The comedy adventure is to mark the directorial debut for both Clare Knight, who worked as an editor on The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and the Kung Fu Panda trilogy, and Aussie writer Harry Cripps (The Magic Pudding, Supernova, Penguin Bloom). Cripps has also penned the screenplay.
The plot will follow a ragtag group of Australia’s deadliest creatures that have had enough with being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they’re monsters. They decide to escape from their zoo and head to the Outback, where they’ll be able to fit in without being judged for their scales and fangs.
Fisher will be voicing the group’s leader, Maddie, a poisonous snake with a heart of gold. Maddie bands together with a self-assured Thorny Devil lizard Zoe (voiced by Miranda Tapsell), a lovelorn hairy spider Frank (Pearce), and a sensitive scorpion Nigel (Angus Imrie). A bit of wildcard comes with cute but obnoxious koala Pretty Boy (Tim Minchin), a nemesis who unexpectedly joins their escape.
Rachel House, Keith Urban, Celeste Barber, Wayne Knight, Aislinn Derbez, Diesel Cash La Torraca, Lachlan Ross Power, and Oscar-nominee Jacki Weaver are also among the voice cast.
“I have always been touched by stories of hidden beauty,” said director Knight. “Maddie is both uniquely beauty and beast, and to get to present that message in comedy is the icing on the cake.”
Said writer-director Cripps: “Growing up in Australia, I spent a lot of time in the Blue Mountains which has many different types of snakes and spiders, and I always preferred them to the cute cuddly animals, so it’s such a treat to make a film where the heroes are these poisonous but beautiful little creatures. This film is a love letter to Australia’s incredibly diverse and unique wildlife.”
The film’s score will be coming from Rupert Gregson-Williams (Aquaman) and the songs from Minchin, who has plenty of experience crafting musical comedy and whose credits include Matilda the Musical and Groundhog Day, a musical based on the 1993 Bill Murray comedy.
Daniela Mazzucato is on board to produce and Akiva Goldsman and Greg Lessans, who developed the story with crips, are set to exec produce via their Weed Road Pictures banner.
Back to the Outback is due to launch in the second half of 2021.