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Fox Animation, Blue Sky to Make CGI Horton Film

20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios are adapting Dr. Seuss' HORTON HEARS A WHO into a CG-animated movie, according to THE HOLLLYWOOD REPORTER. The disclosure on Wednesday was timed perfectly in consort with the launch of ROBOTS, directed by Blue Skys Chris Wedge, on Friday, March 11, 2005.

Christopher Meledandri, president of 20th Century Fox Animation, has pursued the rights for two years to computer animate Horton the elephant, one of Dr. Seuss' most lovable characters from his books. Meledandri, who supervises New York-based Blue Sky, approached Dr. Seuss Enterprises and author Ted Geisel's wife/estate executor Audrey Geisel to discuss the possibility of creating a 3D animated movie based on one of Dr. Seuss' books.

"I have always wanted to find a way to do a digitally animated Dr. Seuss movie," Meledandri told THR. The studio exec said the book translates easily into three acts with a winning theme, A person is a person no matter how small," he said.

Audrey Geisel, resistant to adapting any of her husband's books as CG movies, had collaborated with Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment on the live-action features, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS and THE CAT IN THE HAT. Meledandri said her largest concern is that any film adaptation should be respectful of what Ted Geisel was creating in his books. He promised the CG artists would take her husbands drawings and create worlds that audiences would believe actually existed.

Dr. Seuss books were first translated for the small screen in 2D animation by director Chuck Jones, who did the holiday classic, THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS in 1966 and HORTON HEARS A WHO in 1970. Nearly a dozen books have been produced in 2D, primarily by Chuck Jones Enterprises and DePatie-Freleng.

To prove Meledandris point, Mike De Feo, head of Blue Sky's modeling department, sculpted a model of Mayor of Whoville holding little Jo-Jo up above his head. In addition, Fox also created a painting of Horton and a sculpture.

They had captured her interest to bring Horton to the screen, whereby studios, including DreamWorks and Sony, got into a bidding war. Meledandri closed the deal, states THR, by giving Audrey Geisel, who will serve as exec producer on the movie, certain creative approvals. Fox also acquired rights to the second book in the HORTON series, HORTON HATCHES AN EGG.

Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (THE SANTA CLAUSE 2) will write the screenplay, and a director is expected to be announced in a few months.

HORTON HEARS A WHO is expected to come out after Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios' ICE AGE 2 in late 2007 or early 2008.