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With 'Curious George,' Illumination looks to make more animation mischief

July 30, 2010 |  1:04 pm

George

EXCLUSIVE: Filmgoers soon will have another round of adventures with the Man With the Yellow Hat.

Illumination Entertainment, the animation company founded by former Fox Animation President Chris Meledandri and whose movies Universal finances and distributes, is developing a new version of "Curious George."

The movie is expected to feature the wry animated images of "Despicable Me" and will spin a new story of George the monkey/chimpanzee (depending on whether you favor H.A. and Margret Rey's text or the tail-less images) who's taken out of the jungle by an eccentric explorer to live in the city, where mischief always seems to find him.

Universal and production company Imagine produced an animated "Curious George" just four years ago, in which Will Ferrell voiced the Man With the Yellow hat. Mired in development for years, the movie didn't entirely catch on with filmgoers, grossing just $58 million in the U.S. (A second installment, "Curious George 2: Follow that Monkey!," came out as a direct-to-DVD release in 2009.)

The Illumination film is expected to start from scratch. It's getting a script from Larry Stuckey, who wrote the upcoming "Little Fockers," the third installment in the "Meet the Parents" franchise, for Universal.

Universal is very keen on Illumination, which with "Despicable" gave the studio a long-awaited family-friendly animation hit. After the success of that film, Meledandri's company is also developing "Where's Waldo?" and "Dr. Seuss' the Lorax" movies as well as a sequel to "Despicable Me."

Reboots of movies that haven't been gone very long -- "Haunted Mansion" and  "Spider-Man" -- continue to remain in vogue in Hollywood. They'll be an adventure, but we suppose if any character is up for one, it's Curious George.

--Steven Zeitchik

Twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Curious George. Credit: Houghton Mifflin

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