EXCLUSIVE: In the wake of the mountain of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, there has been some confusion regarding the North American distribution fate of Paddington 2. This is the sequel to Heyday Films’ and Studiocanal’s 2014 family smash, on which The Weinstein Co has North American distribution rights. Deadline asked producer David Heyman to set the record straight. While he was uncomfortable speaking about business in the face of such “abhorrent” acts, Heyman agreed to share his thoughts.
First and foremost, Heyman, whose credits include the Harry Potter franchise and Gravity, tells me, “What Harvey Weinstein did is obviously abhorrent. Hopefully the revelations and the conversation we are all engaged with now will lead to a tide of change in the entertainment industry and beyond.”
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Heyman says that his hope is that ultimately, “The Weinstein Company name is nowhere near Paddington 2”
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The Weinsteins “had absolutely nothing to do with the financing or making of this film,” Heyman says. The company solely picked it up for North American distribution under the TWC-Dimension label. Yet, “It’s very sad and deeply frustrating that Paddington, who’s been around for more than 50 years, and is always looking for the good in people, and has such a generous, warm-hearted spirit could have any association” with the ongoing scandal, Heyman continues.
Deadline understands there are conversations ongoing with Colony Capital — which recently threw TWC a cash lifeline — to look at alternative U.S. distributors. Heyman allows, “I’ve received calls from many distributors and I know Studiocanal and Colony Capital have too. I’m sure all options will be explored.”
For Colony, one has to surmise that Paddington 2 could be highly valuable in a clean way, or less valuable if it’s tarnished by scandal. A decision on how to exploit that seems clear. It would make sense that the film lands elsewhere, and likely with a studio.
In what appears now to have been a ham-fisted statement by Bob Weinstein on October 13, he said Paddington 2 was moving forward with its January 12 North American release date. That was a comment that is understood to have frustrated the folks behind the film.
The movie is fully financed by Studiocanal, which is releasing in its own territories beginning in the UK on November 10. But it’s also a key piece of business for TWC. The first film made $76M domestic, a solid hit for the company. Internationally, where TWC had no involvement with the film, Paddington brought in about $192M for $268M global including $65M in the UK where Studiocanal released and which was the film’s biggest offshore market. It is the highest grossing non-U.S. studio family title of all time.
The sequel sees Paul King return to direct from a script he co-wrote with Simon Farnaby. This time around, the marmalade-loving bear from darkest Peru gets mixed up in a new adventure while searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday. Ben Whishaw is again voicing the titular mischief-maker with other returning cast members Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi and Jim Broadbent. Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson are joining the fun this time around. Joanna Lumley and Richard Ayoade have cameos.
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