Here's an easy question: when your $70 million computer-animated adaptation of a Dr. Seuss book grosses around twice its budget in the first two weeks of theatrical release alone, what's your next move? Make another 3D animated film adaptation based on a different illustrated children's book written by the famous "doctor" Theodor Geisel, of course.
That is exactly what Illumination Entertainment staple Chris Meledandri and Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel are planning to do, having found success by bringing both The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who! (the latter over at Fox Animation) to life in bright and shiny 3D animated form. Now, the pair are giving The Cat in the Hat that same treatment.
The Cat in the Hat is not only one of the more famous Seuss stories, but was also previously made into a TV short in 1971 - and brought to the big screen in the form of a 2003 live-action Mike Myers comedy vehicle. While the latter flick did decent business from a financial perspective, it failed to reach anywhere near the box office heights of the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie from a few years earlier. Not to mention, Cat in the Hat was so critically-reviled as to essentially kill any plans for future Seuss adaptations that do not arrive in the form of a family-friendly animated feature.
Deadline has confirmed that The Cat in the Hat will get a second chance at cinematic life, with the creative minds over at Illumination Entertainment holding the reins. Scripting duties on the project have already been assigned to Rob Lieber, an up-and-comer who recently penned two in-development (and elaborately titled) children's picture book adaptations: Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and Jeremy Cabbage and the Living Museum of Human Oddballs and Quadrupled Delights.
Passing over its box office achievements, The Lorax has been greeted with something of a mixed-to-positive reception overall - with moviegoers being somewhat split about whether the film's "bells and whistles" (ie. pop musical numbers, "hip" comedy, etc.) ultimately do the thoughtful story at its core more harm than good. That was the major issue raised in our official Lorax review, which still ultimately deemed the movie to be a good family flick, in spite of those problems.
It's all worth mentioning because the formula used in producing The Lorax will undoubtedly be recycled for The Cat in the Hat. However, if the personnel working behind the scenes ease back a bit on going overboard with making the latter Seuss adaptation marketable to the juice box crowd - and instead aim to truly do justice by the original story - then we could end up with a Seuss movie that's more universally adored.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of The Cat in the Hat as the story develops.