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.
A new trailer and three new images for the animated sequel Despicable Me 2 have been released. Unlike the teaser, this trailer looks to have footage from the actual film. The marketing is unsurprisingly centered on those adorable little minions, but this trailer has a pretty cute Halloween bent in keeping with today’s festivities. It also may or may not hint at some sort of alien presence in the follow-up, but we really get very, very little by way of plot. Universal knows that the key to getting kids excited for the sequel is showing the minions getting into all sorts of goofy shenanigans—that’s why the they have their own spinoff film in the works.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer and images. The film features the voices of Steve Carell, Al Pacino, and Steve Coogan. Despicable Me 2 opens in 3D on July 3rd, 2013.
Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures spawned not one, but hopefully two new franchises with the release of 2010’s animated feature Despicable Me. A direct sequel, Despicable Me 2, is already set for release in July 2013, but Deadline now reports that the studios have quietly been working on a spinoff featuring those adorable/pesky little Minions. The spinoff feature is currently without a title, but Pierre Coffin (Despicable Me) will direct with Kyle Balda (The Lorax) acting as co-director. Brian Lynch (Hop, Puss in Boots) has already written the screenplay. Hit the jump for more.
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 wasn’t afraid to provide serious messages in his books. Not everything he wrote was Green Eggs and Ham (which, in all fairness, stresses the importance of trying new things). Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a moving story that could be read to anyone at any age and still be meaningful. The Lorax didn’t have the joy and humor of his other books but instead left its readers with a poignant message and dire warning. Illumination Entertainment’s big 3D CGI-animated adaptation could care less about either. The Lorax gives a begrudging nod towards environmentalism, a halfhearted tip of the hat to Dr. Seuss, and then pours all of its energy into being hip and funny but succeeded at neither.
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:
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.
Yet another cartoon character is headed to the big screen, this time in the form of Woody Woodpecker. Universal’s Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind Despicable Me and the upcoming Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, is apparently developing a new feature film centering on the character. Heat Vision reports that screenwriters John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky (Blades of Glory) are in talks to develop a story for the feature film, which is said to be a modernized iteration of the character with franchise potential. The character was created in 1940 and was brought to life in theatrical short films by renowned voice actor Mel Blanc.
The last big entertainment vehicle for Woody Woodpecker came with the Fox Kids series The New Woody Woodpecker Show, which aired from 1999-2002. I was never especially taken by the character, but Illumination has done some fine work so far (and I’m eagerly awaiting The Lorax), so if they want to develop their own take on Woody, more power to them. Hit the jump to watch the 1942 Woody Woodpecker cartoon The Hollywood Matador.
The first trailer for The Lorax has gone online. Directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me), the film is based on the classic Dr. Seuss enviromentally-conscious children’s book that centers on a boy who is searching for the one thing that will win him the girl of his dreams. In order to find it, he must learn the story of The Lorax, a creature whose world is in danger. As you’ll see in the trailer, there’s the unmistakable Suessian architecture and it certainly looks colorful enough. But there are little things in this trailer that are making me a bit nervous about the film. The framing device shows a bright and colorful world so the Once-ler chopping down all the trees hasn’t been too much of a problem. Also, while I understand it’s a family film that wants to play up the comedy, I hope the Lorax’s message won’t be diminished by making him a creature of fun rather than a bearer of grave warnings.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer along with ten high resolution images . The film features the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, and Betty White. The Lorax opens in 3D on March 2nd, 2012.
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].
Johnny Depp is developing a Dr. Seuss biopic through his production banner Infinitum Nihil in collaboration with Illumination Entertainment. Risky Business says Depp is producing “with the potential to star as Seuss.” I am not sure where this falls on the spectrum of attachment, so please keep your expectations—be they positive or negative—in check.
Illumination is currently animating the finishing touches on an adaptation of one of Seuss’s books, The Lorax, for a March 2, 2012 release. The biopic, however, will be live-action. Mostly, at least. The studio did not rule out incorporating some animation into Keith Bunin’s screenplay. Universal—another studio with Seuss experience bringing How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat to the big screen—will distribute the movie. Depp’s Infinitum partner Christi Dembrowski as well as Illumination’s Christopher Meledandri and David Kennedy are also on board as producers. More, including background on the life of Theodor Seuss Geisel, after the jump.
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: