The legal action that forced Mike Myers into making ‘The Cat in the Hat’
(Credits: Far Out / Universal Pictures)
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Mike Myers was one of the most popular comedy performers on the planet, but all it took were two disastrous movies to send his star plummeting downwards.
The Wayne’s World duology, So I Married and Axe Murderer, the Austin Powers trilogy, and the Shrek franchise all boast a huge number of fans and remain as widely quotable as ever, but Myers hasn’t played a major live-action role in a theatrical release since 2008.
In fact, he’s only made five big screen appearances in total since 2010’s Shrek Forever After in Inglourious Basterds, Terminal, Bohemian Rhapsody, Amsterdam, and Last Knight. Of that quintet, the first four were cameos that buried him under prosthetics, while the latter was a voice-only part in a Russian fantasy comedy.
Co-writing, producing, and starring in The Love Guru did him no favours when the film was resoundingly trashed in all corners, but five years previously, The Cat in the Hat had already ignited his decline. The response to the Dr Seuss adaptation was so dismal that the author’s widow banned any further live-action versions of her late husband’s back catalogue, which is why every single one to follow has been animated.
Nominated for ten Golden Raspberry Awards, The Cat in the Hat would be named ‘Worst Excuse for a Movie’, and despite gaining some defenders over the years, it makes a great deal of sense that Myers only agreed to headline the risible family-friendly caper as a means of avoiding legal action.
The star was once intended to headline Dieter’s Day, a feature-length adaptation focusing on his Saturday Night Live creation of the same name, but he cancelled the project in the summer of 2000 after remaining steadfastly unconvinced by the quality of the script he’d written himself.
As a result, Universal launched a $3.8million lawsuit to recoup the costs the studio had already spent on pre-production. A second filing came from Imagine Entertainment, who criticised Myers’ decision to abandon ship based on his own screenplay. In response, he would countersue them both, with a settlement eventually being made out of court.
One of the terms of the agreement was that Myers would agree to take top billing in another film from intended Dieter’s Day director Bo Welch, who ended up helming The Cat and the Hat. The leading man always maintained that he was a huge fan of the source material, telling About that it was “the first book I ever read and one of my best Christmas presents ever” when he received a copy at the age of eight years old, but it was Tim Allen who was originally cast in the title role before dropping out.
It was the looming threat of legal action that ultimately swayed Myers’ decision, and the results proved so dire that his standing in the industry took a serious hit as a direct result.