StudioCanal’s lovable Peruvian bear looks like he has — maybe — found a more family-friendly home away from the currently toxic house of the Weinsteins.
Paddington 2 is officially, at least, set for release Jan. 12 with TWC-Dimension, but it was widely understood that the French mini-major was seeking another domestic backer for its cuddly prize asset after the sexual harassment allegations erupted around Harvey Weinstein.
Speaking to the press in October, producer David Heyman said that he hoped the Weinstein Co. name was “nowhere near” the sequel and that other distributors had been making inquiries. The Hollywood Reporter now understands that one of those expressing an interest was Lionsgate, a move that would be expected given its growing relationship with StudioCanal. Lionsgate released StudioCanal’s Aardman feature Shaun the Sheep Movie in 2015 and has the animation powerhouse’s hotly anticipated Nick Park-directed Early Man due for release in January.
On Thursday, the two companies reinforced their multiyear output pact, with Lionsgate now set to handle the Shaun the Sheep sequel; the Liam Neeson action thriller Hard Powder; and The Mercy, starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz. One film not mentioned in the new deal was Paddington 2, but sources have heavily hinted to THR that an arrangement is in now the works.
However, Anna Marsh, StudioCanal’s exec vp international distribution, strongly denied to THR that Paddington 2 was being released by anyone but Dimension. “It’s not going anywhere,” she said, adding that the film’s Jan. 12 date was still set in stone.
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter‘s Nov. 5 daily issue at the American Film Market.