It looks like Hollywood is about to get a lot bigger, redder, and a whole lot furrier in the near future. As the real big dog on campus, Clifford, is about to make his presence known.
A man and his dog tales are as old as storytelling itself and have a long history at the movies. Whether it's Marley and Me, Turner and Hooch, or How To Train Your Dragon (think about it for a second), the sub-genre has always seemed to have a special place in the hearts of audiences. Now Paramount Pictures is getting into the dog business in the largest way possible.
As reported by Deadline, Paramount Pictures has nabbed the film rights to the Clifford the Big Red Dog book series. The studio acquired said film rights from Universal - which had the movie in development for years. However, due to changes in leadership and other factors, the project never got off of the ground. Fortunately, it looks like every dog will have its day at the theaters. As Paramount has begun their own development of the popular children's property, with screenwriter Justin Malen getting a crack at the script for the movie.
The first Clifford the Big Red Dog book was created in 1963 by Norman Bridwell, which progressively altered the "boy and his dog" formula. It featured eight year old Emily Elizabeth, who is given an adorable, tiny red puppy, Clifford. However, much to everyone's surprise, Clifford doesn't stop growing until he is 25 feet tall. The enormous red dog has the soul of a gentle giant, while most of his adventures revolve around the problematic nature of his size. The movie is expected to be live-action, with Clifford being brought to life with CGI.
The books are targeted for elementary school readers, so the stories were rather tame and linear. With titles like, Clifford Follows His Nose and Clifford Gets a Job, it would appear that Malen will have his work cut out for him adapting it for the big-screen. The screenwriter has been keeping busy of late, leaving his fingerprints on such upcoming projects as Bastards and Baywatch, so it seems that he is riding quite a wave of momentum. However with upcoming releases such as Pete's Dragon on the horizon, it would make sense for Paramount to strike while the iron is hot (as far as movies about friendships between human children and giant CGI characters go).
Clifford the Big Red Dog, the movie, will no doubt be targeted primarily at children. Hopefully, the movie eventually falls closer to Paddington, than The Chipmunks, in that respect. Clifford definitely has a unique hook and a lot of inherent fun built into its own premise. So, if whoever is brought on to direct can capture that feeling of fun, then they just might be onto something big themselves.
Clifford the Big Red Dog currently does not have a set release date.