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It appears that more haphazard hijinks are in store for one classic duffel-coated curious creature. Production company Studiocanal are reportedly moving forward with a sequel to the recent live-action Paddington film. Will London be able to survive the unwittingly destructive wrath of one of children’s literature’s most famous ursine stumblebums?
According to a scoop report from Variety, Studiocanal are seeing a prospective Paddington sequel as a guaranteed money maker and are not even looking back, with negotiations having already begun with Paddington producer David Heyman for another round of bear-based chaos. According to Olivier Courson, the chairman and CEO of Studiocanal, Paddington, coming off generally positive reception, is now being seen as the start of a new family-based strategy for the French-based studio:
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.)
While the bear film first squatted in the proverbial woods of the U.S. film market back on January 16 rather quietly, it has achieved the status of being the highest grossing family film ever to hit the States to not be released by a domestic studio. (One that would be typically represented by a set of mouse ears.) However, it’s been a different story over in the U.K., where a virtual Paddingtonmania has hit the former British Empire anywhere the sun currently never sets; notably with its nominations for "outstanding British film" and "best screenplay" at the BAFTA Film Awards -- a pretty high distinction for a CGI-heavy family film. With a global take currently sitting at about $208.1 million USD ($57.3 million coming from the U.S.), the film has clearly proven itself to be a money making franchise for which sequel talk is more than feasible.
On the flip side, if there is any obstacle standing in the way of Paddington’s bear boots becoming a bankable box-office binge: costs. Seeing as the film’s titular centerpiece is an expensively-animated anthropomorphic animal CGI character, a lot of the film’s estimated $55 million budget was spent to ensure that Paddington would be animated adequately enough to jump around and randomly raise insurance rates. While the film clearly made what would be considered a healthy profit, it also has certain variables to consider, seeing as its primary marketplace in the U.K. is significantly smaller than the more competitive shark tank of the U.S. box-office arena.
If Studiocanal’s ambitions with Paddington 2 means getting a firmer foothold in the U.S. market, then that will mean more money spent on costly promotional print and advertising. Additionally, they will yield shared distribution costs, for which Courson even implied the studio may even waive minimum guarantees in exchange for the promotional costs being handled by U.S. partners. However, according to Courson, all of the prospective expenditures for such an expansion are worth the effort:
Paddington has been our biggest bet. Even the development costs, such as creating the bear, were significant. But it shows we can be ambitious in this area of family entertainment, even if it brings us into more direct competition with U.S. studios.
Would a sequel centering on Paddington be able to make a more significant dent in the vastly more lucrative U.S. market? (Where an Internet meme seems to reflect that audiences find the new film’s CG bear extremely creepy and even subliminally sexual.) Studiocanal seems to think so, and besides the release of Paddington 2: Pad Harder (not the official title…yet), they are moving forward with other family friendly properties like Shaun the Sheep and Robinson Crusoe as part of a broader strategy for a prospectively G-rated British invasion of America.
Paddington is currently at theaters, however, no release date has been sloppily smudged on the board in marmalade just yet.
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