Growing up, before you started reading comic books or watching action movies, odds are you experienced the words of Dr. Seuss. Well, in the upcoming years, Dr. Seuss will join those popular genres on the big screen as his stories get their very own cinematic universe from Warner Bros. Animation.
Things will begin in 2024 with a new adaptation of Seuss’s well-loved classic The Cat in the Hat. That’ll be followed in 2026 by the tentatively titled Thing One and Thing Two, following the popular characters from Cat in the Hat, and 2027 will bring the first-ever adaptation of Seuss’ aspirational tale, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, which is being produced by J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot.
“Seuss builds worlds,” Allison Abbate, executive vice president of Warner Animation Group, told Vanity Fair, which broke the story. “There are so many questions that he posits, which is why we can read and reread those stories. It has been exciting for us to think about it as world-building and not just a single story.”
In the past, Seuss adaptations have been…average, to be kind about it. The Cat in the Hat became a poorly received 2003 live-action movie starring Mike Myers. How the Grinch Stole Christmas has had both live-action and animated adaptations. The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who! have been animated. And yet, none of these films have resonated like the books themselves. Since all of them were done separately from each other, though, they’ll have no bearing on what’s to come.
“For the first time we’re not just doing one film for one book. We’re going to franchise-build beyond the initial story of these books and find out what happens next,” Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, told Vanity Fair. “I call it stretching the fabric. How far can it go, to go a little bit deeper with our characters.”
With the movies so far out at the moment, there isn’t much in the way of news beyond that. Cat in the Hat does have its directors though: Erica Rivinoja (South Park) and Art Hernandez (Planes). New teams will make the other films, and Abrams, along with his head of motion pictures, Hannah Minghella, have begun looking at writers for the Oh, the Places adaptation.
Unlike, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the point here isn’t for all the characters to cross over and meet. That’s hypothetically possible, but not the aim. The films will all just feel similar thematically and visually, much like the work of Dr. Seuss — the pen name of Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel, who died in 1991 after a long literary career; to date, his books have sold some 600 million copies — itself.
“Our goal would be to mirror the way Ted did his portfolio of books,” she added. “The colour palettes are different, the architecture is different, but you look at those and go, ‘That’s a Dr. Seuss book.’ If we properly translate Ted’s characters and his messaging, each one creates a different story, but it’s still Seuss DNA. That’s what we’re going to go try to do.”
Head over to Vanity Fair for even more on the Seussiverse.