Garfield Back on the Big Screen

That lazy orange tabby with a taste for lasagna leaps from the funny pages to the silver screen for the second time in 20th Century Fox’s Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, a sequel to the 2004 hit, Garfield: The Movie. The CG-enhanced comedy opens in nearly 3,000 theaters today, challenging Disney/Pixar’s Cars for the lion’s share of the family audience.

Garfield : A Tale of Two Kitties is directed by SpongeBob SquarePants Movie scribe Tim Hill, who cut his directorial teeth on Columbia Pictures’ Muppets in Space and Disney’s Max Keeble’s Big Move. In this latest adventure, Garfield, voiced again by Bill Murray, travels to the U.K. with his owner, Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer). Through a case of mistaken identity, our feline hero lands in the lap of luxury as the ruler of a posh castle, but gets more than he bargained for as the scheming Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly) plots to take over the estate.

Garfield creator Jim Davis produced the sequel, which again combines live-action footage with a CG Garfield animated by the team at vfx house Rhythm & Hues. After numerous 2D-animated TV specials and a regular series, Garfield’s 3D makeover proved profitable with the first movie, which earned $75.3 million domestically on its way to $198 million worldwide.

This latest effort faces tough competition from the fully animated Cars, which opened to $60 million last weekend and may just win another race or two before running out of gas. Also taking the track this weekend is Universal’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, but the box office cup just may go to Paramount’s Nacho Libre, a Jack Black comedy vehicle written and directed by Napoleon Dynamite helmer Jared Hess. Amid all that racing and wrestling, Warner Bros. hopes to reel in female audiences with The Lake House, a supernatural romance flick starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.