The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that producer David Heyman (of the Harry Potter movies) and director Paul King (of British TV comedy The Mighty Boosh) are working on a “modern take” on Paddington Bear.
For anyone deprived of quality literature as a child: Paddington is a beloved hat-wearing Peruvian bear, so named when he is found at Paddington Station by Mr. and Mrs. Brown. He was voted Britain’s “Favourite Ever Animated Character” in March of this year, and the books in which he features have sold more than 35 million copies since A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond, was first published in 1958. The planned film has been discussed since 2007, when Variety reported that Warner Bros. had Heyman working on the project; the now-confirmed version will be from French studio StudioCanal instead. There are a dozen books in the original Paddington series (and over one hundred total, across all reading levels) but the film, which will feature a CGI Paddington alongside live actors, won’t be based on any specific one. We’re willing to bet the script will emphasize Paddington’s acquisition of his famous blue duffel coat and his love of marmalade, rather than his more recent adventures: in 2008’s Paddington Here and Now, arguably the closest to a “modern take” on the character so far, Paddington comes under suspicion over the legality of his immigration status.
StudioCanal executive Olivier Courson has said that Heyman’s record with British children’s literature was a selling point for the project, and we hope Paddington ends up made with Potter-level care, especially when it comes to animation. After all, perhaps more than any other bear in literature (at least outside Winnie the Pooh or a biography of the first President Roosevelt), the character of Paddington is associated with something tangible and cuddly. His popularity, especially in the U.S., is tied to a plush toy introduced in the 1970s. It’s very hard to make a computer graphic look snuggle-worthy—and even glass eyes can fall into the uncanny valley.