A.A. Milne’s beloved stuffed bear and his motley forest friends are getting a new big screen treatment from Baboon Animation and IQI Media in a prequel to the classic book Winnie-the-Pooh (1926). The original story collection entered the public domain as of January 1, 2022.
DreamWorks alumni Mike de Seve (Madagascar, Monsters vs. Aliens) and John Reynolds (The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show) are attached as co-writer/director and writer, respectively. “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,” says Reynolds.
Multi-Emmy-winning animation writing team Baboon (Angry Birds, Gigantosaurus) have teamed up with IQI, a content incubator lab and subsidiary of Winvest Group, to produce the prequel feature. Another former DreamWorks colleague, 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,” adds de Seve, who directed on the original Beavis and Butt-head series and feature, story consulted on Shrek 2 and now helms Baboon. “The whole gang is hilarious, and are even more hilarious as kids, we’re finding out.”
With the recent reboots of classic storybook properties Peter Rabbit and Paddington finding box office success, the Baboon crew hopes to add its kids’ entertainment know-how to the silly bear’s familiar charms to create characters with cross-generational appeal.
The feature film is being planned for release in 2024, to be followed immediately by an animated series.
As for what Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood squad first illustrated by E.H. Shepard will look like with a modern animated makeover, Kelly advises: “Brace yourself for a surprise.”