'Paddington' film brings 1950s bear to 21st century London

Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:03pm EDT
 
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - He may be among the world's best beloved bears, but he also is one of the most endangered in the new movie "Paddington", in which Nicole Kidman co-stars as a taxidermist looking to complete her collection of rare animals.

Due for release later this year, the live-action feature film based on the marmalade-loving bear from darkest Peru, has been a long time coming.

Created by author Michael Bond in the 1950s, some 30 million books following the bear's various adventures have been sold worldwide. Turned into a popular television series, Paddington, with his distinctive Wellington boots, old hat and duffle coat, was portrayed by a stop-motion puppet. A 1976 movie was made with conventional animation.

The new film, though, bristles with the latest technology, including a computer-generated Paddington who, for the cast that also includes Sally Hawkins ("Blue Jasmine"), Hugh Bonneville ("Downton Abbey") and Julie Walters ("Harry Potter"), was represented during filming by a stick.

"We had the good fortune of spending a few weeks in rehearsal together ... so we were able to get used to the 'spirit of the bear'," Bonneville said at a press screening of excerpts from the movie, which will be released in Britain on November 28 and in the United States on Christmas Day.

With the starry cast, and with French producer StudioCanal backing the film directed by the young British director Paul King ("The Mighty Boosh"), there are high hopes this could be the start of another worldwide conquest for the bear that has been a favorite of British children for decades, but might not be as well known in the United States as Winnie-the-Pooh.

OUTSIDER   Continued...