Paul King, director of Bunny and the Bull and a frequent helmsman on The Mighty Boosh TV show, brought his quirky storytelling sensibilities to the world of Michael Bond’s beloved Paddington Bear character, a couple years back. The film that resulted from that union of storyteller and property, titled simply Paddington, was a commercial success that took in $287 million worldwide in theaters against a $55 million budget – earning the adoration of critics everywhere in the process, as evidenced by the movie’s 98% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Naturally, co-producers Heyday Films and Studiocanal have since been quick to capitalize on that movie’s franchise potential by green-lighting its sequel.
It’s been reported that a third Paddington film may already be in the early planning stages too, but for now King’s focus is primarily on finishing Paddington 2 for a late 2017 theatrical release in the U.K. (and a potential early 2018 release in the U.S.). Principle photography on the Paddington sequel, with King again both writing and directing the film, is now officially underway, per an official press release from Heyday and Studiocanal – one that also confirms the addition of two noteworthy characters actors to the movie’s cast, too.
The cast of Paddington 2 now formally includes Hugh Grant (most recently seen in Florence Foster Jenkins) and Brendan Gleeson (recently seen in such films as Suffragette and In the Heart of the Sea). Here is the official statement about the news that was issued by King:
“It has been a complete joy to return to the world of ‘Paddington.’ It was such a delight to see his first big screen adventure embraced by audiences around the world, and I couldn’t be more excited about Hugh and Brendan joining the cast to bring his next outing to life.”
Plot-wise, Paddington 2 revolves around Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishsaw), now a “popular member of the local community,” and the Brown family – as led by Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins) – as they “embark upon a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen.” Paddington cast members such as Julie Walters and Peter Capaldi are reprising their roles from the first movie in the sequel too; meanwhile, Grant is playing Phoenix Buchanan, a “vain and charming acting legend who has fallen on hard times,” and Gleeson is playing “Knuckles” McGinty: a “notorious safe-cracker and strongman” who is surprised when he finds an ally in Paddington.
All things considered, it sounds as though Paddington 2 has most of the same elements in place – the offbeat humor, idiosyncratic characters with unexpected depth, and a storyline with a beating heart at its core – that made King’s first big screen take on the Paddington Bear character such a charming and delightful family-friendly romp. Much like the first Paddington caught a number of moviegoers off-guard by delivering an unexpectedly great film that was funny and touching in equal measure, perhaps Paddington 2 can become the next great sequel that meets and/or clears the bar for quality set by its acclaimed predecessor.
Paddington 2 arrives in U.K. theaters on November 10th, 2017. We’ll let you know when an official U.S. theatrical release date has been set.