Warner Bros. is developing a new animated version of Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat. This is just the first of several projects the studio plans to tackle under a new deal with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Universal and Illumination had tried to get an animated Cat in the Hat off the ground back in 2012, but nothing came together. However, Illumination will release a new animated take on Seuss' The Grinch this year with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the title character.
Dr. Seuss' original The Cat in the Hat was first published in 1957. The children's book concerns what happens when the titular hat-wearing cat arrives to entertain a pair of bored kids on a rainy day. The cat's antics result in escalating Seussian chaos. An animated musical version of the story came to television in 1971 with Allan Sherman voicing the cat. In 2003, Universal spent $100 million bringing a live-action version to movie screens, starring Mike Myers.
THR reports that Warner Bros. will kick off their new partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises by developing an animated Cat in the Hat. In the words of Warners chairman Toby Emmerich, the Seuss partnership allows the studio to "continue our move into world-class, wide-appeal animated fare." Warners now begins their search for a writer to tackle the script.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises president Susan Brandt mentioned her desire to re-imagine beloved Seuss characters while "keeping the integrity of Dr. Seuss’s vision intact.” One could argue that Universal's 2003 Cat in the Hat did anything but keep the integrity of Seuss' vision intact. The live-action version starring Mike Myers must have entertained someone as it made $133 million worldwide. But today the film is mostly remembered for being creepy and off-putting. Universal's previous live-action Seuss adaptation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, did much better with a worldwide gross of $345 million. Jim Carrey's performance as the Grinch may have been off-putting, but at least that character is meant to be unpleasant at first.
All we've learned from live-action Seuss is that Seuss should probably always remain animated. Later this year, we'll get that new computer animated Grinch from Illumination, the same studio that made The Lorax. But it sounds as though Warner Bros. will own Dr. Seuss after that. Warner Animation Group indeed finds itself on a bit of a roll after a string of successful LEGO movies. Last year alone saw the release of The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie. LEGO Batman proved especially successful, grossing $310 million. In addition to The Cat in the Hat, Warners' animation wing also has Teen Titans Go! to the Movies and Smallfoot upcoming. Other future projects include The LEGO Movie Sequel, the LEGO spinoff film The Billion Brick Race, Scooby and (maybe, finally) The Jetsons.