Illumination and Universal Adapting 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' (Exclusive)

Clifford Happy Illustration - H 2012
<p>Clifford Happy Illustration - H 2012</p>
Matt Lopez will pen the script for the big-screen version.

Illumination Entertainment, the company behind the recent family hit Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, and Universal are teaming up to bring Clifford the Big Red Dog to the big screen.

Matt Lopez has been set to write the script for the project, which will be a live-action/animated hybrid. Chris Meledandri will produce for Illumination Entertainment with Deborah Forte producing for Scholastic Media.

Clifford follows the adventures of a 25-foot-tall red dog and his owner, a child named Emily Elizabeth. The girl picked up the dog when he was a puppy and the runt of the litter, but her love for him made him grow super huge, so much so that the family had to move out of the big city to a New England-esque island town.

The books hail from author and illustrator Norman Bridwell, with the first book published in 1963 and next year being Clifford’s 50th anniversary. The books have been a hit with generations of readers, and a popular PBS TV series has been broadening the reach since 2000. John Ritter voiced Clifford on the series until his death in 2003.

The character is a big brand in the children’s world, representing friendship and a role model.

Lopez has made a niche for himself in the family film market, working on such Disney films as Bedtime Stories, Race to Witch Mountain and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. He also worked on Universal's Asteroids and is writing The Dangerous Book for Boys for Scott Rudin and Fox. Lopez is repped by ICM and Licher Grossman.

Maradith Frenkel will oversee the project for Universal.