Principal photography to begin this month; 2014/15 release dates set.
The first live-action feature based around classic children’s character Paddington Bear is set to begin principal photography this month, Harry Potter producer David Heyman and StudioCanal have announced.
Family adventure Paddington, based on the character created by Michael Bond in 1958, will see the bear rendered as a CGI character, voiced by Oscar winner Colin Firth.
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The cast includes Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkwins as Mr and Mrs Brown, who in the original stories find the talking bear at Paddington Railway Station in London, sitting on his suitcase after stowing away in Peru.
Nicole Kidman has also joined the cast as “an evil taxidermist determined to wreak her revenge; Julie Walters as housekeeper Mrs Bird; and Oscar-winner Jim Broadbend as antiques shop owner Mr Gruber.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein have acquired North American rights and will release the film under new moniker TWC-Dimension.
It will be directed by Paul King, who previously directed TV series The Mighty Boosh and Come Fly With Me as well as 2009 feature Bunny and the Bull.
Studiocanal developed the film, is fully financing and will distribute in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, and is handling international sales.
The film will open in the UK on Nov 28, 2014. The film will be released wide in North America by TWC-Dimension in the first quarter of 2015.
According to StudioCanal, the story follows the comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined - until he meets the kindly Brown family who read the label around his neck (‘Please look after this bear. Thank you.’) and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed until he catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
Heyman said “It’s a great honour to be able to bring Michael Bond’s beloved character to the big screen. 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.”
In a joint statment, TWC co-chairmen Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein said: “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.
“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.”
Paddington will be the first release under the new moniker TWC-Dimension which has the Weinsteins teaming up in acquiring, developing, producing and distributing films “for which they both share a common passion”.
There are several movies in the pipeline that will be released under TWC-Dimension.
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; for the film by Ron Halpern, EVP international production and acquisition and Harold Van Lier, EVP international distribution at StudioCanal.