Paddington 3 has announced its name — Paddington in Peru — and a new director, Dougal Wilson, but he already has two big problems to solve. Based on Michael Bond’s favorite children’s books, the first two Paddington films received critical acclaim and huge commercial success. The second sequel starring Ben Whishaw as the main bear from Peru has been long-awaited since the release of Paddington 2 in 2017.
After delays and the departure of original director Paul King — he remains on board as a creative worker — the third Paddington film finally enters production, and its story apparently brings the character home. It is not yet known whether the Brown family will join Paddington on his trip to Peru. Also, nothing is known about who will follow in the footsteps of Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as the villain Paddington 3. However, it is clear that in the third part of the trilogy about Paddington there are already a couple of very difficult actions.
It is well known that sequels are difficult to do right, and usually their distribution in modern cinema is due to commercial, not narrative potential. “Paddington 2” bucked the trend of disappointing sequels, creating a film even better than the original. However, such a feat can be difficult to replicate a second time, especially with a new director and a story that seems to be abandoning what made the first two installments so successful.
While Paul King and his Paddington writing team, consisting of Simon Farnaby and Mark Burton, are still involved with the third film, one can acutely feel King’s absence as a director. Producer David Heyman has confirmed that King will not return for the filming of the third film back in 2018; King is engaged in post-production of the prequel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” “Wonka” starring Timothy Chalamet. While King’s considerable talents are still evident in the storytelling stage, he has also mastered well the smooth blend of visuals and slapstick comedy that defined Paddington’s series. New director Dougal Wilson also did something similar with a boxer dog jumping on a trampoline in a famous commercial he shot for the British department store chain John Lewis. However, “Paddington 3” will be the director’s first feature film, and this is such a high-profile project for a debutant director that it can become a poisoned chalice.
The second challenge for Paddington 3 is a change of location. It’s not surprising that the creative team wants to change something after the success of Paddington 2 (a contender for the “best film of all time”). However, the appeal of Paddington films lies in how positively they portray the impact of the migrant experience. Paddington is a migrant from Peru who has a fundamentally positive influence on everyone who meets him, except perhaps the villains. At a time when suspicion of “others” and distrust of refugees and migrant workers led the UK to leave the European Union, Paddington 2 was a tonic.
Changing the location can also play into the hands of the franchise. As Britain becomes increasingly isolated after Brexit, the Browns and Paddington’s trip to Peru may provide a more global view of the situation. This could turn the comedy about the clash of cultures with the integration of Paddington into British society upside down, and the integration of the Browns into Peruvian society was the source of the comedy of the last sequel of Paddington. If that were the case, Paddington 3 could overcome these difficulties by telling the story of the Brown family and Paddington as citizens of a global community, while retaining the warmth of humor and spirit characteristic of the two previous films.