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THE CAT IN THE HAT

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbor
For Grazer and his team, the major difference between realizing The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat for the screen lay in the setting; while the former exists in a fantasy world of its own, the latter is a cautionary tale set in a place not too far from the world as it exists today. And where the Grinch came to life before the cameras on a soundstage, the Cat would be strutting a lot of his stuff on location, in the visually arresting town and suburbs of Anville. 

"The genius of Seuss,” comments Welch, "was that his stories always had a message but they were wrapped in magic and comedy, which gave them an ‘anything goes' quality—enough of a balance where a talking cat seems natural.” 

From the beginning of his work on the film, one of Welch's primary goals was to lift the childlike simplicity of the visuals from the Dr. Seuss books and transport it into the movie. Instead of trying to replicate the book, he sought to capture the spirit by creating a world where much of it is realized with a child's perspective in mind—not a literal point-of-view with the camera set low and tilted up, but rather evoking, through design and visuals, how children envision the world around them. It was that mantra that drove the design of the architecture, particularly on the outdoor sets of the neighborhood, the town and the bizarre contraptions that the Cat utilizes. 

Two separate color palettes were created: one for the Cat and the other for the world he drops into. The red, white and black of the Cat and his hat are seen only on him or the props he utilizes (along with the rare addition of metal and natural woods seen on the Cat's vehicles). The remainder of the film is draped in yellows, greens (the interior of the houses), lilac (the house exterior) and other ice cream/pastel colors, with the additional of the bold, simple colors used for the town. 

"The look and the tone of the movie is critical,” says Welch. "You have to create a context for a character like the Cat to exist in; if you put a six-foot-tall talking cat in a lovely hat and gloves and drop him into North Hollywood, it would be upsetting. And yet, we wanted the story grounded in enough reality to be able to access it from a reallife, human perspective. So the houses, cars and clothing look familiar but are just tweaked enough to set the movie on a different plane.” 

This philosophy at the heart of the filmmakers' concept enabled Welch to shoot a good deal of the movie on location in Southern California, where adapting the environment to fit within the film's world was all that was needed to make it work. That adaptation, however, was still a monumental task and if not for Welch's previous experience as production designer and the talents of imaginative production designer Alex McDowell and a talented crew, the whole concept might have been nixed in favor of soundstage work. 

The suburban neighborhood where the movie begins and the kids live had to have a fantastical element to it—a believability within its own hyper-realistic world, but also a uniformity, so that the children's boredom when grounded and staring out the window would make sense. 

"Before we started,” notes McDowell, "Bo's description of the neighborhood and town was that on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being absolute reality and 10 being absolute fantasy, we were at about four at the beginning of the movie, dialing it up to 10 toward the end.” 

One of Welch's primary objectives was to give the large sets—the neighborhood and the town center—a childlike simplicity that would get into the spirit of Dr. Seuss rather than trying to slavishly reproduce his work (little of which translates to practical three-dimensional construction). 

The filmmakers settled on a rural valley near Simi Valley, California, where 24 houses (each 26-feet square and 52-feet tall) were constructed

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