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Before there was Ted, there was Teddy Ruxpin, the animatronic teddy bear that became a childhood staple for kids raised in the ’80s. And now the talking teddy is ready to make the leap to film and television.
DJ2 Entertainment, the production company behind adaptations of video game properties including Sonic the Hedgehog, Life Is Strange and Tomb Raider, has acquired rights to the iconic toy with plans to develop the character for the big and small screens.
Development is in the early stages, but sources say DJ2 is discussing the project with potential writers. The goal, per sources, is to launch with a possible hybrid live-action/animated film — similar to the company’s work on Paramount’s Sonic — before expanding to an animated series.
“I’m no hunter, but I’ve been tracking this bear for at least seven years,” said DJ2 founder and CEO Dmitri M. Johnson. “It’s no exaggeration to say that the time I spent enraptured by the stories Teddy Rux told me is a large part of why I chose a career in entertainment. So, thanks Teddy — and, of course, thanks, mom.”
Created in 1985, the plush toy came preloaded with a cassette tape that enabled Teddy to tell stories while his mouth and eyes moved. Ken Forsse, an inventor, author and Alchemy producer, created the toy. Worlds of Wonder distributed Teddy Ruxpin, which became a the best-selling toy in 1985 and 1986. Teddy Ruxpin has earned accolades over the years including being named one of Time magazine’s All-Time 100 Greatest Toys. Hasbro eventually distributed Teddy Ruxpin in the early- and mid-’90s before moving to Yes! Entertainment, BackPack Toys and its current distributor, Wicked Cool Toys. Through the years, Alchemy retained rights to Teddy. (Forsse died in 2014.)
“Teddy encourages two things the world always needs: connection and imagination,” said Jan Forsse, president of Alchemy. “We’re very pleased to be working with DJ2, and so gratified that people like Dmitri and his team retain their passion for, and connection to, our Teddy. Like us, they want to continue sharing him with the children of the world.”
Forsse, who worked for Disney and co-created Disney’s Haunted Mansion and went on to work for Sid & Marty Krofft Entertainment, is the subject of an indie film titled Ken Forsse: Come Dream With Me. The feature-length doc is expected to debut in 2022.
The toy previously inspired an animated series, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, in 1986-87, which was also created by Forsse. The syndicated series ran for two seasons and 65 episodes.
DJ2’s credits also include Netflix’s Tomb Raider anime series. The company is repped by APA and Brecheen Feldman.
Ted, meanwhile, is getting the reboot treatment from creator Seth MacFarlane, who has set a prequel series up at Peacock. The original foul-mouthed talking teddy feature debuted in 2012 and became the highest-grossing original comedy of all time that wasn’t a sequel or based on other IP. The success of the first film, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, triggered a sequel in 2015. The pair of features grossed more than $750 million worldwide.
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