A feature film adaptation of the popular Clifford the Big Red Dog childrens book series is moving right along, but not without a slight change. When the project was first announced, Universal Pictures planned to make the film in concert with the animated company Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me, The Lorax). Now The Wrap reports that, though Universal is still moving forward with the pic, Illumination has dropped off and Chris Meledandri is no longer producing. This might have something to do with the fact that the feature is now being envisioned as a live-action project, with the titular dog being the only CG-animated portion (as with Ted and Paul).
Nevertheless, movement continues as David Bowers is now in talks to direct from a script by Matt Lopez. Bowers previously helmed the animated features Flushed Away and Astro Boy, as well as two live-action Diary of a Wimpy Kid sequels. No word on when Clifford might hit theaters, but one imagines it could see a release as early as 2015.
Universal Pictures is taking another stab at the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Over a decade after Ron Howard’s live-action film starring Jim Carrey, Universal and Illumination Entertainment—the studio behind Despicable Me—are developing an animated adaptation of the classic childrens book. Peter Candeland is set to direct, and Illumination’s Chris Melendandri will produce with Seuss’ widow Audrey Geisel onboard as an executive producer. Hit the jump for more details.
Illumination Entertainment has only produced two animated films thus far (I’m discounting Hop), but they were both massive hits at the box office. Despicable Me kicked things off in 2010 (Despicable Me 2 opens next year), and earlier this year they scored big with The Lorax. The studio recently put a Cat in the Hat animated feature in development, and now they’re adding a non-Seuss feature to their development slate. Heat Vision reports that Illumination and Universal will bring an adaptation of Clifford the Big Red Dog to the big screen.
Matt Lopez (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) has been tapped to write the screenplay, and Chris Meledandri will produce for Illumination alongside Deborah Forte from Scholastic Media. For those deprived of a childhood, Clifford follows a young girl named Emily Elizabeth and her 25-foot-tall dog. Norman Bridwell authored the first Clifford book in 1963 and the character has been a staple of childrens books ever since, expanding into a television series in 2000. Hit the jump for a clip from the TV show.
Following the massive box office success of their adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, Illumination Entertainment is moving forward with another animated take on a Seuss classic. Deadline reports that Illumination’s Chris Meledandri and Audrey Geisel (the widow of Theodore, aka Dr. Seuss) will begin developing a 3D CG-animated iteration of The Cat in the Hat. The book was infamously adapted in 2003 as a truly terrible live-action feature starring Mike Meyers, so I’d say a new version of The Cat in the Hat will be welcomed with open arms by audiences and Seuss fans. I was largely disappointed by The Lorax, and I really hope The Cat in the Hat is made more along the lines of Horton Hears a Who (which Meledandri made at Fox). The Lorax felt cluttered by pop songs and inorganic, cheap kids jokes, but I doubt they’ll veer from that formula given that the film is poised to make major money at the box office.
The next film from Illumination Entertainment will be Despicable Me 2, which opens next year. Meledandri is also developing a biopic about Geisel with Johnny Depp attached to star. They’re planning to infuse the film with both live-action and animated characters. Rob Lieber will write the script for The Cat in the Hat. Hit the jump to watch the trailer for the Mike Myers version.
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (opening in theaters on March 2nd), is the beloved children’s story that’s also its author’s favorite work. The 3D-CG animated adaptation is an adventure that follows the journey of idealistic 12-year-old Ted (voiced by Zac Efron) while he searches for a real Truffula Tree for Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift), in order to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find one, he must learn the story of the Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito) from the enigmatic and bitter old hermit, known as the Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms), who let the temptation of greed and success get the better of him.
