Warner Bros. kicked off its revitalized animation initiative with The LEGO Movie in 2014. That film worked out pretty well for the studio, but the films since then—Storks, The LEGO Batman Movie, and The LEGO Ninjago Movie—have been nowhere near as successful in terms of box office. Warner Bros. remains determined to succeed in animation despite these hiccups, however, with several more animated films on the way, including some inspired by the works of Dr. Seuss. The first of these new animated Seussian endeavors will be The Cat in the Hat, based of course on the book of the same name.
The deal was announced today by Warner Bros. and Dr. Seuss Enterprises and reported by The Hollywood Reporter among other outlets. The Cat in the Hat is the first title the companies intend to make, but you can expect more to be announced as that film moves forward.
Illumination Entertainment was previously developing an animated Cat in the Hat film for Universal, but word is that the project never quite got off the ground. Illumination produced the most recent Dr. Seuss film, The Lorax, released in 2012, and is currently in production on The Grinch, set to be released later this year. Prior to that, Blue Sky Studios produced an adaptation of Horton Hears a Who! with 20th Century Fox.
There is precedent for a Cat in the Hat feature film, but it’s safe to assume that whoever Warner recruits to shepherd the animated film will take a vastly different approach to the adaptation. The live-action Cat in the Hat, released in 2003, was ravaged by critics and veered so far from the source material that it inspired a mandate that a live-action adaptation of Seuss’ work should never be attempted again (as long as Audrey Giesel has a say, anyway).
I wonder if The Cat in the Hat moving from Illumination to Warner Bros. has anything to do with how Illumination’s Grinch is coming along. I mostly liked The Lorax, and I’ve had high hopes for the new Grinch film, but something about this news makes me worried that Illumination may have dropped the ball on this one. I honestly haven’t liked anything Warner Bros. has put out since relaunching its animation division, so I’m not sure what to make of this news just yet.