Ext. Woods. Day

An apple tree stands alone at the top of a hill. A handsome fox dressed in an Edwardian–style navy velvet suit leans against it with his arms folded and his legs crossed, chewing on a reed of wild grass. He holds an apple core in his paw. He spits out a seed. He looks off across a meadow that descends into the valley below. A female fox strides briskly up the hill. Her coat is a paler, especially beautiful shade of fox–red, and she wears men’s trousers and a dark tunic. Fox says as she approaches:

Fox What’d the doctor say?

Mrs. Fox Nothing. Supposedly, it’s just a twenty–four hour bug. He gave me some pills.

Fox (reassuringly) I told you. You probably just ate some bad gristle.

Fox brushes the fur on Mrs. Fox’s ears with his paws. They walk together along the crest of the hill to a fork in the path. Fox points:

Fox Should we take the short cut or the scenic route?

Mrs. Fox Let’s take the short cut.

Fox But the scenic route is so much prettier.

Mrs. Fox (shrugs) OK, let’s take the scenic route.

Fox Great. It’s actually slightly quicker, anyway.

Fox throws his apple core away over his shoulder and dances a quick circle around Mrs. Fox, wrapping his arm around her waist extravagantly and making her laugh as they start off down the scenic route.

Ext. Farm. Day

A rustic cottage surrounded by a small barn, a tin silo, and a rickity windmill. There is a sheep in a little pasture. A sign on a rail says Berkus Squab. Fox and Mrs. Fox watch from the bushes outside a fence.

Mrs. Fox What is a squab?

Fox You know what a squab is. It’s like a pigeon, I suppose. Anyway, it’s a type of bird we can eat. Fox motions toward the edge of the property.

Fox Should we go through the hole under the horse fence or climb the rail over the bridle path?

Mrs. Fox Well, I guess the horse fence would be a little safer.

Fox But the bridle path puts us out right next to the squab shack.

Mrs. Fox hesitates. She fiddles with her paws. She nods nervously. She shakes slightly. Fox looks at her funny.

Fox What’s wrong? I’ve never seen you like this. You’re acting all skittish. Don’t worry. I’ve been stealing birds for a living since before I could trot.

Mrs. Fox (SHRUGS) OK, let’s take the ––

Fox No, we’ll do the horse fence. You gave me the scenic route already.

Fox flashes a smile. He says suddenly:

Fox By the way, you look unbelievably beautiful tonight. You’re practically glowing. Maybe it’s the lighting.

Mrs. Fox is, in fact, glowing, albeit ever so slightly. She stares at Fox enigmatically. Fox touches his paw to her cheek. (NOTE: an alternate version of Mrs. Fox will be used for this shot which can be literally lit from within.) With the speed, grace, and precision of athletes, Fox and Mrs. Fox: dart through a hole under a painted fence; race along a thin trail next to a garage; crawl beneath a window where a blonde woman serves an early dinner, dealing hamburgers like playing cards to three little, blond children; creep past a doghouse where a golden retriever sleeps with an airline sleeping mask over his eyes; and shimmy over a doorway outside a workshop where a blond, bearded farmer hacks into a stump with a hatchet, completely pulverizing it into sawdust. They arrive in front of a wooden shed. Fox whistles sharply with a half–chirp and performs a rapid reverse–flip with a flourish. Fox lifts a loose board. He looks to Mrs. Fox and puts his finger to his lips for her to be quiet. She shrugs impatiently. They duck inside. They come back out. Each holds a dead, bloody pigeon in his/her teeth. They start to run away. Fox looks up above them. He stops. He frowns. He takes the pigeon out of his mouth and says curiously, pointing toward the sky:

Fox What’s that? I think that’s a fox–trap! Look at this.

Mrs. Fox Get away from there.

Fox Is it spring–loaded? Yeah... (pointing to different spots) I guess if you come from over there, and you’re standing at the door to the squab shack, this little gadget probably triggers the –– (gesturing to Mrs. Fox) Move out of the way, darling. That’s right where it’s going to land.

Mrs. Fox runs back to Fox and tugs at his arm.

Mrs. Fox Come on! Stop it! Let’s go!

Fox pulls on a little, hanging wire. A chain unrolls rapidly from a pulley, and a steel cage falls slap down on top of them. A small tag on the base of it says Badoit et Fils. Fox and Mrs. Fox stand motionless, side by side, in disbelief.

Fox No, it just falls straight down right here, doesn’t it? I guess it’s not spring– loaded.

Sounds come from around the farm: the dog barks, doors open, voices yell, lights come on. Mrs. Fox turns to Fox and says Quietly:

Mrs. Fox I’m pregnant.

Fox stares at Mrs. Fox. He is confused but moved.

Fox Wow. We’re going to have a cub. Honey, that’s great news!

Mrs. Fox If we’re still alive tomorrow morning, I want you to find another line of work.

Pause. Fox nods.

cut to:

A wide shot of the entire valley. There are thick woods, green and yellow fields, two ponds, a small village, and a river running through the middle.

Title: 2 years later ( 12 Fox–Years) Ext. Hole. Day The entrance to a tunnel under a dirt mound covered with holly bushes.

Int. Hole. Day A small, comfortable kitchen off a living room with two bedrooms behind it. Fox sits at the kitchen table reading a newspaper called the Gazette. His fur has gone grey at the temples, and he now wears a dark, double–breasted, pin–striped suit with a conservative necktie. Mrs. Fox stands at the counter–top stirring something in a bowl with a whisk.

She is dressed in a paint–splattered, cream–colored, Victorian–style dress. insert: A column in the newspaper with Fox’s picture at the top of it. The caption reads: Fox about Town with Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Fox Does anybody actually read my column? Do your friends ever talk about it?

Mrs. Fox (still stirring) Of course. In fact, Rabbit’s ex–girlfriend just said to me last week, "I should read Foxy’s column," but they don’t get the Gazette. (yelling into the next room) Ash! Let’s get cracking!

Fox Why would they? It’s a rag–sheet. (sighs) I want to say I hate my job, but that would make it seem more important to me than I want people to think it is.

Mrs. Fox puts down her bowl and starts slicing a loaf of bread. A small, narrow fox cub comes out of one of the bedrooms wearing white pants and no shirt. His hair is smashed all onto one side sticking up wrong. He is Ash.

Ash I’m sick.

Mrs. Fox You’re not sick.

Ash I have a temperature.

Mrs. Fox goes quickly over to Ash and puts her paw to his forehead.

Mrs. Fox You don’t have a temperature. Ash turns away and says as he goes back into his bedroom:

Ash I don’t want to go.