Dust off the lasagna dishes: Garfield is headed back to the big screen. Alcon Entertainment said today that it has gotten its paws on exclusive rights to produce toon features starring the original grumpy cat from his creator Jim Davis, who will also serve as an executive producer. Alcon’s goal is to build a franchise of CG-animated films based on the comics-spawned feline.
There have been two previous Garfield films, and the property has been licensed and merchandised around the globe for years. While it’s a well-branded property with established licensees, new movie merchandise based on the property will be a challenge. Garfield has also made multiple stops in film and TV along the way. In 2004, Garfield: The Movie debuted from Fox and grabbed $200M worldwide, with only 37% of that gross coming from domestic audiences. Two years later, Fox dropped Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties to $141.7M worldwide with its domestic audience at only 20% of the worldwide gross.
The key to a successful revival of the franchise might lie on the shoulders of John Cohen, who produced Angry Birds and the Despicable Me films, and Steven P. Wegner, who brought the project to Alcon. They will produce along with Alcon co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove. Bridget McMeel from Amuse will executive produce with Davis.
“Jim Davis’s creation has been an international sensation for all ages for decades, and we are thrilled to bring an animated Garfield feature to the big screen,” Johnson and Kosove said in a statement.
Davis’ Garfield comic debuted in June 1978 and follows the cynical and lazy orange cat and his interactions with his owner, Jon Arbuckle, and fellow pet Odie, the lovable dog. The strip appeared in 41 newspapers with an estimated readership of 260 million. Garfield holds the record for being the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world.
The rights deal was negotiated on behalf of Alcon by its COO Scott Parish and Senior VP of Business and Legal Affairs, Jeannette Hill.