Third 'Paddington' Film Planned as Studiocanal Acquires Brand

Paddington the Bear Still - H 2014
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Paddington the Bear Still - H 2014

The 2015 film based on the British children's series, which Studiocanal produced, grossed $290 million worldwide.

Studiocanal, a unit of French media giant Vivendi, has acquired all rights, with the exception of publishing rights, to the Paddington Bear brand worldwide.

Studiocanal on Monday unveiled the acquisition of Paddington and Company, the group that holds the Paddington rights, as well as The Copyrights Group, a merchandising group that has licensing rights to the Paddington brand. Studiocanal also bought Harvey Unna and Stephen Durbridge Ltd., which has represented all of the media rights in Paddington for the last 40 years.

Author Michael Bond, who created the Paddington character in 1958, will retain publishing rights to the brand and will continue to work closely with Studiocanal. Financial details weren't disclosed.

The move marks Studiocanal's first acquisition of major entertainment IP. It fits nicely into the company's strategy of focusing on big European-based franchises. The first Paddington movie has been Studiocanal's biggest-ever release, grossing $290 million on a budget of around $55 million. Director Paul King and Harry Potter producer David Heyman are re-teaming for a Paddington sequel, set to begin shooting in October for a late 2017 release.

Studiocanal chairman-CEO Didier Lupfer said the company is also committed to a third Paddington film.

The Paddington deal opens up a wide range of opportunities for Studiocanal, allowing the company to use the Paddington characters for TV series, theme parks and live entertainment, as well as tapping into the lucrative market in Paddington merchandise.

Paddington-themed video games are another potential new revenue stream. Studiocanal parent company Vivendi recently won majority backing to acquire French mobile phone game company Gameloft, a deal that would give the company a means to roll out Paddington titles across multiple platforms. Vivendi also owns a more than 20 percent stake in European gaming giant Ubisoft.

Lupfer knows his way around a game console, having helped Ubisoft's move into film production, with the big-screen adaptation of Assassin's Creed.

Studiocanal is positioning itself to be a European studio on the U.S. model, with a heavy focus on known brands and franchises. In addition to Paddington, the group has had success with Shaun the Sheep, a feature film based on a preschool TV series created by Nick Park, which grossed $106 million worldwide; and the German-language live action film Heidi, which has earned more than $25 million.