The studio originally wanted Benedict Cumberbatch to voice the Grinch using his natural voice, but Benedict felt that, since the rest of the cast is American, the Grinch himself should have an American accent.
In Despicable Me 3 (2017), the oldest of Gru's girls, Margo, is seen wearing a T-shirt with this version of the Grinch on the front. Being as both are from Ilumination Entertainment, this was clearly a nod to the upcoming film. In the first Despicable Me (2010) film, Margo had a Lorax shirt, teasing Illumination Entertainment's The Lorax (2012), a fellow Dr. Seuss film.
Max is still the Grinch's morality pet, but instead of being a frightened, timid dog who reluctantly does the Grinch's bidding, Max is very much loving and loyal to the Grinch. While he is by no means a nicer guy, this version of the Grinch is shown to be marginally kinder to Max than the cartoon or How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), generally by treating him more like a typical dog owner would and at one point playing with Max with a small, affectionate smile on his face. Overall, the Grinch is much less antisocial than his previous incarnations and it's implied his motive for stealing Christmas is partially more of a Freudian Excuse than out of sheer malice.
When Cindy Lou and her friend go up into the treehouse the baseball bat they ride on as a platform has the name "Theodor" carved on it. This is a reference to author-creator Dr.Seuss aka Theodor Seuss Geisel.
When asked if the film was always the direction of the storybook, Benedict Cumberbatch stated: "You don't necessarily get the whole script. There's pitches all along the way and you know where it's going. But I did say quite early on I really want to know why he is the way he is. Maybe there is a reason behind that, that he's been hurt before. Why is he outside? Why is he green? Why does he live on his own in a mountain? What is all that about? The sort of motivational questions that a navel-gazing actor always asks. But you do need to make sense of characters. They can't just exist in a vacuum, even if they're animated characters in a family film.".
There's a scene where Donna Who is late for her bus and chases after it yelling the bus driver's name "Sam!", who then stops and let's her on. This is a reference to the film Speed (1994), where Sandra Bullock's character Annie does the same thing.
The film was originally scheduled for a 2017 November release but was moved to November 2018 presumably to avoid competition with Sony Animation's The Star (2017), another animated Christmas-related film. Had the film been released in its original scheduled release date, it would've been released approximately 60 years after the Dr. Suess book, in which this film is based on, was first published in 1957.
When asked What is a holiday tradition or Christmas thing that makes him feel most like a Grinch, Benedict Cumberbatch stated: "Excess packaging, It's enough already. We're living [through] environmental disaster after environmental disaster. I don't get why it's not something that's actually fine-able now, to wrap toys and goods in plastic that's not needed. Toys are made of plastic as well. It's plastic on plastic. That is the thing that gets me Grinchy. Everything else is just part of the season. Last minute Christmas shopping? Often you've only got yourself to blame. But I just can't stand all the excess that goes with consumer goods and packaging".
The Grinch is said to have had to deal with Whoville and Christmas for 53 years. This film is set to be released approximately 53 years after the original animated adaptation from 1966. In addition, the film began its run in some theaters on November 8, 2018, eighteen years after the release of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).
The Grinch is less exaggerated-looking than previous versions, with softer facial features that look more like a furry green dog-man than a creepy old goblin, and normal eyes instead of his signature red and yellow pupils. He's also got much less of an exaggerated potbelly. Furthermore, the previous versions establish/imply that the Grinch lives in self-imposed exile away from the Whos. This film shows that the Grinch regularly visits Whoville to buy groceries. Presumably, as a result of him coming down to their town often, the Whos don't despise or fear him as much as the Whos do in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) or Halloween Is Grinch Night (1977), where the Grinch's impending arrival is a big deal.
On November 20, 2017, Danny Elfman was revealed to be composing the film's score. Tyler the Creator wrote a new song for the film titled, "I Am the Grinch". Tyler and Elfman collaborated on a new version of the song, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", for the film, which was featured in the final trailer.
When asked how prepping and going into record compared to motion capture, Benedict Cumberbatch stated: "it's far less mobile. It's a fixed point, you have to create a lot of energy, but it's around a really fixed access of microphone, whether you're being hauled around in a sleigh round a mountain or flung through a catapult or talking very quietly to your dog - all those levels have to come around a microphone. Your voice has to be supported by the action that makes it sound that way, but you have to stay on the mic whereas with motion capture you can really swing yourself about because you have a headset usually; you can throw your body around the landscape, except you're in isolation at the mic without Angela Lansbury or Kenan Thompson or any of the thousand people I did talk to".
In Cindy-Lou Who's first scene she is chasing after a mailman to give him a letter to Santa. In How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Cindy-Lou's first scene was going to the Post Office to join her father at work.
The Grinch in the 1966 cartoon and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) wears a Santa Claus costume but makes no further attempt to really look like Santa. In this film the Grinch plays a more convincing looking Santa including a beard and boots.
