Courtesy of Everett Collection
Move over Paddington, and beat it Winnie the Pooh! There’s a new talking bear coming to the big screen — voiced by four-time Emmy-winner Peter Dinklage.
Dinklage is set to voice one of the lead characters — a “mysterious and charismatic bear” — in the upcoming animated feature “This Was Our Pact,” based on the best-selling graphic novel by Ryan Andrews.
Described as “a magical family adventure,” “This Was our Pact” centers on a young boy named Ben and his classmates. It is set on the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. The youngsters have made a pact to find out if the legend about the lanterns soaring off to the Milky Way and turning into stars is true. Ultimately, they find themselves on an extraordinary journey filled with wondrous new sights and strange characters (including Dinklage’s talking bear) with only two rules: No one looks back and no one turns for home.
Dinklage, who previously voiced roles in “The Croods,” “The Angry Birds” and “Ice Age” franchises, is set to produce the animated feature with his and David Ginsberg’s production company Estuary Films.
The project is a collaboration between Estuary Films and veteran animator Ken Duncan’s Duncan Studio team, with additional development financing and support from Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana. Rob Hollocks, Josh Feldman and Estuary’s Brad Saunders also serve as producers.
Will Collins, screenwriter of Apple TV Plus’ Golden Globe-nominated “Wolfwalkers” and the Oscar-nominated “Song of the Sea,” will write the script.
“I’m delighted to be a part of the team tasked with adapting ‘This Was Our Pact’ into an animated feature,” Collins said in a statement. “Ryan Andrews created a gem of a coming-of-age story which takes the reader on a journey through a unique, mysterious and beautiful place. From the outset I knew these boys, I knew the joy and pain of their friendship, and I willed that friendship to triumph with every turn of the page. It’s a pleasure to be collaborating with Ken Duncan and the talented team at Duncan Studio and Estuary Films to bring this story to life.”
“’This Was Our Pact’ is a fantastic tale full of twists and turns, but at its heart is the relationships between the characters, and their developed friendship. We’re excited to capture the unique qualities of the book, in the visual style as well as storytelling — it is utterly captivating and enchanting,” Duncan added. “With Will Collins coming on as our writer, we know this will be a film that will thrill the many fans of the graphic novel and help Ryan Andrews’ wonderful work discover new audiences.”
The new project marks the second feature film in the development pact between Duncan Studio and Nelvana, after “Mother Nature,” a CG-animated action-adventure set in a futuristic society and that explores its relationship to the natural world. Duncan Studio, the award-winning indie animation studio behind the 2D animation sequences for Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” shifted into original production in 2019 with the launch of in-house development and production division Duncan Originals. The Pasadena-based studio also worked on “9,” “Nut Job” and “Next Gen.”
Founded in 2016, Dinklage and Ginsberg’s Estuary Films has produced a number of the star’s recent projects, including “I Think We’re Alone Now,” (with Dinklage and Elle Fanning) and the Emmy-nominated “My Dinner with Herve” (with Jamie Dornan). The company is currently in pre-production on the feature “American Dreamer” with Dinklage and Shirley MacLaine. Estuary Films has an array of projects in development with Legendary, Sony, Netflix, Apple, TNT, AMC, FX and Paramount Television.
Dinklage is repped by CAA. Collins is represented by UTA and, in the U.K., Casaraotto Ramsey & Associates. Andrews is represented by APA and Linnan Literary Management.
Variety's Angelique Jackson contributed to this post.