Weinsteins Acquire 'Paddington' for North America, With Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth to Star
The big-screen adaptation of Michael Bond’s classic kids character Paddington Bear, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, will be brought to North America by The Weinstein Co.
Paddington will be the first release through a new label for the company, TWC-Dimension, which will see Harvey and Bob Weinstein team on films.
The books follow the adventures of a curious bear from darkest Peru who arrives in the British capital lost and is adopted by a well-to-do family named Brown. His adoptive family name him after the place where they found him: London's iconic Paddington train station.
Paddington will be the first live-action film inspired by the books, which Bond began in 1958. The stories have been adapted for a cartoon series.
British producer David Heyman, the Harry Potter franchise producer, is mounting Paddington, a project fully financed by French-owned StudioCanal.
Firth, an Oscar winner for The King's Speech, will provide the voice of the CGI teddy bear, while Kidman will play an evil taxidermist out for revenge. The duo were recently seen together in The Railway Man, which unspooled in Toronto.
Also added to the cast are a who's who of A-list British talent, including Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
Shooting in the U.K. starts this month, with TV director Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Mighty Boosh) at the helm.
Framestore is doing the VFX work, and StudioCanal has set a Nov. 28, 2014, rollout in the U.K., planning a day-and-date release in its other territories that include France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
TWC-Dimension will release in North America in first quarter 2015.
StudioCanal also is handling international sales.
Heyman described bringing alive the Paddington story as "a great honor."
Said Heyman: "I am hugely excited to be working with Paul King, whose imagination, flair and sense of wit and wonder make him the ideal director. And I am thrilled that we now have such an exceptional cast to bring the story of Paddington Bear to life."
StudioCanal chairman and CEO Olivier Courson said: "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."
Bob and Harvey Weinstein said in a joint statement: "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 TWC-Dimension, for which Harvey and Bob will jointly acquire, develop, produce and distribute films that "combine core sensibilities of a TWC film, as well as mainstream sensibilities of a Dimension film."
The North American deal was negotiated for Dimension Films by TWC COO David Glasser, executive vp business/legal affairs and acquisitions Michal Steinberg, executive vp acquisitions Dan Guando and managing director of Europe Robert Walak along with StudioCanal’s Ron Halpern, executive vp international production and acquisition, and Harold Van Lier, executive vp international distribution.
Firth and Broadbent are repped by CAA and the U.K.’s Independent Talent Group; Kidman by CAA; Bonneville by UTA and the U.K.’s Gordon and French; and Hawkins by ICM Partners and the U.K.’s Conway van Gelder Grant.