The Cat In The Hat

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  • Directed By: Bo Welch
  • Written By: Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer
  • Release Date: November 21, 2003
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston

Box Office Info:
Budget: $109 million Financed by: Universal; DreamWorks
Domestic Box Office: $101,149,285 Overseas Box Office: $32,811,256

The rights to The Cat In The Hat were first scooped up by DreamWorks in June 1996 with Tim Allen expected to star and a release planned in 1998.  Pointless Trivia: Burger King was torn between choosing a 1998 promotional tie-in for two canceled movies — The Cat In The Hat or Tim Burton’s Superman Lives.  The project never materialized and the rights eventually lapsed.

A few months before the November 2000 release of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Universal was bullish on the picture’s success and began negotiations with Dr. Seuss’ widow Audrey Geisel for the rights to The Cat In The Hat.  The deal was expected to be similar to the high priced Grinch deal, which paid Geisel $5 million for the filming rights, plus 4% of gross and 50% of merchandising.

Also back in 2000, Universal and Imagine Entertainment sued Mike Myers — who also counter sued — over a project called Sprockets based off of a Saturday Night Live character Dieter.  Myers claimed he was being bullied into going into production with a script he did not approve, despite the odd fact that he wrote the script.  Imagine filed a $30-million breach of contract lawsuit and Universal also sued Myers under similar amounts and terms.  After a few months of this public spat, all parties settled with undisclosed terms.

It was quite the surprise in 2002 that Universal and Imagine decided to get back into business with Myers for this Dr. Seuss adaptation after their box office success with How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  Universal partnered with DreamWorks to co-finance.  The budget for The Cat In The Hat was $109 million.   Universal would handle domestic distribution and DreamWorks would have international distribution, which they would release through United International Pictures.  Award winning production designer Bo Welch, who was set to direct Sprockets when the project derailed, finally got his first directing gig.

Universal dated Cat for November 21, which was the same weekend frame How The Grinch Stole Christmas opened in 2000.  On top of an expensive marketing blitz, tens of millions of dollars were spent on promotional tie-ins with Burger King, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, MasterCard, Pepsi/Frito Lay, Procter and Gamble, Rayovac, Smucker’s and Jif and the United States Postal Service.

Reviews don’t get much worse than the hateful write-ups it received and this horror show came in under expectations with $38,329,160.  The film saw a 36.2% second frame drop to $24,459,685 but tumbled 70.8% in its third frame to $7,141,855 killing its chances at box office success.  The Cat In The Hat closed its domestic run just past the century mark with $101,149,285.

The success of How The Grinch Stole Christmas was largely dependent on its huge domestic gross ($260 million), which accounted for 75% of its worldwide take and The Cat In The Hat also had 75% of its worldwide total come from its domestic gross — which is troubling since the overseas gross was a mere $32,811,256.  The worldwide cume was $133.9 million, returning about $73.6 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover the worldwide P&A costs.

The negative reception caused Seuss’ widow Audrey Geisel to block any future live-action adaptations from being put into production.  Bo Welch never directed another film and went back to being a production designer.  Mike Myers next live action feature was the equally misguided excrement and career killer The Love Guru.


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  1. I remember seeing this film in theaters when I was younger mainly because I was interested in how Dr. Seuss’ works being adapted into full-length motion pictures.

    I also remember hating this film back when I was younger because of all the dumb adult jokes and inappropriate innuendos that I could not comprehend or understand as if the film doesn’t know it’s supposed to be a clean and fun family-friendly film based on one of Dr. Seuss’ most beloved works, not a more adult parody of one of his works.

    I am glad that this film bombed and that Seuss’ widow pulled the plug on more live-action Dr. Seuss films being made.

  2. It’s probably for the best that Bo Welch went back to production design after this film bombed. Production design is clearly where he’s most comfortable. And that’s certainly where he excels. In fact, Welch has been nominated for three Academy Awards for his work in production design, for 1995’s A Little Princess, 1996’s The Birdcage, and 1997’s Men in Black.

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