Everybody's favorite lasagna-loving cat is coming back to theaters, with an all new movie in the works. From Alcon Entertainment, a fully animated movie based on Garfield is moving forward with production, finding its director in Chicken Little's Mark Dindal. Alcon had previously bought the rights to Garfield from creator Jim Davis, who will be serving as an executive producer along with Amuse's Bridget McMeel. Despicable Me's John Cohen and Dolphin Tale 2's Stephen P. Wegner will also be producing with Alcon's own Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson. The screenplay was written by the team of Paul Kaplan and Mark Torgove.
Garfield has been around for forty years, first debuting in a comic strip back in 1978. The series followed an overweight and lazy cat named Garfield, along with his cartoonist owner Jon Arbuckle and Odie, a fellow pet dog. Currently, Garfield holds the world record for being the most widely syndicated comic strip. In addition to the Garfield feature films to come from Fox, there have been multiple television adaptations based on Garfield as well. Perhaps by going in another direction than the previous movies, this film rebirth will end up producing better results with filmgoers and critics.
Alcon's plan is for this upcoming movie to be the first in a new franchise of CG-animated films based on creator Jim Davis' Monday-hating feline. It will have no relation to the previous feature films, both of which were live-action films with an animated Garfield. For Fox, Peter Hewitt released Garfield: The Movie in 2004, starring Bill Murray as the titular cat, Breckin Meyer as Jon Arbuckle, and Jennifer Love Hewitt as veterinarian Liz Wilson. After grossing $200 million worldwide, a sequel was soon to follow in the form of the 2006 film, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. That movie earned $141 million worldwide against its $60 million budget.
While profitable, both of these Garfield movies have been highly criticized. Bill Murray famously took a dig at them during his cameo scene in Zombieland, in which the actor played himself. When a series of unfortunate events left Murray dying, he was ask if he had any regrets. "Garfield, maybe," was his response, which isn't a flattering thing to hear from the actual person who provided the voice of the titular cat. He's not alone with his opinion, however, considering the first movie scored a measly 15% rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the sequel faring even worse at 11%.
Pre-production on the film is set to begin next month. If we can deduce anything from the other movies, perhaps it's that the live-action Garfield experiment didn't quite work. Featuring a completely new animated style for this movie will help separate it from the Fox movies, which can only help the project. There's not currently an official release date attached, but that information is likely to be coming soon after production on the film begins. This information comes to us from Variety.