Dindal stated in the press release that “Comic strip characters have always had a special appeal to me. To have this opportunity to make a film with a classic character like Garfield is a privilege and a thrill.” The animation veteran will adapt from a screenplay written by Paul Kaplan and Mark Torgove, with pre-production starting in Los Angeles next month.
The rights for Garfield were acquired by Alcon in 2016, with the intent to create a CG-animated movie franchise based on the comics. Garfield creator Jim Davis will serve as an executive producer on the project along with Bridget McMeel, while John Cohen (The Angry Birds Movie) and Steven P. Wegner (Racing Stripes) will act as producers.
Regarding Dindal’s opportunity, Alcon presidents Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove said: “Jim Davis’ beloved creation has been an international sensation for all ages for decades and we are thrilled to partner with Mark Dindal, who has brought delightful characters to life throughout the years. We are excited to see what he does with Garfield.”
Ongoing since 1978, Garfield is currently the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip, appearing in 2,580 newspapers and journals, and spawning many screen adaptations. These include the classic Garfield & Friends animated show, two live-action movies by 20th Century Fox featuring Bill Murray as the titular CG feline, video games like Garfield Kart, and much more.
Although no release date, animation studio, or distributor is mentioned, it should be assumed that Warner Bros. would be handling this in their current partnership with Alcon. If this is the case, this would ironically make Dindal’s directorial works come full circle, starting with a cat-themed movie at Warner Bros. and ending up with another cat-themed movie at the same studio.
Speaking of which, Dindal has not directed an animated feature since 2005’s Chicken Little, even though I believe that movie’s problems are more due to Disney’s desperate push to make it a Shrek-like success. Now that he’s been granted another chance to showcase his talents, especially with a popular character like Garfield, that idea alone sounds like he could something both highly enjoyable and faithful to the comics, much more so than the live-action ones.