There is a new reason for why the Grinch has to go down to Whoville during Christmas season. He initially had stockpiles of food to last him till the start of January but due to his excessive "emotional" eating, he was reduced to a mere bean on a plate just five days shy of Christmas itself.
Benedict Cumberbatch had been cast as the titular character in April 2016. By September 2018, Angela Lansbury had been cast as the Mayor of Whoville. Rashida Jones, Cameron Seely, and Kenan Thompson had also been cast in the film, while Pharrell Williams, who previously worked on Illumination's Despicable Me films, was revealed to be narrating the film.
Similar to his previous incarnations, this Grinch has a massive intellect when it comes to concocting schemes and creating technological marvels (apparently inspired by Rube Goldberg), all for the purpose of stealing gifts.
Benedict Cumberbatch stated his own tips or traditions for getting in the spirit: "It's just about family and friends and going off-grid for me. It's about decorating of course - the tree, the house. I like getting out there and being with friends and family. I'll be like, "Wow, I feel like I've been out three nights in a row - oh yeah, it's Christmas!" I really love that sense of it being a holiday. I just enjoy the effort that people go to everywhere with decorations. I like being in a metropolis for Christmas, and I really like getting away from it all around the actual days and being in nature."
In Tyler the Creator's rendition of "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch", there are two lines in which the Grinch's teeth are described as yellow. However, in the film, the Grinch's teeth are clearly white. Whereas in the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), his teeth are yellow and extremely crooked. In the original book and the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), his teeth also appeared to be white, though also crooked. In this film, his teeth, aside from being white, are mostly straight.
This version of the Grinch insists on getting into character as Santa and actually dons a white beard, compared to the previous versions who didn't even bother. Yet he still does little else to hide his distinguishing green fur.
Pharrell Williams, who is the narrator of this film, and Tyler the Creator, who provided songs for the film's soundtrack, would go on to collaborate on the song, "The Mantra", which is on the Creed II (2018) soundtrack.
Since the Grinch has a very distinctive shape and look, the animators took inspiration from the book, Benedict Cumberbatch stated: "for certain performative strokes definitely, they film your performance while you're doing it, so it's not in isolation from that, they've managed to embody this voice in a character that's utterly unique, and I don't think looks too much like me, they record every session so they can see the performances as well as hear [it] but it's not like facial capture, I never did anything of that nature."
Benedict Cumberbatch compared the Grinch to his motion-capture performance of Smaug in the Hobbit movies: "for this character, a little bit like Smaug, he lives in a mountain and he's quite angry and isolated and alone, so apart from talking to Max who doesn't verbalize, it helped for the character in this instance. It does get very weird if you're doing quick-fire dialogue and you're not in the room with the people you're acting with."
This is Illumination's last original full-length animated feature film of the 2010s, and last original full-length feature for the next two years as the next films releasing in that time (The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019), Minions 2 (2020), and Sing 2 (2020)) are all sequels.
In the Latin American Spanish dub, the Grinch is voiced by Eugenio Derbez; in the Japanese dub, the titular Grinch is voiced by the movie actor Yo Oizumi, better known to videogame fans as the Japanese voice of the titular Professor Layton and also playing Kureo Mado in the Tokyo Ghoul live-action film; in the Brazilian dub, the Grinch is voiced by Lázaro Ramos.
Illumination Entertainment's second film to feature no humans after Sing (2016), and the second animated Dr. Seuss film to feature the furry humanoids seen commonly in Dr. Seuss books, after Horton Hears a Who! (2008).
In the Latin American Spanish dub: Ruben Cerda, who voiced the titular character's singing voice in the live-action film, will reprise the character in the dub, through the acting voice will be voiced by Eugenio Derbez instead, rather than Mario Castañeda.
The eighth Universal animated film to be rated PG by the MPAA, of which all previous animated Universal films released after The Tale of Despereaux (2008) (Universal's only CGI film Rated G by the MPAA) were rated as such.
The Grinch's backstory differs from the live-action counterpart, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), in which the Grinch was publicly humiliated in elementary school as a child due to having to shave at his age.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Near the end of the film, the Grinch wears a red and white tie when he's invited over to Cindy-Lou's house for Christmas dinner, a reference to The Cat in the Hat (another Dr. Seuss character) who has the same color pattern hat.
The Grinch's epiphany to steal Christmas happens on December 21 rather than Christmas Eve. This gives the Grinch more time to develop his gadgets and formulate his plan to rob all of Whoville in one fell swoop. This extra time also allows him to find reindeer to pull his sled, eventually snagging a reindeer named Fred.
In all other versions, the Grinch could not find a reindeer to help him with his heist, so he used Max instead. But in this adaptation he does successfully find a reindeer and lets it stay at his house with Max.