I don’t know about you, but Clifford the Big Red Dog was a huge part of my childhood (circa late nineties/early 2000s). My attachment to the character is mostly tied to the Clifford the Big Red Dog animated series that aired on PBS, but the character has been around since long before then, since his first appearance in a children’s book by Norman Bridwell published in 1963. I’ve been keeping an eye on the film adaptation of Clifford for some time now, and it looks like it’s finally moving forward after several years of development.
In 2012, Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment were set to bring the character to the screen in a live-action/CGI hybrid film scripted by Matt Lopez, who had previously written Bedtime Stories, Race to Witch Mountain, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for Disney. Illumination eventually jumped ship, and the film continued to be developed at Universal with director David Bowers (Flushed Away, Astro Boy) at the helm. It was briefly set for release on April 8, 2016, but obviously, that never materialized.
The Clifford film has been in development at Paramount Pictures since the studio picked up the rights in 2016. Office Christmas Party scribe Justin Malen was brought on board to take a pass at the screenplay, and that was the last we heard about the project up until now.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is still on at Paramount, and they’ve now enlisted Walt Becker to direct. Becker is the director of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, which I didn’t see, but it was panned by critics and is the lowest-grossing film of the franchise. Aside from The Road Chip, Becker has directed Old Dogs and Buying the Cow… That’s not a very encouraging body of work if you ask me.
As much as I’d like to be excited for a Clifford film, I wish there were better talent attached. The Hollywood Reporter’s article does mention that Justin Malen’s script is being rewritten by someone named Ellen Rapoport, but looking her up on IMDb I’m not seeing anything to suggest she’s a better fit for this project.
The first trailer for Peter Rabbit, another upcoming live-action/CGI hybrid film, was released earlier this week and was met with mostly negative response online. I mentioned in my coverage of the trailer that I’m not a fan of those pesky Chipmunk films, the ones that I’ve seen anyway, so I’m really not feeling great about Paramount’s choice of director for Clifford. That doesn’t mean that this is certain to be a dud, but, if I’m being honest, it’s not looking so good at this point.
What do you think of this news? Do you still have hope for the Clifford movie? Are you tired of live-action/CGI hybrid films? Woof your thoughts in the comments!
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes