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Illumination Entertainment, the company responsible for Despicable Me and The Lorax, announced this week that it will produce a CGI remake of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The book has been adapted into film multiple times, most famously by Chuck Jones in a 1966 TV special (pictured above).
The new feature, which has no release date or writer yet, will be directed by Pete Candeland, who is best known for directing the Gorillaz music videos.
Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri produced his first Dr. Seuss project, Blue Sky’s Horton Hears a Who!, while he was the head of Fox Feature Animation. In addition to the Grinch project, Melendandri is developing a CG adaptation of Seuss’s Cat in the Hat and a live-action Dr. Seuss biopic.
Illumination Entertainment’s The Lorax exceeded expectations and debuted in first place with a stunning $70.2 million last weekend. That places it in eighth place for all-time biggest openings for an animated film, and fourth-best for a non-sequel animated film. The success of the film validates the producer-driven approach to animated filmmaking taken by Illumination head Chris Meledandri, who exercises tight control over the casting, writing and creative direction of his films. It’s a page straight of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks playbook and, for better or worse, Meledandri is proving that it can work for producers without the initials JK.
Meanwhile, in its third weekend, Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty grabbed $1.5 million from 1,431 US theaters. The film landed in 14th place, but had the lowest per-theater average of any film in the top 20. Its US total now stands at $16.8 million.
Today, Toy Story 3 surpassed Finding Nemo as the top grossing domestic Pixar feature. However, as Box Office Mojo points out, “it will still rank in the bottom half in terms of estimated attendance.” In other words, an evening at the movies in the United States increasingly becomes an elitist activity for middle and upper-class audiences who can afford to pay inflated prices.
The big surprise at the box office was the stellar debut of Despicable Me which opened with an estimated $60.1 million. Even the most generous estimates pegged this in the $30-40 million range. Score one for producer-driven Katzenberg-style filmmaking. Looks like this won’t be the last we hear from Chris Meledandri and Illumination.
Actor Danny DeVito will voice an orange environmentalist in an animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss‘ beloved book, The Lorax. The film joins a long list of Seuss adaptations: The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Horton Hears a Who.
Someone on the Chinese video site Sina posted this work-in-progress trailer for The Lorax from Illumination Entertainment, whose earlier films were Despicable Me and Hop. Some shots are incomplete and unfinished, but it’s worth a look:
The Lorax, which is slated to open March 2nd, 2012, is directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda. It’s the second Seuss adapation for Illumination founder Chris Meledandri, who previously produced Horton Hears a Who! while running 20th Century Fox Animation. Danny DeVito voices the Lorax, and Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms and Betty White provide additional voices.
Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs claims that President Obama’s “liberal friends in Hollywood” are “targeting a younger demographic using animated movies to sell their agenda to children.” He cites Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty and Illumination Entertainment’s upcoming The Lorax as evidence of this indoctrination. One of Dobbs’s guests claims that these films are creating a generation of Occutoddlers, referring to the Occupy Wall Street movement which these films allegedly promote.
Of course, I wouldn’t put it past Fox that they’d try to stick it to Chris Meledandri, who runs Illumination and is a competitor of Fox in the animation market. After all, Meledandri used to run 20th Century Fox Animation and oversaw the earlier Dr. Seuss animated adaptation, Horton Hears a Who!, which was distributed by Fox.