODOR” FEATURES BLOCKBUSTER-STYLE MOVIE PLOT AND WILL BE SHOWN AROUND THE WORLD INCLUDING IN UK CINEMAS FROM FRIDAY 25th AUGUST
- “DOWNTON ABBEY” & “HARRY POTTER” ACTOR HUGH BONNEVILLE, A LIFELONG THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN, STARS AS THE VOICE OF SELF-ASSURED NEW ENGINE MERLIN WHO BELIEVES HE HAS SPECIAL POWERS OF INVISIBILITY
- THE RELEASE OF THE MOVIE TRAILER ALSO MARKS 72ND ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE™ BOOK, “THE THREE RAILWAY ENGINES”, WHICH WAS WRITTEN BY THE REVEREND W. AWDRY AND PUBLISHED ON THIS DAY IN 1945
- OTHER FAMOUS FACES TO HAVE PREVIOUSLY STARRED IN THE ESTEEMED ANIMATED SHOW INCLUDE RINGO STARR, EDDIE REDMAYNE, ALEC BALDWIN AND OLIVIA COLMAN
The world’s most famous blue engine, Thomas the Tank Engine, is gearing up for his biggest adventure yet in the brand new movie “Thomas & Friends™: Journey Beyond Sodor” – and a high-octane film trailer featuring new engine Merlin, voiced by multi-award-winning British actor Hugh Bonneville, and stunning new artwork and behind-the-scenes pictures and video, has been released today to announce its summer arrival date.
The 70-minute special will be shown in over 70 countries worldwide, including premiering in UK cinemas on Friday 25th August. Hugh is the latest star to join the roll call of famous faces who have appeared in Thomas & Friends, with Ringo Starr, Eddie Redmayne, Alec Baldwin and Olivia Colman all previously cast for parts in the much-loved children’s show.
In “Journey beyond Sodor”, the twelfth feature-length special movie to be released, Thomas leaves the Island of Sodor for the first time ever to travel to the mainland where he sees and experiences things that are beyond his wildest dreams. On his epic journey Thomas befriends the Experimental Engines, Lexi, Theo and Merlin, who look like no engines he has seen before. Merlin even has a special power – all he has to do is say ‘Invisibility on!’ and shut his eyes and he is convinced that nobody can see him!
After spotting a magical-looking place on the horizon, Thomas stumbles into the Steelworks, where he meets two engines, Frankie and Hurricane, who aren’t quite what they seem and soon put Thomas to work. When James comes to find Thomas and gets trapped in the Steelworks, it’s up to Thomas and his newfound friends to rescue James and prove that friendship always wins!
Hugh Bonneville, who voices Merlin, says: “I am delighted to be involved in the latest Thomas & Friends movie. Like so many others I enjoyed the books when I was young, so it’s a real honor to be voicing a new character, Merlin. To play an engine in one of Thomas’s adventures is a big thrill for a little boy in a grown-up body! One of the keys to Thomas’s endurance is that young children, who are just beginning to explore their imaginations through story telling, are drawn into a world they feel they can inhabit and understand. At their heart these are tales of friendship, adventure and lessons learned from mistakes made, all while trying to keep on the railway tracks.”
Having specially created Merlin’s appearance to match his on-screen persona the movie’s producers said that it is was a “happy coincidence” that the engine struck such a resemblance to Hugh Bonneville when the actor was brought on-board to voice the new character.
Ian McCue, Senior Producer of Thomas & Friends, said: “When we design engines’ faces it’s really important to us that their character comes across. Merlin is so full of life, energy and enthusiasm and despite being older than Thomas, he also has an innocence to him and he’s a really caring character. Our director worked on a few different sketches, from which we chose the face which we felt best fitted the character – we chose one which had big, sparkling eyes, and defined cheeks as he’s always laughing. As Merlin tries to make himself invisible, we also wanted to get across a slightly mystical feeling, which we feel his face does well!”
Thomas & Friends franchise and fan base continues to go from strength to strength including becoming a regular fixture at cinemas around the world. The previous movie special, The Great Race, enjoying a theatrical release in countries including UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and for the first time ever, Italy, with over 70 cinemas taking part in the screenings.
The release of the trailer today also coincides with the 72nd anniversary of the first ever Thomas the Tank™ Engine book, The Three Railway Engines, which was written by the Reverend W. Awdry and published on this day in 1945. Thomas the Tank Engine™ was created by the Rev W Awdry, as a storybook for his son. That story quickly grew to become the award-winning global brand franchise it is today, enjoyed by families in more than 150 territories and in over 40 languages across multiple touch-points and formats, including: 400+ original TV shows; 11 feature-length films; 14 websites in nine languages; apps; toys (ranked number one property in the pre-school toys category in the UK and Australia and number two in the US); consumer products; publishing; live attractions and much more.
Christopher Keenan, Senior Vice President Global Content & Executive Producer at Mattel Creations said: “Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor is a shining example of why Thomas continues to enjoy such global success. With its colorful, entertaining new characters and exciting story that takes Thomas off the Island of Sodor for the first time, the new movie stays true to the powerful themes that that matter most to children and their parents, especially today: celebrating friendship, embracing differences and working together to achieve common goals. These themes have been the foundation for Thomas & Friends for over seventy years, but this film brings them to life on an epic scale and promises to be a memorable theatrical event for Thomas fans of every age.”
Products that will support Journey Beyond Sodor release include brand new Fisher-Price toy lines featuring 4 new engines – Hurricane, Merlin and Lexi plus a special Steelwork’s edition of Thomas. This will be accompanied by exciting playsets based on the tentpole release including the new Inventors Scrap Yard Set in 2017 and Mainline Engines Greatest Moment Engine Assistant in 2018, as well as consumer products and licensing deals across key categories including clothing, books, puzzles coming to retail in late summer in select markets.