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Dr. Seuss media empire stretches far beyond six shelved books

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Dr. Seuss’ publisher’s decision to stop selling some of his beloved books appears unlikely to put a dent in his estate’s bottom line.

The beloved children’s author born Theodor Seuss Geisel raked in $33 million last year, making him the world’s second-highest-paid dead celebrity behind music legend Michael Jackson, according to Forbes’ calculations.

Geisel’s posthumous earnings have reportedly skyrocketed from just $9.5 million five years ago as Dr. Seuss Enterprises — the company that decided to shelve six of his books that contained racist imagery — built a media empire that brought his iconic characters from the page to the screen.

Audrey Geisl, Dr. Seuss’s widow, established the firm in 1993, two years after the author died from cancer. She oversaw efforts to produce film and stage adaptations of her late husband’s popular works before her 2018 death, including the Jim Carrey-led “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Cast member Danny DeVito (C) and wife Rhea Perlman (L) attend the premiere of the 3-D animated film "Dr. Suess' The Lorax" in Los Angeles February 19, 2012.
Cast member Danny DeVito, center, and wife Rhea Perlman, left, attend the premiere of the 3-D animated film “Dr. Suess’ The Lorax” in Los Angeles on Feb. 19, 2012.
REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Seuss Enterprises has doubled down on its film and TV bets since CEO Susan Brandt took the helm in 2012, Forbes reports. Under her watch, the company reportedly inked a massive deal with Netflix to produce a $65 million animated series based on “Green Eggs and Ham,” which debuted on the streaming service in 2019 and is headed for a second season.

“We put our big boy pants on,” Brandt told Forbes last year.

Forbes estimates that Seuss Enterprises pocketed at least $5 million from that deal, which was followed by a partnership with Warner Bros. The studio’s animation arm is working on films based on “The Cat in the Hat,” “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” and the characters Thing 1 and Thing 2. The projects have attracted Hollywood stars like producers JJ Abrams and Erica Rivinoja of the hit TV series “South Park.”

Dr. Seuss Enterprises declined to reveal sales figures for the six books that it decided to stop selling, which include “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

But the decision did not affect hit titles like “Green Eggs and Ham,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” and “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.” Those still account for four of the 10 best-selling children’s picture books today, according to Publisher’s Weekly.

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