Marvel Studios arguably did it first, and now other studios are looking for new franchises to turn into a universe of interconnected works, preferably cinematic. Alternatively they might take an existing IP with a self-contained setting (“Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones”) and look to expand them into a “true” verse. TV/cinematic universes are the thing, and the race is on to find the right franchise as source material. The Warner Animation Group has their finger on one IP in particular, the creations of children’s author-illustrator Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. While some of his whimsical rhyming books have had adaptations before, this time there will be a universe.
Vanity Fair has it that Warner Animation Group has inked a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprise, keepers of the estate of the late Dr. Seuss who passed away in 1991. The fruit will be a “Seuss-verse” that will start with a new animated film for an iconic Seuss character, “The Cat in the Hat” which is scheduled for release 2024. It will be followed by a spinoff featuring two supporting characters from the aforementioned film/book, “Thing 1 & Thing 2.” And then a Seuss book that has never been adapted will get a turn: “Oh! The Places You Can Go!”
Dr. Seuss Enterprise president Susan Brandt notes how the films of the Seuss-verse will be built beyond the limited scope of the original books’ narratives. By “stretching the fabric” as it were, the movies can then dig more into the personalities of the many quirky characters within. Allison Abate, executive VP for the Warner Animation Group, adds that this is in the spirit of the author Seuss in the way he builds worlds. One caveat is that barring direct sequels, the Seuss-verse films will not actually tie into each other story-wise like the MCU, but will universally be “styled Seuss.”
“While it will all feel like part of the Seuss universe, they live in their worlds, and they’re not necessarily going to interact in the same films,” explains Brandt. The studio will instead focus on the common elements Dr. Seuss employed in his books, as Brandt puts it, “The color palettes are different, the architecture is different, but you look at those and go, ‘That’s a Dr. Seuss book.’” Among the directors and producers Warner has reached out to for the Seuss-verse are J.J Abrams, Art Hernandez of Disney, Erica Rivinoja of “South Park,” and Hanna Minghella of Bad Robot.
“The Cat in the Hat” has been adapted several times in big and small screens, including a 2003 live-action take with Mike Myers as the titular cat. Other Seuss films include “The Grinch,” “Horton Hears a Who,” and “The Lorax.”
Image courtesy of Slash Film