PARIS – Bob and Harvey Weinstein have acquired North American rights to the David Heyman-produced live action CGI comedy “Paddington,” which will topline Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters and Colin Firth.
The Weinsteins will release “Paddington” under TWC-Dimension, a new label that sees the brothers teaming to acquire, develop, produce and distribute movies, meshing the “prestigious sensibilities” of TWC movies with Dimension films’ “mainstream sensibilities” and looking to develop future franchises with respected and emerging filmmakers at all budget ranges, according to a statement.
One of the latest movies from “Harry Potter” producer Heyman, whose sci-fi thriller “Gravity,” from Alfonso Cuaron, world premiered to acclaim at Venice, “Paddington” will go into production this month.
Developed and fully-financed by European film-TV group Studiocanal, the adaptation of Michael Bond’s celebrated children’s books, first published in 1958, will be distributed by Studiocanal in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, opening in the U.K. on Nov. 28, 2014, and in North America first quarter 2015.
As previously announced, Paul King (“Come Fly With Me”) will direct.
“I am hugely excited to be working with Paul King, whose imagination, flair, and sense of wit and wonder, make him the ideal director. And I am thrilled that we now have such an exceptional cast to bring the story of Paddington Bear to life,” Heyman commented.
Firth (“The King’s Speech”) will voice Paddington Bear, Kidman will play a dastardly taxidermist eager to stuff Paddington. Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”) limns Mr. Brown and Hawkins Mrs Brown, a kindly couple who take in Paddington when he finds himself lost and alone at the eponymous London railway station.
“Paddington” is the first-ever live action adaptation of Michael Bond’s best sellers, relating the bear’s comic misadventures.
“We have both always loved the stories of Paddington Bear and the amazing library of work from David Heyman. This film has the sensibilities of classic filmmaking as well as commercial appeal,” said Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairmen of The Weinstein Company.
They added. “We are excited to partner with Studiocanal and look to this as a potential future franchise, bringing this long time cherished character to the big screen for the first time.”
For Studiocanal, “Paddington” represents the most ambitious movie to date in its drive into family entertainment. It bought Ben Stassen’s Brussels-based nWAve 3D studio in 2010. The Stassen-helmed toon pic “Sammy’s Adventures” grossed $75 million worldwide.
Per Courson, very few family features are brought onto the indie market. He has described British family comedies with universal appeal as a production priority for Studiocanal.
Budgeted at the $20 million-$30 million range, many higher-end Studiocanal movies – as increasingly at other production companies – go into production without tying down a U.S. deal, aiming to at least recoup from the rest of international.
“Paddington’s” budget is believed to be substantially higher, making a U.S. distribution deal much more of a priority. For Studiocanal and Heyman, that is now a mission accomplished.
The deal was negotiated for Dimension Films by David Glasser, COO, The Weinstein Company, Michal Steinberg, EVP business/legal affairs and acquisitions, Dan Guando, EVP of acquisitions and Robert Walak, managing director Europe; and for Studiocanal, by Ron Halpern, EVP international production and acquisition, and Harold Van Lier, EVP international distribution.