Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 by Russ Fischer
How well-known is Felix the Cat of late? In the US, maybe not so much. Los Angeles residents know him thanks to the sign for Felix Chevrolet on S. Figeuroa St, which has stood for over fifty years. If you’re in that part of town, it’s difficult to miss. For everyone else, Felix still has a recognizable mug, even if the number of people who have actually seen one of the character’s animated shorts is somewhat small. And in some countries, he still enjoys a level of popularity he hasn’t had in the States for decades.
Call Felix a triumph of design, then, as his face has enough staying power to inspire Dreamworks Animation to invest in it. The company has picked up all rights to make new Felix the Cat animation. How they’ll exercise that right remains to be seen.
At the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas this week, DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg explained (via Variety) that the company had brought Felix into the fold.
Today, DreamWorks has acquired all rights to Felix the Cat. Felix really goes beyond evergreen status and rises to something even more uncommon, as he is a true icon. We plan to make him one of the most desired fashion brands in the world.
How will they do that? Well, Mickey Mouse is a huge fashion brand thanks to his own iconic status. And Felix, who has perhaps persisted as more of a visual icon than an actual character, could perhaps be returned to some sort of prominence, especially in markets outside the US.
How? We don’t know, and Katzenberg didn’t talk about plans for movies or TV. Felix has already enjoyed a life in both — he’s got a complicated production history, in fact. Several actors have voiced Felix, and many different teams of producers and artists have been responsible for animating him over almost 100 years.
(One of the Felix animated shows, from the ’50s, was owned by Classic Media, which was bought by Dreamworks Animation in 2012. But the core rights to Felix remained in the hands of his original family.)
Here are a couple Felix cartoons, from the ’30s and ’50s: