Blowing the lid off the critical marmalade jar, Paddington 2 has set a new benchmark as the best-reviewed film ever on Rotten Tomatoes. The little bear from darkest Peru has now notched the most consecutive Fresh reviews without a single Rotten. Directed by Paul King, the Heyday Films/Studiocanal family sequel began offshore rollout in November, and was released in North America by Warner Bros last Friday. Its worldwide box office is $163M through Thursday.
Over at aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has 167 Fresh reviews and no naysayers, overtaking Toy Story 2‘s 163 Fresh and 0 negative critiques. There’s a codicil that should be added here: in November 2017, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird surpassed Toy Story 2 on the Fresh side, but was later knocked down a percentage point by one negative review, landing it at 99% Fresh. Paddington 2 has a 100% Fresh score.
The multi BAFTA-nominated sequel sees the return of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi and Jim Broadbent, and has Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson joining the CGI bear’s adventures — he’s voiced again by Ben Whishaw. King and Simon Farnaby wrote the movie that’s based on the Michael Bond creation.
Director King tells me of the RT news, “It’s incredibly gratifying. It’s such a strange process making these films which are preposterously labor-intensive. Normally you feel a film is coming into shape fairly quickly, but when it’s semi-animated so much of it evolves over the following year and you spend so many dozens of hours in darkened rooms looking at incredibly small details. You get incredibly meticulous and controll-y over every last frame. But there’s a danger you entirely lose your mind — and there’s an extraordinary moment when your head comes above water and the first response is from critics.”
The film was finished, King says, “on a Wednesday at 11 and we screened it at about 2PM that afternoon” for critics. “It’s a strange experience and you can’t help but hope for the best for this little character and the film you’ve created. It’s very lovely they were warm and enthusiastic.”
The success is extra sweet given the bear of a situation the movie had to deal with domestically. The Weinstein Co had released the first movie and had an option on this one. In the wake of the mountain of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the North American distribution fate of Paddington 2 was ultimately resolved when Warner Bros beat out Sony, Lionsgate and Global Road to take over the movie in a bidding war that reached $30M.
In North America, P2 was somewhat soft at open. But in a crowded market it finished its first week at $16.8M with strong mid-weeks. Says WB’s Jeff Goldstein, “The key for us is the hold this coming weekend. Given the rare 100% Certified Fresh on RT as well as the A CinemaScore, we are encouraged for strong holds and a long play.”
Warner Bros took over the movie mere weeks before its release date, and has done, King says, “an amazing job.” He notes that “younger kids are probably not reading film reviews or on Twitter” and adds, “Hopefully the parents are reading reviews to children. I dream of households across America going, ‘Hey, son, listen to this metric. This is arguably the most appreciated film in history.'” More seriously, he says, “I hope it will be one of those miracle films and people spread the word. Fingers crossed it’ll be the little train that could. The good thing is that it’s not one of these $200 million behemoths that needs to take in $1 billion.”
It certainly looks to cross $200M worldwide. Currently at $163M, it’s still got Japan, Russia, Brazil, Korea and Mexico among majors to come. The current Top 5 worldwide markets are the UK ($55M), China ($31M), the U.S. ($16.8M), France ($13.7M) and Germany ($9.1M).