Alcon Entertainment has recruited animation veteran Mark Dindal to direct an animated film adaptation of the long-running Garfield comic strip. The project has been in the works since 2016 and is currently based on a script by writing duo Paul A. Kaplan and Mark Torgove (Raising Hope, Dr. Ken).
The Garfield comic strip was created by Jim Davis back in 1978 and is still going strong today, forty years later. Of course, it helps that, during that time, the brand has expanded well beyond its newspaper roots and launched multiple cartoon TV series, video games, CGI-animated direct to video movies, and even two relatively infamous live-action/CGI hybrid films (featuring Bill Murray as the voice of the often grouchy, lasagna-loving, orange feline). However, the property has yet to make the jump to the big screen in purely animated form - which brings us back to Alcon's Garfield adaptation.
According to Deadline, Alcon's Garfield film has set Dindal to direct, with John Cohen (Despicable Me, The Angry Birds Movie) and Steven P. Wegner (Dolphin Tale 2) onboard to produce. The movie doesn't have a release date yet but, given that it's been in development for at least two years by now, it could plausibly reach theaters by 2020 or 2021, at the earliest.
Dindal's previous directorial credits include the cult 1997 2D animated Classical Hollywood comedy Cats Don't Dance and semi-cult 2000 Disney animated feature film The Emperor's New Groove. Curiously enough, the filmmaker's biggest box office hit to date (his 3D animated 2005 Disney feature Chicken Little) was also his least well-received critically. More recently, Dindal was attached to direct Me and My Shadow, a DreamWorks project that was striving to combine traditional 2D and computer animation in an unprecedented fashion. Unfortunately, however, that film was cancelled after NBCUniversal acquired DreamWorks Animation back in 2016 (along with several other in-development projects).
While Alcon's Garfield project is reportedly a computer-animated film, it's certainly possible the movie's animators will strive to carry over the original comic strip's 2D character designs into 3D (a la what The Peanuts Movie did for the Charlie Brown comics). The live-action Garfield films, admittedly, didn't exactly set a high bar for Alcon's animated movie to clear, but Dindal's involvement is encouraging and his quirky animated comedy style ought to serve the project well - as should his knack for crafting enjoyably unheroic protagonists (a la Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove). Who knows: third time might well prove to be the charm for the Garfield movies.
We will bring you more details on the animated Garfield movie as they become available.