We’re Going on a Bear Hunt—the animated co-pro from London-based Walker Productions and Lupus Films—experienced massive broadcast success this past holiday season.
The half-hour special was commissioning broadcaster Channel 4′s most-watched program in 2016, attracting more than eight million viewers between its Christmas Eve and Christmas Day airings. IP owner Walker Books is now looking to capitalize on Bear Hunt‘s success with a comprehensive year-round consumer products program as the special rolls out worldwide.
“Although Channel 4 aired it at Christmas, it’s not a Christmas show,” says Julia Posen, EVP and commercial director of group rights and development for Walker Productions and Walker Books. “The theme is really about family, and the special was created carefully so that it could be shown throughout the year.”
Home entertainment partner Universal is launching the DVD this month, and the special is currently available on Amazon Prime in the US. Additionally, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is set to air later this year on a number of international broadcasters, including France’s Canal+ and ABC Australia.
“From a licensing point of view, we got into overdrive really early on,” Posen says. “We locked down as many deals as we possibly could.”
One of the first licensing agreements was with Aurora, whose plush products reached UK retailers in November, several weeks before We’re Going on a Bear Hunt premiered on Christmas Eve.
“It was truly intense,” Posen says of developing the products while simultaneously producing the film. “It was quite a tricky process, where you’re asking directors and animators to stop what they’re doing and imagine the way the bear would sit, or move, or feel—things they might not necessarily have been worrying about at that moment in the film—because they were things we had to worry about and anticipate for product.”
Aurora will be releasing new plush products this year, and a number of other licensees will soon roll out products including games (Channel 4 Gaming), apparel (Paul Dennicci, Cooneen By Design) and stationery (Portico Designs). Following the brand’s success in the UK, a CP program will soon launch in Australia.
Additionally, a number of new books inspired by We’re Going on a Bear Hunt will be released by Walker Books in April. They will be aimed at older children and pick up on the special’s themes of exploration and appreciating nature. These titles will join We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, the book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury that inspired the special.