As we’ve said before, Hollywood can turn anything into a movie these days – and that includes syndicated comic strips. One of the most popular titles in that realm of media is Garfield (created by cartoonist Jim Davis), which has already received the big screen treatment twice. In 2004, Fox released the live-action/animation hybrid Garfield: The Movie, followed by the sequel Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties two years later. Neither was particularly well-received, and following Two Kitties flopping at the box office with $28.4 million domestically, the series was put on hold.
Now, however, it seems to be getting new life. On the heels of The Peanuts Movie bringing the beloved world of Charlie Brown and friends to life in last year’s animated hit, Garfield is about to get a similar treatment. Alcon Entertainment has acquired the film rights to the property, and they plan to turn it into a series of CG animated projects.
The news comes courtesy of THR, who say that John Cohen (Despicable Me, The Angry Birds Movie) will produce alongside Steven P. Wegner, and Alcon’s Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson. At this point, no director or screenwriter has become attached to the movie, though theoretically that could change soon.
In an era of translating well-known brands to feature films, it’s hard to get more recognizable than Garfield. The strip holds the Guinness World Record for most widely syndicated comic strip, having a readership of 260 million. Debuting in 1978, Garfield is a merchandising juggernaut, as several toys, games, and other products featuring the character are available. The fat cat is something of a comics icon and has widespread appeal, meaning a movie about him should be able to draw in audiences of all ages – just as Peanuts did in 2015.
Since Garfield is so early in development, there’s no telling what the story might entail. Chances are, however, mainstays such as Garfield’s owner Jon Arbuckle, Odie the dog, Nermal the kitten, and veterinarian Dr. Liz Wilson will be showcased in some capacity, as they were in the previous live-action films. It would be amusing for longtime fans if Lyman (Jon’s old roommate, who disappeared from the strip with no explanation) was included as well. He was featured in the cartoon series The Garfield Show over a four episode arc, but chances are Lyman won’t have a role in the new film. He’s been out of the public eye for too long now and hasn’t been a regular part of the comic since 1983.
Depending on who the producers secure to serve as the creative team, the Garfield movie could be a worthwhile family endeavor. The franchise has had great success in the animation format before, with seven seasons of the Garfield and Friends television program and numerous holiday specials under its belt. It will also be easier for the filmmakers to capture the tone and aesthetic of the strip using animation, which will hopefully lead to something that perfectly conveys what makes it special. It’s only a couple of more years until Garfield‘s 40th anniversary, and this would be a great way to celebrate the occasion.
We’ll keep you updated on the Garfield animated film as more information becomes available.