Paramount Pictures has pulled Clifford the Big Red Dog from its release schedule, with just weeks to go before it was set to hit theaters. The studio cited growing concerns over the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus in the U.S. Clifford, an adaptation of the beloved Norman Bridwell children's books, was scheduled to hit theaters on Sept. 17.
There was some speculation that the movie would only be delayed a week, but Deadline reports Clifford has been completely removed from Paramount's schedule. The move is a surprise, especially since it is completed. In addition, the movie was scheduled to debut as a Gala Presentation during the Toronto Film Festival next month. eOne, which has the Canadian rights to the film, was set to present the movie at the festival, but it no longer appears on the festival's website.
Paramount believes the movie can be a hit if it hits theaters when more children can safely attend screenings. The studio's insistence on getting the movie to theaters is notable since Paramount previously dropped two movies on Paramount+, SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run and Mark Wahlberg's Infinite. Paramount could attract more families to Paramount+ by releasing Clifford on the streaming platform, especially since it is such a beloved property.
Clifford the Big Red Dog was directed by Walt Becker (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip) and stars Darby Camp (The Christmas Chronicles) as Emily Elizabeth Howard and Jack Whitehall (Bad Education) as her uncle Casey. David Alan Grier voices Clifford, who begins as the runt of his litter but grows to become a giant red dog. In the movie, Clifford and Emily are cased by a greedy genetics company that wants to create supersize animals.
The first Clifford the Big Red Dog book was published in 1963. Scholastic Media also produced a successful animated series from 2000 to 2003, featuring the late John Ritter as the voice of Clifford. The animated show was such a big hit that the 2004 finale was released to theaters as Clifford's Really Big Movie. Clifford's Puppy Days aired from 2003 to 2006. Another animated series, also titled Clifford the Big Red Dog, began in 2019 and is available on Amazon Prime Video and aired on PBS Kids.
Although audiences have only seen a trailer, the response to the CGI Clifford has been mixed on social media. Many found the dog's look horrifying. "I'm sorry but the live-action adaptation of Clifford the Big Red Dog looks HORRIFYING," one person tweeted. "CGI Clifford is the scariest thing I've ever seen. This isn't like that time they got Sonic wrong. They got Clifford right, but it doesn't feel worth it. Our collective hubris really f— us this time," another wrote.