Last year, the Weinstein Company decided to delay the U.S. release of Paddington from its original Christmas Day 2014 launch by nearly a month – something that ultimately seemed to improve the domestic box office returns. It no doubt helps that writer/director Paul King’s movie adaptation of Michael Bond’s beloved character (a polite Peruvian bear who searches for a new home in London) is far and away the best-reviewed feature that has opened anew stateside in 2015 thus far.
Paddington has performed even better financially outside the U.S., with a global take that currently sits at $208 million (against an estimated $50-55 million budget) even before the film has opened in such lucrative markets as Chine and Japan. For that reason, the movie’s primary backer, StudioCanal, has begun discussions with producer David Heyman about a potential sequel.
Heynman is no stranger to franchises, having previously worked on the Harry Potter series. StudioCanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson informed Variety that it’s the combination of talent involved behind the scenes, as well as the enduring strength of the Paddington brand (which Bond created back in the late 1950s) that has the studio interested in pursuing a sequel.
“We have to be selective, work with strong brands, top talent, take the time we need. [But] obviously, the result on ‘Paddington’ is a strong incentive to us and the partners on the movie to work on a sequel, and a strong incentive for StudioCanal to continue in this area [of ambitious family movies].”
StudioCanal has generally specialized in entertainment geared towards adults, with its recent film releases including the Oscar-nominated biopic The Imitation Game and crime/drama A Most Violent Year; the studio likewise has the gruff action/drama The Gunman arriving in the U.S. this month. However, the success of Paddington has motivated the company to up its family-friendly film ante to “one or two” big releases every year.
The next major family-friendly offering from StudioCanal will be Shaun the Sheep, Aardman Animation’s film adaptation of the TV series character, which opens in U.K. theaters this Friday. Shaun, like Paddington, has a larger built-in fanbase in the U.K. than in the U.S., but Aardman’s strong track record of providing quality entertainment has earned the studio a limited, yet loyal following in the States too (see: Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, etc.).
Similarly, a Paddington franchise isn’t something that’s going to scale the box office heights of big studio (read: Disney, DreamWorks, etc.) properties geared toward a family audience, nor is it likely to reach “event” levels of success. However, if any future sequels were to uphold the benchmark of quality set by King’s first installment, then Paddington could become another steady kid-friendly IP under StudioCanal’s umbrella.
Paddington is now playing in U.S. theaters; we’ll keep you posted on any future developments concerning a sequel.