Universal Pictures subsidiary Illumination Entertainment is working on a new animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the company used its CinemaCon panel last night to announce that Benedict Cumberbatch is voicing the titular green-bearded grump. Cumberbatch will become the third actor to bring the Grinch to life: Boris Karloff lent his voice to the original animated version in 1966, and Jim Carrey hopped into a suit for Ron Howard's live-action take in 2000. Pete Candeland is going to direct Cumberbatch, and the movie's scheduled for release on November 17th, 2017.
Cumberbatch just spent half a decade voicing another crotchety, non-human mountain dweller, putting his dulcet tones to work as Smaug for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit series. (He also voiced Classified in Penguins of Madagascar.) How the Grinch Stole Christmas isn't his only animated project on the horizon, either: he's going to play the villainous tiger Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' take on The Jungle Book, which was recently delayed into 2018. (Oh, and he's cooking up a little something called Doctor Strange — maybe you've heard of it?)
And while his résumé is stuffed with dragons and penguins, Cumberbatch's work in Sherlock is what excites me about his turn donning the Grinch's green fur. The Grinch spends the bulk of Seuss' tale with a heart the size of a kidney bean, and he truly believes he's smarter than all of the blind worshippers down in Whoville. Cumberbatch has spent hundreds of hours playing an icy genius confounded by the emotions and icky feelings of the people around him. If he does a decent job, he could enter my Christmas movie rotation alongside Karloff and Carrey as soon as next year.