In a move that will further solidify StudioCanal’s burgeoning family franchise, the pan-Euro film giant has acquired all intellectual property rights, apart from publishing, to Michael Bond’s classic Paddington Bear series from Paddington and Company LTD. StudioCanal has also acquired The Copyrights Group LTD, which serves as the merchandising licensing agent for Paddington Bear, as well as other famous literary properties.
Paddington, produced by Harry Potter uber-producer David Heyman, was StudioCanal’s biggest ever hit. The first installment of the big-screen adaptation of Bond’s marmalade-loving bear from deepest, darkest Peru was also StudioCanal’s biggest-ever bet — the company fully financed the $55 million picture — and its biggest success with worldwide grosses of $290 million. The sequel, currently in development, had buyers rushing to StudioCanal’s sales offices in Cannes.
Locking down the IP and merchandising rights puts StudioCanal in pole position to make a mint out of the property moving forward. Paddington Bear merchandise is a huge business, especially in the UK. With global awareness of the brand now growing thanks to the success of the film series, owning those properties could prove a lucrative business. StudioCanal execs cannily used a Paddington Bear cuddly toy to promote the film during the Berlin premiere of George Clooney-starrer The Monuments Men. Hugh Bonneville, who starred in both films, managed to convince the likes of Clooney and Bill Murray to pose with Paddington while tub-thumping their own pic.
“Paddington has been a very important part of my life since the publication of my father’s first book, A Bear Called Paddington, exactly two months after I was born,” said Karen Jankel, owner and Managing Director of Paddington and Company. “For our family this is about so much more than selling a company but, as StudioCanal have already proved with the wonderful first film, they are more than capable of looking after Paddington. So we couldn’t be more delighted that it is they who will be taking on the mantle of his guardianship and I feel confident that he will be in a very safe pair of paws.”
Jankel will retain a consultancy role on the future creative development of the brand in association with the team at The Copyrights Group Limited, which has repped Paddington since 1984. Bond will also continue to work closely with StudioCanal as regards the publishing rights which he retains. Harvey Unna and Stephen Durbridge (1975) Limited, which has represented all of the media rights in Paddington for the last 40 years is also part of the Studiocanal acquisition.
“Following this success, we shall continue to develop Paddington, who is already a familiar feature in millions of homes worldwide,” said StudioCanal chief exec Didier Lupfer. “This will start with a second chapter of Paddington’s movie adventures, the shooting of which is to start this autumn. Beyond cinema, Paddington will benefit from the full strength of a media and entertainment group of Vivendi’s size, with a presence in television, music, live entertainment, video games and the digital world. Paddington is a 58 year old classic brand, and we shall continue to make it grow still further.”
Other properties controlled by The Copyrights Group include Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, Father Christmas and Fungus The Bogeyman characters and The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady.
The sellers were repped by ACF Investment Bank and Charles Russell Speechlys. StudioCanal was repped by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.