At the film’s press day, producer Chris Meledandri (founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment) spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how and when he first became aware of the work of Dr. Seuss, the challenge of adding original songs to The Lorax, and how much he’s enjoyed working with Audrey Geisel to protect the Dr. Seuss legacy. He also talked about the development of the live-action film Illumination is doing on the life of Theodor Geisel, the man behind the work of Dr. Seuss, that is being produced by Johnny Depp (who will possibly star in the lead role), the plan to do a mix of live-action with the animated characters of his creation, and how they are currently working on the animation for Despicable Me 2, with Al Pacino making his animated feature debut as the villain. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, the beloved children’s story that’s also its author’s favorite work, opens in theaters on March 2nd. To promote the film’s release, Collider got to participate in the press junket and sit down with producer Chris Meledandri (founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment).
While we will run what he had to say about the film, closer to its release date, we did want to share what he had to say about the development of the live-action film Illumination is doing on the life of Theodor Geisel, the man behind the work of Dr. Seuss, that is being produced by Johnny Depp, who will possibly star in the lead role. Meledandri said that he takes the protection of the Seuss legacy very serious and will not move forward with the film until they believe it’s right, and that they are planning for it do include a mix of the animated characters of his creation. He also said they’ve just started animating Despicable Me 2, and how excited they are to have Al Pacino making his animated feature debut as the villain. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
This past week brought us a story that is near and dear to me. While I briefly give my own thoughts regarding DC Comics’ Watchmen prequel comic series after the jump, I want to use the “Top 5′s” opening paragraph space to invite readers to voice/type their own opinions on the announcement in the comments section. As a fervent fan of the series, I’m always interested to hear fellow fans’ take on Watchmen adaptations, prequels, and the like. So, with that said, what do you think? Does the creative talent involved interest you? Is it the best idea ever? The worst? Somewhere in between? Sound off in the comments.
In addition to DC’s Before Watchmen announcement, this installment of the “Top 5″ includes interviews with the cast and director of superhero/found-footage pic Chronicle, a “What If?” look at a 16-Bit Breaking Bad RPG, ten things to know about Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, and Sundance 2012 video interviews with Bradley Cooper, Paul Dano and more. A brief recap and link to each follows after the jump.
Back in October, Collider was invited to Illumination Entertainment in Santa Monica, in order to preview some footage of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. As a lifelong fan of the Dr. Seuss stories, and some of my earliest memories being connected to them, I was excited to get a glimpse of what audiences will get to see, when the film opens in theaters on March 2nd. In an office surrounded by character merchandise and sculptures, it’s easy to see that producer Chris Meledandri is as much of a fan of the Dr. Seuss legacy as the audiences who love the work, generation after generation. Something about the stories of Dr. Seuss makes the reader or viewer feel like a kid again, and makes kids feel a sense of wonder, and The Lorax will clearly be no exception.
In case you’re not familiar with the story of The Lorax, the 3D-CG feature is an adaptation of the classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope. As a 12-year-old boy goes on a journey in search of the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams, he discovers the story of the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. Hit the jump for 10 things to know about The Lorax, our interview with Chris Meledandri, and our thoughts on the footage we saw.
The first image of the eco-unfriendly Once-ler from the 3D CGI adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax has gone online. In the book, the Once-ler’s face is never seen, probably because he’s meant as a stand-in for everyone responsible for abusing our natural resources (he’s also meant as a stand-in for all those bastards with spindly green arms). But EW reports that in the new movie, “he’s a misguided, fresh-faced young man (voiced by Ed Helms), whose destructive actions warp not only his world, but eventually himself.” That actually sounds kind of neat and reassuringly tragic. Keep in mind that while Dr. Seuss’ book is filled with rhymes and colorful images, it ends where the only hope is a one-word message carved into a tree stump.
Hit the jump for a first look at the Once-ler and an explanation of how Illumination Entertainment came up with the design. The film also features the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, and Betty White. The Lorax opens in 3D on March 2, 2012. [Update: We've updated the article with high resolution versions of the images].
