A prequel feature and series inspired by British writer A.A. Milnes children’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh is under development, in a joint production between U.S. companies Baboon Animation and IQI Media.
The productions are being spearheaded by DreamWorks alumnae Mike de Seve (Madagascar, Monsters vs. Aliens), who will direct, and co-write with John Reynolds (The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show).
“We’re telling the surprising origin story of the ‘silly young bear’ and his friends, when they were still kids, in a way designed to connect with 21st-century kids,” said Reynolds.
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Their Brooklyn-based company Baboon Animation, the previous credits of which include Angry Birds and Gigantosaurus, is teaming up with IQI Media,a Los Angeles-based content incubator lab and subsidiary of Winvest Group.
DreamWorks alum Charlene Kelly (Next Gen), now CIO at Winvest, and Khiow Hui Lim, the founder of IQI and CSO of Winvest, will executive-produce.
“A.A. Milne’s bear has aged gracefully in the last hundred years,” said Kelly. “But what happened, back-when, that made him and his pals who they are in the book? A heck of a big adventure, that’s what – one that needs a big screen. Audiences will be transported to somewhere they never expected.”
“I think this unsinkable young cub is totally relatable for today’s kids, with his hell-bent craving for honey and his ludicrous schemes to get it,” said de Seve, who directed on the original Beavis and Butt-Head series and feature and story-consulted on Shrek 2.
“The whole gang is hilarious, and are even more hilarious as kids, we’re finding out.”
Noting the success of the reboots of Peter Rabbit and Paddington, the Baboon team is applying its knowledge of entertainment for today’s kids to create characters they hope will resonate with all generations.
Baboon and IQI have set a planned release date of 2024 for the feature, followed immediately by the series.
The project has been unveiled less than a year after the original 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh book entered the public domain in the United States on January 1, 2022, although it remains protected under copyright laws in other countries, including the U.K.
This means that Disney, which acquired the rights to the original Winnie-the-Pooh book in 1961 no longer has exclusive rights to make works based on the book.
Disney’s cartoon interpretations of the characters are still protected by copyright, however, other productions cannot use depictions resembling the company’s version of the world-renowned bear.
Baboon and IQI Media have yet to reveal an image of their version of Winnie-the-Pooh.
“You’ll see,” said Kelly. “Brace yourself for a surprise.”
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