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Warner Bros. Wins Bidding War for ‘Paddington 2’

Warner Bros. Pictures is taking over U.S. distribution on “Paddington 2” from the troubled Weinstein Company and will keep the planned Jan. 12 release date for the family comedy.

Paddington 2” opened solidly in the U.K. last weekend with $10.9 million, 60% above its predecessor. It’s fully financed by Studiocanal and produced by David Heyman. Warner bought distribution rights for the film in the U.S. and Canada from Studiocanal and TWC/Dimension Film for an undisclosed price.

The sequel stars Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Madeleine Harris, and Samuel Joslin. Ben Whishaw is the voice of Paddington, who is searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy’s hundredth birthday.

The original “Paddington” over-performed in 2015 with $76 million domestically and $191 million overseas.

Variety reported exclusively on Nov. 13 that TWC was trying to find a buyer for “Paddington 2” before the indie film studio files for bankruptcy protection. TWC’s  board of directors and leadership had been negotiating with Vine Investment Advisors and Fortress Investment Group about a possible $20 million to $35 million bridge loan that would enable the company to meet its payroll obligations.

The company is known to have retained FTI Consulting, a financial advisory firm that’s well-versed in corporate restructuring. Insiders say the Weinstein Co. is saddled with as much as $500 million in debt and obligations. The company’s fiscal crisis has been exacerbated by the extraordinary wave of sexual assault allegations leveled against co-founder and former co-chairman Harvey Weinstein.

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