Cat in the Hat movie

Prepare yourselves: an onslaught of animated Dr. Seuss movies could very well be coming your way.

A new report states that Warner Animation Group has signed a deal with Dr. Seuss Enterprises that will allow the company to produce “a series of films” based on the works of the legendary children’s author, and the first one on the docket is a new take on the The Cat in the Hat. No word yet on whether they’ll try to lure Mike Myers to reprise the role from that bizarre live-action 2003 interpretation.

The Hollywood Reporter has the story, relaying that the animation division of Warner Bros. Pictures has put a new The Cat in the Hat movie in development, but no writer or director are on board yet. Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich provided this quote:

“Our Pictures Group is home to some of the world’s most popular film franchises, and we’re honored to add Dr. Seuss titles to that roster. With Warner Animation Group, we’ve really revitalized our feature animation activities, and this partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises will continue our move into world-class, wide-appeal animated fare.”

Not long ago, Warner Bros. established the concept of entertainment “silos” –  brands like Harry Potter, LEGO, and DC properties that the studio should be able to rely on for big box office returns. With Disney acquiring Fox (pending regulatory approval) and not all of the live-action DC movies pulling in the kind of money the studio expected, it makes sense that they’d make a play for a new “silo.” Animated family fare is about as reliable as it gets in terms of box office prospects: there are always going to be parents who need to take their kids to the movies to take a breather, and Dr. Seuss adaptations seem like they’ll be a much better option than another Minions movie.

You may recall that there’s already a new Dr. Seuss adaptation in the works that’s scheduled to come out later this year: Illumination Entertainment’s The Grinch (with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the title character) will be distributed by Universal on November 9, 2018. Illumination also produced The Lorax a few years ago, so it seemed as if they were going to be the go-to company for making Seuss movies in the future. But something must have changed, because this deal indicates that WB will now be the exclusive home for new Seuss projects.

Also worth pointing out: a spokesman for Dr. Seuss Enterprises says the new partnership will involve “reimagining the beloved characters and stories for theater-going audiences, while keeping the integrity of Dr. Seuss’s vision intact.” Does the word “reimagining” in this context mean that they’ll be shying away from more direct adaptations of Seuss’s work? That’s unclear at the moment, but there’s good news for anyone who may be a bit wary about all this: Allison Abbate is overseeing the project for Warner Animation Group. She’s the executive vice president of the division, and a producer who’s worked with filmmakers like Wes Anderson (on The Fantastic Mr. Fox), Brad Bird (on The Iron Giant), and Tim Burton (on The Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie). She oversaw The LEGO Movie and has a very strong track record, so here’s hoping she can facilitate the best version of The Cat in the Hat possible for whoever ends up directing.

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