Last November saw the release of Illumination’s The Grinch, arriving 61 years after Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! was originally published and 18 years after the live action movie starring Jim Carrey hit theaters. However, originally the plan was for the The Grinch to come out on November 10, 2017, but in mid-2016, it was pushed back to its final 2018 release date. When I asked co-director Scott Mosier if there was any specific reason why The Grinch was delayed, he attributed it needing a little extra time to ensure that the movie was the best it could be. He explained:
I mean, it happens a lot in animation, and one of the things was, Illumination had a lot of movies going on at the same time. We sort of all agreed that you kind of need to be in a certain position to start production. Everybody kind of needs to feel like you're on the right track or you've sort of crossed that threshold to feel comfortable going forward. And we were doing a lot of great work and things were going well. But it just felt like there we were stressing the project too much. This was especially with Chris [Meledandri], he really wanted the movie, he loved the movie, but he wanted to give it another year so we could figure a few more things out.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Scott Mosier over the phone ahead of The Grinch’s release on Blu-ray and DVD, and when the conversation turned to The Grinch’s year-long delay, he made it clear that pushing the movie back was necessary. Fortunately for Mosier and his team, producer and Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri was all for having The Grinch come out in 2018 instead if it resulted in a better product.
Anyone who follows movie news regularly knows that release dates aren’t cemented once they’re announced. There are various factors that can lead to a studio postponing a movie (or occasionally even being moved up the calendar), and as Scott Mosier noted, animated projects in particular deal with delays often. But along with the usual time-consuming animation process, Mosier also mentioned that because The Grinch is a Seussian-creation, that meant extra attention was required for the movie to look unique. As Mosier, who co-directed The Grinch with Yarrow Cheney, put it:
Like I said, it happens a lot in animation where, you know, you're sort of moving along and you can just feel you're going to be in a rush. Because once production starts going, you gotta go. Then you have to add all these thresholds and move and move and move, and you can't be as limber, you can’t make as many changes. And so we all just sort of looked at it and were like, ‘Hey, you know what? We could really do a lot with another year.’ And especially [because] the Seuss world is so dense, and even on an art level, building an entire world of every fork and every plate and everything had to be sort of Seussed. It was just a sort of massive task. So yeah, it was really Chris having the foresight to being like, ‘Look, I think we need to push a year because that's gonna give us the time to make the movie we want to make.’
For this adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas tale, Benedict Cumberbatch brought the green-furred curmudgeon to life, and The Grinch’s other voices included Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury and Pharrell Williams. It is now the second highest-grossing Christmas themed movie of all time with its over $508 million haul worldwide, trailing only behind Home Alone.