We hear that the studio is looking for a more family-friendly release date for the pic, which also had been announced as a Gala Presentation at the Toronto Film Festival in September. The title’s Canadian rights are held by eOne, so it would be taking Clifford to TIFF, but it’s unclear whether it would still premiere there. There’s no mention of the movie on the fest’s site.
Clifford‘s full trailer arrived in late June and was met with online criticism about the title mega-K9’s odd color and smaller size, compared to his depiction in Norman Bridwell’s classic books or the 2000s animated PBS series. A first-look teaser that hit in November also drew mixed reviews, and many laughs, from the Twitterverse.
Directed by Walt Becker, Clifford the Big Red Dog stars Darby Camp as Emily Elizabeth, a middle-schooler who meets a magical animal rescuer (John Cleese) who gifts her a little, red puppy. She never anticipated to wake up to find a giant 10-foot hound in her small New York City apartment. While her single mom (Sienna Guillory) is away for business, Emily, Clifford and her fun but impulsive Uncle Casey (Jack Whitehall) set out on an adventure.
Watch on Deadline
Deadline hears that the movie is finished, but the studio’s move is reminiscent of what happened with another Paramount feature based on a popular kids IP, Sonic the Hedgehog. When that CGI/live-action pic’s first trailer hit the web in April 2019, it drew instant blowback over the title character’s human-looking teeth. A week later, director Jeff Fowler responded to the concerns via Twitter, saying a redesign was “going to happen.” Less than three weeks later, Paramount said the dental redo would delay the film from its planned November 8 release to February 14, 2020.
The pic’s second trailer, featuring a Sonic with different choppers and bigger eyes, was released in November 2019 and was much better received. The film went on to be have a vidgame-record $70 million domestic opening global opening en route to a nearly $320 million global cume, and Paramount announced a few months later that it was developing a sequel.
Patrick Hipes and Anthony D’Alessandro contributed to this report.