Live Action, Paramount Animation, The Latest Animation News

The ‘Clifford’ Movie Is Still Happening and Now Has a Director

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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

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About Angelo Thomas

Angelo Thomas is a writer, director, and pop culture enthusiast. In addition to writing for Rotoscopers, he writes for The Royal Blog of Oz and guest hosts The Royal Podcast of Oz. Angelo was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently studying Film & Video in Columbus, Ohio at the Columbus College of Art & Design, where he has also worked as an assistant in Marketing & Communications. His favorite film of all time is The Wizard of Oz, which has influenced much of his personal and professional work. In terms of his love for animation, Tangled and Frozen aren't just great animated films in his opinion — they're some of the best films ever made. Angelo is always prepared to give and defend his opinions when it comes to film and animation, which he often does on social media. He can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr @imangelothomas.
  • Manuel Orozco

    As much as I remember the cartoon show on PBS and books of course, I’m not up for this new version of Clifford. Speaking of Illumination, where’s an update on their remake of Cat in the Hat?

    • Angelo Thomas

      Well, The Grinch will be released in 2018, which will be six years after The Lorax. I guess Illumination isn’t in a rush to crank out Dr. Seuss adaptations, especially since they now have three original, very successful franchises in Despicable Me, Secret Life of Pets, and Sing. I’m sure they’ll start getting to work on Cat in the Hat soon enough, but yeah, they have plenty of other films lined up at the moment.

      • Manuel Orozco

        True and I do plan to watch the Grinch

  • Karl “Karlamon” Smith

    I honestly never see the appeal of live-action/CGI films based on cartoons. Almost all the time, they end up sucking because they fail to capture the spirit of the source material. Instead, they are tarnished with derivative stories that usually focus more on the real-life humans, a need to be hip with the kids, awful toilet humour, over-detailed CG characters, and excessive product placement.

    Now with Clifford going the live-action/CGI route, and with director of The Road Chip on board, I’m not convinced in this being any good. It makes me wish that fully-animated properties should stay fully-animated.

    • Manuel Orozco

      As much as I liked the Chipmunk movies I didn’t see Road Chip because of the Chipettes having less screen time.

    • Frank Coufal

      I heartily agree.

    • Dave 52

      Paddington and arguably Stuart Little are the best films to come out of this genre. I would also say Yogi Bear is another example because despite not being a great film it still tries to capture the spirit of the original and for the most part succeeds.

      • Angelo Thomas

        I liked Yogi Bear, too! It’s good to know I’m not the only one who enjoyed that one. I didn’t mind the first Chipmunk movie either.

        • Malcolm Rambert

          I can’t say for myself since I haven’t watched it, but Korey of enjoyed it:

          P.S. If you’re interested they are now known as Double Toasted; they’re a GREAT podcast! 🙂

      • Manuel Orozco

        I remember Stuart Little when I was 7 back in 2000. I didn’t see Paddington because I wasn’t familiar with the books and I was really fooled by the trailers. Yogi Bear wasn’t there for me either

  • Yeah the talent um….is questionable….so I’m just gonna try and…well….um….think less upsettingly about this one? Idk I gotta see more to really judge I think…

  • Yeah, this probably won’t turn out well, considering the talent involved.

  • amelia Gronvall

    Yet another children’s classic ruined…

    I can foresee toilet humor, rude language, bad acting, and shameless product placement ahead.

  • Mr Kidnapper McBlackmail

    You gonna do the thing this post said?
    (the second one, obviously)