Universal Goes Green With An Adaptation Of The Lorax

The latest Dr. Suess tale to go before cameras (or, in this case, rendering software) will be The Lorax, as Variety reports that Universal has started work on a 3D animated feature based on the book. Chris Meledandri is heading up the project for the Universal family film division Illumination Entertainment. Meledandri was the guy who got the last Suess movie adaptation, Horton Hears a Who!, to work while at Fox. That movie was better than anyone had reason to expect it might be, so perhaps the same alchemy will work on The Lorax.

Dr. Suess first published The Lorax in 1971. The book features a story within a story, where a man called the Once-ler tells a boy how he was mesmerized by giant forests of tufted Triffula trees, and how he chopped one down to create an object that everyone needs. The Lorax emerges from the stump of the tree to protest the Once-ler's action, but soon the man is cutting down the entire forest to feed his business, and pollution reigns. But eventually the forest is gone and the Once-ler's business dies, and he's left with the Lorax among his decrepit factories. Not much ambiguity there, and the book has even faced opposition from the logging industry, which claimed that it was unfairly representing the business. That's worthy of note only because if Universal is going to sink a bajillion dollars into creating a family film based on the story they won't want any such controversy to spring up. Wonder if anything will be changed?

As with so many of the most notable Dr. Suess books, The Lorax has previously been adapted into animated form. The first version was a television special released in 1972, with production design by the great Maurice Noble and the voice talents of Eddie Albert and Bob Holt. You can see the first few minutes of that version embedded below.