New York rat
A woman checks out the "Rate my Rat" section of the website in New York in 2012. Subway workers held a photo contest for the "nastiest" shot of a rodent, with a grand prize of a monthly transit pass to protest what they called NYC's rat infestation. Reuters

There are twice as many rats in New York City as people.

And given the despised rodents’ disease-carrying reputations and generally gnarly appearances, most New Yorkers prefer them out of sight and out of mind. But a new documentary from the team behind the Sea World expose“Blackfish” will bring the vermin out of the subway tunnels and into the harsh spotlight.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Dakota Group and Submarine Entertainment, distributors of the documentaries “Blackfish” and “The Cove,” announced the film at the Toronto Film Festival Sunday. It will be a feature-length documentary based on Robert Sullivan’s bestseller, “Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants.” David Koh and Stanley Buchenthal of Dakota Group and Josh and Dan Braun of Submarine will produce. Sullivan will consult on the film and provide extra information that didn’t make it into the book.

"We have been obsessed and terrified by rats living in New York City over the years, and when we read Robert Sullivan's book, we couldn't put it down," the producers told the Hollywood Reporter. "We look forward … [to] bringing [Sullivan’s] highly entertaining and scholarly book to the big screen."

The movie, like Sullivan’s book, will take a panoramic look at New York City’s rat problem and will feature perspectives from average city residents, along with exterminators, trash collectors, city officials, scientists, ethnographers, scholars and historians of the hardy creatures. (No word on whether the SoHo man who filmed a rat charging him on the subway will make an appearance.) Like the book, the documentary will chart the critters' arrival to America centuries ago on ships that came from London, Norway and Holland. But unlike the book, the documentary will be able to take the viewer on an in-your-face tour of New York City’s most rat-infested neighborhoods.

It’s doubtful that “Rats” will be able to humanize these pests the way the animated feature “Ratatouille” did -- by turning the despised vermin into a charming gourmand -- but perhaps a little more information about the rodent will make some think twice before running away at the sight of one.