EXCLUSIVE: It’s official: Paul King will return to write and direct the sequel to smash hit Paddington, Deadline can confirm. The filmmaker, who had been courted by both producer David Heyman and financier-distributor StudioCanal ever since the first film proved a critical and commercial success earlier this year, will work with Simon Farnaby on the story to the second in what all involved hope becomes a long-running franchise.
King’s indie sensibility — his only previous feature had been low-budget comedy Bunny And The Bull — helped give the first Paddington genuine wit and heart, which in turn propelled it to worldwide grosses of $260 million. King is very much the creative lynchpin: He worked with writer Hamish McColl (Johnny English Reborn) on the story of the first film and will now work with Farnaby on the story for the second installment. Farnaby has worked with King before, acting in both Paddington as well as Bunny And The Bull playing Bunny.
Both Heyman, one of the world’s very best producers at shepherding family-friendly franchises as evidenced by his steering of the Harry Potter juggernaut — and StudioCanal had been vocal in their desire to bring King back on board. The project is a priority for both parties but, in a sign of Heyman’s old-school quality control, neither he nor StudioCanal will rush King or the project before they are ready.
Based on Brit author Michael Bond’s much-loved series of books, Paddington the film was, by some margin, StudioCanal’s most ambitious project ever with the pan-European giant fully financing the $55 million budget. That bet paid off handsomely, with strong grosses worldwide — including $76 million domestically for the Weinstein Co — as well as strong ancillary revenues and ubiquitous merchandising opportunities.
Reps for Heyman and StudioCanal declined to comment.
King is repped by Independent Talent Group in the UK and WME in the U.S. Farnaby is repped by Curtis Brown Group and Gallant Management.