Max (HBO Max rebrand launching May 23) and Cartoon Network have greenlit an animated rendition of the beloved classic tale Peter & The Wolf featuring music and narration by Gavin Friday and artwork based on original illustrations by Bono. Sergei Prokofiev’s symphony, performed by The Friday Seezer Ensemble, provides the backdrop for the project, which touches on themes of growing up, loss, courage, transformation, and our relationship with nature. The animated short film is scheduled to premiere later this year and is part of an ongoing relationship with the Irish Hospice Foundation.
The short features the Prokofiev score, newly arranged by Maurice Seezer and Friday, with artwork based on original illustrations by Bono, from his book of the same name.
The animated short juxtaposes traditional hand-drawn 2D animation combined with a physical set-built world while reimagining the classic tale that follows a grieving 12-year-old Peter, who is now in the care of his grandfather after enduring the loss of a parent. Upon hearing stories of a wolf on the loose, Peter decides to explore the vast meadow and forest nearby to try and find the wolf himself. Along the way, he encounters creatures who help him on his quest while contending with hunters aiming to win a prize for capturing the wolf.
“The messaging of vigilance, bravery, and resilience that were core to the original symphony are still echoed throughout our interpretation, but we spin a traditional fairy tale into a unique adaptation that also incorporates the topic of loss, redemption, and recovery,” said Friday and Bono. “It’s our hope that this Peter & the Wolf becomes a balm for any child dealing with loss, alongside exposing and captivating them into the wonderful and musical world of Prokofiev.”
In 2003, Friday and Bono originally developed the project to support the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF), a national charity supporting those facing dying, death, and bereavement. IHF began with the aim to extend the availability of hospice services across the country and has now grown to develop programs in education, research, and bereavement services. The Peter & the Wolf team has worked closely with IHF, who advised on how to represent best the story’s sensitive themes of bereavement and loss with authenticity and thoughtfulness.
In the retelling, Peter is an angsty adolescent with a lighthearted side that emerges, along with resourcefulness and determination, revealing his thoughtful and very human side. Each character represents different aspects of Peter, with the Wolf embodying his relationship with grief and the unknown, his grandfather representing his family connection, and the forest creatures who capture the comedy, naivete, and carefree elements of childhood.
“The emotion and artistry that Gavin has created in this modern retelling of Peter & the Wolf brings a sense of fearlessness and style this story has never seen before,” said Michael Ouweleen, president, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Family, and Boomerang. “We think this slightly punk rock version of the timeless classic fuses beautifully for every audience, and we are honored that Bono and Gavin have entrusted us as the home to share such a personal journey.”
To reflect the project’s unique nature, Blink Industries developed a mixed media approach to the production that embraced the 2D roots of Bono’s original designs while creating a tangible, immersive, atmospheric world for Peter and his cohorts. In addition, the monochromatic rendering of the film adds to the timeless quality of the piece.
Working with their extensive team of model makers, directors Stephen McNally and Elliot Dear built and filmed all the environments as miniatures in their studio in London before seamlessly compositing the 2D hand-drawn character animation into the world. The interplay of the 2D drawings with light and shade from the physical world blends the interaction between animated characters and model made environments.
BMG and Blink Industries produced Peter & the Wolf, with Alistair Norbury & Stuart Souter serving as executive producers for BMG executive and Benjamin Lole & James Stevenson Bretton as executive producers at Blink Industries.
Blink Industries’ Dear and McNally are directors, and the producer is Adriana Piasek-Wanski.