Why’d it Bomb? The Cat in the Hat (2003)
Kevthewriter wonders why the live-action movie based on Dr. Seuss’ most popular character bombed at the box office.
Of all the Dr. Seuss characters, The Cat in the Hat is the most popular. In fact, he’s basically the author’s mascot. So you’d think his movie would’ve been a huge box office success. Instead, the box office was underwhelming to say the least and it caused Audrey Geissel to refuse to let anymore Dr. Seuss books be adapted into live action. But why didn’t it do better?
3. A lot of people were disappointed by the Grinch remake
Despite being the highest grossing movie (domestically) of 2000, The Grinch remake got a divisive response from audiences and critics at the time. As the people who watched the movie as kids grew up, the movie’s reputation has softened somewhat but it’s still considered kind of a love it or hate it movie, which you can tell by its RT scores, as the movie has a critic’s score of 53% and an AUDIENCE score of 55%! Back in 2003, though, another live action adaptation of a Dr. Seuss movie might have turned those who hated The Grinch away, especially seeing as the trailers made it clear it was being done in a similar style.
2. There were a lot of other family films out at the time
One reason The Grinch probably did well, besides name value, was a lack of competition. All it really had to worry about was a sequel to a live action remake no one cared about outside of Glenn Close’s performance (102 Dalmatians) and a sequel to The Rugrats Movie (Rugrats in Paris). While the latter might have done well, it didn’t pose too much of a threat at the end of the day. The Cat in the Hat, on the other hand, had to compete with Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Brother Bear, The Haunted Mansion, and Elf. And, of the four, it wasn’t the Disney movies (though wouldn’t The Haunted Mansion have been more appropriate to release in October?), the Looney Tunes movie, or the Dr. Seuss movie that was a huge hit but Elf, which made $220 million dollars worldwide at the box office and is considered a beloved Christmas classic to this day, while the other four have been more or less forgotten. Hell, Elf is still popular enough that I see memes of it even when it isn’t Christmas time!
1. Word of Mouth
The Cat in the Hat wasn’t just considered a disappointment like The Grinch. No, people HATED it! It was blasted by critics and audiences didn’t much care for it either. So, when it turned out the movie was trash, word probably spread it wasn’t worth anyone’s time and, thus, audiences stayed away.
And, admittedly, it’s not a good movie. Neither was The Grinch. But maybe Dr. Seuss books aren’t the best source material to turn into movies. I mean, yeah, they have cool visuals and even some good social commentary but, at the end of the day (and I don’t mean any offense), they are still picture books aimed at young children and, as a result, do have very simple stories that are just hard to translate into 90 minute movies. If anything, it probably explains why they seem to have more success being 30 minute cartoon specials (just look at the original Grinch cartoon or even the original Cat in the Hat cartoon) than they do theatrically released movies.