A whole new generation of children can now think that Heathcliff is a ripoff of Garfield, as Waterman Entertainment has scooped up the movie and television rights to George Gately’s venerable newspaper comic strip.* They plan to make a CG/live action hybrid film, as well as a television series. That’s oldish news (“old,” as in, “from Wednesday”), but it pairs nicely with a more recent development: Fox and Walden Studios are moving forward on their own Sunday funnies film adaptation: Family Circus. They’ve hired Nicole Millard and Kathryn Price to write the film. The studios made a seven-figure (!) deal for the rights to Bil Keane’s comic back in 2010, but haven’t had much forward momentum on the project until now.
I generally roll my eyes at any wailings over the “death of creativity” in Hollywood, but this news… it stirs that reaction in my gut, at least. They aren’t really tarnishing any sacred properties here, though; this won’t be the first time either of these strips has been brought to the screen. There have been two Heathcliff TV shows and three Family Circus TV specials. Presumably, these new films will continue the tradition of offensively inoffensive blandness that these comics have carried on for decades.
*And another random discovery in that article: Waterman also has the rights for a Mr. Ed movie. I don’t even know what to say about that.