The Weinstein Co has taken North American rights to the upcoming big-screen transfer of Michael Bond’s classic kids character Paddington Bear. Paddington will be the first release under a new label for the company, TWC-Dimension, which will see Harvey and Bob Weinstein team on films for which they share a common passion. The Harry Potter franchise’s David Heyman is producing Paddington which is fully financed by Studiocanal. Colin Firth has been set to voice the CGI bear and, in a reteam with his Railway Man co-star, Nicole Kidman will play an evil taxidermist out for revenge. Also joining the cast are Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
This is the first-ever live action film inspired by the books which Bond began in 1958. The story follows a curious young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British who travels to London in search of a home. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family who offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed, until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
Principal photography starts this month with Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Might Boosh) directing. Shooting is set to take place in the UK with Framestore handling VFX. Studiocanal has set a November 28, 2014 event release in the UK and will go day-and-date in its other territories that include France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. TWC-Dimension will release in North America in the first quarter of 2015. Studiocanal has international sales.
The project was initially announced in Cannes in 2012 and Studiocanal chairman Olivier Courson tells me the idea was to take time developing a script that would be a “real family comedy” that’s not just for kids. “We’re very happy to announce all of this good news at the same time. We’ve been developing the film with David Heyman for a while. Starting the shoot with such a great cast is a dream come true. And we are thrilled to have Harvey and Bob Weinstein joining us in the adventure.”
The Weinstein brothers added, “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 TWC-Dimension. Harvey and Bob Weinstein will jointly acquire, develop, produce and distribute films which combine core sensibilities of a TWC film as well as mainstream sensibilities of a Dimension film. The new moniker will also be used to expand and develop future franchises.
The North American deal was negotiated for Dimension Films by TWC COO David Glasser; EVP business/legal affairs and acquisitions, Michal Steinberg; EVP of acquisitions, Dan Guando; and managing director Europe, Robert Walak along with Studiocanal’s Ron Halpern, EVP international production and acquisition; and Harold Van Lier, EVP international distribution.
Firth and Broadbent are repped by CAA and the UK’s Independent Talent Group; Kidman is repped by CAA and Media Talent Group; Bonneville is repped by UTA and the UK’s Gordon and French; Hawkins is with ICM Partners and the UK’s Conway van Gelder Grant.
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