Iconic children’s book author Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka. Dr. Seuss, is getting the movie biopic treatment with Seuss, a project that now has Stephen Chbosky attached as director. The film is being produced by Paper Pictures head Carla Hacken, the Oscar-nominated studio executive turned producer who has already collaborated with such noteworthy filmmakers as Jean-Marc Vallée (Demolition), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), and Colin Trevorrow (The Book of Henry) since turning to producing full-time just a few years ago.
Johny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and Illumination Entertainment began developing a Dr. Seuss film biopic as a starring vehicle for Depp back in 2011, but that project eventually well by the wayside and there hasn’t been much movement on a movie about Geisel’s real life story since then. Illumination has since focused on developing computer-animated films based on the author’s various illustrated children’s books instead, starting with the 2012 feature-length animated version of the author’s environmental parable, The Lorax. While the studio also has Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch scheduled to open in theaters this November, its 3D animated take on The Cat in the Hat failed to get off the ground back in the early 2010s. An animated Cat in the Hat movie is now moving forward at Warner Bros. instead, as was announced earlier this year.
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Deadline is reporting that Chbosky has now been set to direct the Seuss biopic, with Hacken currently seeking out actors and financiers for the project. The film is being written by relative newcomers Eyal Podell and Jonathan Stewart, and will reveal how Geisel struggled as a budding writer in the 1920s, prior to meeting his future wife Helen Palmer – an accomplished children’s book author and editor in her own right.
Based on Deadline‘s report, it sounds like Seuss will frame its namesake’s career (including, his time working as an illustrator and political cartoonist) through his relationship with his first wife, similar to how the Oscar-winning 2014 Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything focuses on the marriage between Hawking and his first wife, Jane Wilde. Like the Hawkings, the Geisels struggled with health issues (including, Helen’s infertility) and their story eventually took a turn for the tragic when, after some twenty-seven years of marriage, Helen was struck with a series of illnesses that took a heavy toll on their marriage, even as Theordor’s writing career began to flourish.
While the Geisels’ tale of married life could easily be turned in an overly manipulative tear-jerker of a biopic, it should be in safe hands with Chbosky calling the shots. The storyteller is known for handling poignant and heart-wrenching subject matter with a sensitive touch, as evidence by his critically acclaimed efforts on 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (a film adaptation of Chbosky’s own novel) and last year’s Oscar-nominated drama Wonder (a movie that quietly grossed $286 million worldwide in theaters). Seuss’ whimsical children’s stories continue to resonate with people across generations and were important to the childhood of many an adult today, so here’s to hoping the biopic about his life leaves a lasting emotional impact of its own.
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Seuss does not have an official release date. We will let you know when that changes.