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Alcon Entertainment is moving forward on its “Garfield” animated feature project with Mark Dindal on board to direct.

Dindal’s credits include “The Emperor’s New Groove” and “Chicken Little.” He’s directing from a screenplay by the writing team of Paul Kaplan and Mark Torgove. Pre-production is set to begin next month in Los Angeles.

Alcon bought the “Garfield” rights in 2016 from Jim Davis, the creator of the Garfield comic series and brand. Davis will be an executive producer. Alcon said Monday that its goal is to build a franchise of fully CG-animated Garfield feature films.

John Cohen (“Despicable Me”) and Steven P. Wegner (“Dolphin Tale 2”) brought the project to Alcon and will produce along with Alcon toppers Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson. Bridget McMeel from Amuse will executive produce with Davis.

“Jim Davis’ beloved creation has been an international sensation for all ages for decades and we are thrilled to partner with Mark Dindal, who has brought delightful characters to life throughout the years,” said Kosove and Johnson. “We are excited to see what he does with Garfield.”

The Garfield comic strip debuted in 1978. It follows a cynical and lazy orange cat and his interactions with owner Jon Arbuckle and fellow pet Odie, a dog. Garfield ultimately appeared in 2,580 newspapers and journals, with an estimated readership of 260 million. Garfield currently holds the record for being the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world.

Fox released “Garfield: The Movie” in 2004 as a family comedy directed by Peter Hewitt, starring Breckin Meyer as Jon Arbuckle and Jennifer Love Hewitt as Dr. Liz Wilson with Bill Murray as the voice of Garfield, which was created with computer animation. The film was produced by Davis Entertainment, grossed $200 million worldwide and generated 2006 sequel “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties.”

Dindal said, “Comic strip characters have always had a special appeal to me. To have this opportunity to make a film with a classic character like Garfield is a privilege and a thrill.”