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DreamWorks Animation has gone to the dog.
The animation arm owned by Universal, is developing a feature film adaptation of Dog Man, the mega-selling graphic novel series by Dav Pilkey.
Peter Hastings, who cut his teeth writing influential ’90s animated series Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, is attached to direct Dog Man, whose rights DreamWorks recently optioned.
Published by Scholastic, the Dog Man series of books follows the madcap adventures of Dog Man, a lovable canine superhero, and his friends Li’l Petey, a curious kitten who embodies love, optimism and hope, and 80-HD, a robot who expresses himself best through his art. They call themselves the “Supa Buddies.”
Pilkey began the series after winding down his previous hit creation, Captain Underpants. Dog Man became an even bigger hit, thanks to the writer-artist’s humor and heart, with the books exploring universally positive themes including empathy, kindness, persistence, becoming a better version of one’s self and the importance of doing good. Also, the unique style of the graphic novels is intended to encourage the love of reading and creativity in kids.
It’s important to underscore the massive nature of the series. Forget about all nine books becoming No. 1 best-sellers. The recent titles have had first printings of 3 million and 5 million copies, unheard-of numbers in the graphic novel industry and squashing anything close to the majority of offerings from the bigger names in comics, DC and Marvel. Pilkey is operating in the realm of authors such as Stephen King, and in 2019 he was named Publisher’s Weekly person of the year, the first time a cartoonist had received the recognition. His book tour events sometimes take place in packed arenas.
The series has nearly 40 million copies in print to date and has been translated into 40 foreign languages. The most recent title, Dog Man: Grime & Punishment, was published Sept. 1, and Scholastic will publish the 10th book in the series, Dog Man: Mothering Heights, on March 23.
DreamWorks Animation previously collaborated with Pilkey on 2017’s Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, which grossed more than $125 million globally.
“As his readers all over the world know, Dav Pilkey is truly one of the most creative and talented storytellers of his generation,” enthused DreamWorks’ chief creative officer, features, Kristin Lowe. “And Peter Hastings is just the right person to bring this iconic character to the big screen and the legions of fans who are all eagerly awaiting the adaptation.”
Stated Pilkey: “I am humbled and grateful to once again work with the brilliant Peter Hastings and the outstanding team at DreamWorks Animation.”
Hastings is a six-time Emmy Award and Peabody winner, not just for Animaniacs and Pinky, but also DreamWorks’ own series such as Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, where he first worked closely with Pilkey. He joined the studio’s TV arm in 2011.
“This is my second project based on Dav Pilkey’s books and I’m very excited to take his funny, clever, emotional and ultimately inspirational Dog Man and make it move!” said Hastings. “Not just by telling the story, but by absorbing and building on his great sensibility, bringing it to the screen with deep respect to his gazillion fans — ’cause I’m one of them.”
Pilkey is repped by Amy Berkower at Writers House LLC, Kassie Evashevski at Anonymous Content and Jamie Coghill at Surpin, Mayersohn & Coghill, LLP.
Hastings is repped by The Gotham Group.
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