Chris Meledandri and his Illumination Entertainment banner have acquired the film rights for the cult plush doll line Uglydoll. The label responsible for films like Despicable Me and Hop will team up with Universal Pictures in bringing the line to the big screen. When discussing the acquisition with Deadline, Meledandri said of the Uglydoll franchise (created by the husband and wife team of David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim):
“I remember the immediate appeal and connection that the characters had for me. They are simple in design, expressive in personality, and once I got to know David and Sun-Min, I learned there was a mythology and a world behind this,” he said. “The personality and level of wit reminded me of the illustrated work I saw from Matt Groening before he did The Simpsons.”
Scribe Larry Stuckey (Little Fockers) will pen the Uglydoll script for Illumination purportedly using the doll’s mythology as inspiration for the feature. While I’m sure the Uglydoll brand is unique, I’m going to play the part of skeptic and say that neither Illumination or Universal are quite as interested in its rich characters as they are its already established merchandising base and instant marketability. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in learning more about the Uglydoll line, you can click here to check out the official site.
With Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s Hop opening April 1, I was able to sit down with Christopher Meledandri (CEO of Illumination) earlier today for an extended interview. As most of you know, Illumination’s first movie, Despicable Me, went on to earn over five hundred and twenty seven million dollars at the worldwide box office. Not bad for a film that had no build in audience.
Over the past year, Illumination has been developing a number of projects and towards the end of my interview, I asked Meledandri about each of them. So if you’re curious about the status of Curious George, Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation adaptation of The Addams Family, Ricky Gervais’ Flanimals, The Lorax, and the Despicable Me sequel, hit the jump:
Universal Pictures has released seven clips from director Tim Hill’s (Alvin and the Chipmunks) CG/live-action family film, Hop. The film, which comes from Illumination Entertainment (the same company that made Despicable Me), stars James Marsden (Enchanted) as a slacker who finds himself taking care of the Easter Bunny (voiced by Russel Brand) after he accidentally injures him. Hop also stars (or features the voice of) Kaley Cuoco, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, David Hasselhoff, Chelsea Handler, Hank Azaria and Hugh Laurie. Hit the jump to check out the clips:
Danny DeVito will voice the title character in Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. In a statement to USA Today, Illumination head Chris Meledandri said of DeVito, “Danny has this wonderful ability to be acerbic and grouchy but at the same time absolutely lovable. It’s almost like Walter Matthau had. His comedic edge was very sharp, but he always maintained that warmth.” Apparently, Melendandri has never seen an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or he’s just really hoping that you haven’t. I am constantly amazed at how gross they’re willing to make his DeVito’s character, Frank Reynolds. However, since DeVito is only voicing the character, perhaps it won’t be so easy to envision his disgusting Sunny antics.
Hit the jump to learn about what roles Zac Efron, Betty White, Ed Helms, and Rob Riggle will be playing in the 3D animated film.
Universal has a theoretically valuable property on its hands in the classic children’s book series Curious George. But so far the potential franchise has only produced the moderately successful 2006 animated feature ($58 million domestic) and a direct-to-DVD sequel. Enter Chris Meledandri and Illumination Entertainment, who laid the groundwork for cartoon success at Universal with this summer’s Despicable Me ($175 million domestic and counting).
24 Frames reports that Illumination will spearhead a reboot of the Curious George franchise, with Larry Stuckey (Little Fockers) writing the script. In case your childhood was relatively George-free, brush up on the history of the mischevious monkey after the jump.
People who enjoyed last weekend’s top-grossing film Despicable Me will be pleased to know that talks are already underway for Despicable Me 2. Deadline reports that Universal Pictures, Illumination (Universal’s family film division) founder/CEO Chris Meledandri, and writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio have begun discussions about a sequel. Despicable‘s $56 million opening weekend was notable when you consider that there was no built-in audience. Now it has built an audience, Universal is grabbing hold of a new brand they can develop.
Part of developing that brand entails the creation of two new short films featuring the adorable yellow minions of Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), Despicable Me‘s supervillain protagonist. It is currently unknown whether these short films will be shown in front of future Illumination features a la Pixar, or if they’ll be distributed in another fashion.