Winnie the Pooh, an animated feature-length film from Disney, arrives in U.S. theaters on July 15, the first big-screen Pooh story since Pooh’s Heffalump Movie in 2005. The film takes place in the fabled Hundred-Acre-Wood and is based on three original Pooh stories by A.A. Milne: In Which Eeyore Loses His Tail and Pooh Finds One and In Which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole,both first published in Winnie-the-Pooh (1926); and In Which Rabbit Has a Busy Day and We Learn What Christopher Robin Does in the Mornings, which appeared in The House at Pooh Corner (1928). The movie is directed by Stephen Anderson and Don Hall, with John Cleese narrating, Jim Cummings voicing the roles of Pooh and Tigger, and Craig Ferguson as the voice of Owl. The movie features music throughout, including three songs performed by actress Zooey Deschanel, and is animated in the classic hand-drawn style ofolder films like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), though some segments also feature the use of CGI.
In book news, Disney launched a new Pooh publishing program in May with titles geared toward both children and collectors. Disney Press released A Day of Sweet Surprises, a retelling of the film with an audio CD; Party In the Wood, a sticker storybook; two Winnie the Pooh readers—Forever Friends and Pooh’s Honey Adventure—as well as A Hundred-Acre-Wood Treasury, based on the film, and a touch-and-feel book called Surprise Tails. Disney Editions has also updated the keepsake book Winnie the Pooh: A Celebration of a Silly Old Bear (2000) to include information about the new movie.
New licensed Pooh titles from other publishers include Winnie the Pooh: Play-A-Sound from Publications International and DK’s Winnie the Pooh: The Essential Guide, which pubbed in May; a Winnie the Pooh Record-a-Book arrives in July from Reader’s Digest. Disney reports that its Winnie the Pooh publishing programs “have remained strong globally over the years,” with Pooh books and magazines sold in 86 countries and in 40 languages. Sales on Pooh products have also spiked in advance of the movie, with Surprise Tails as the biggest seller.
Though the release is a few weeks away, fans can visit Disney’s Winnie the Pooh Web site, to view the film trailer and other videos, take a quiz to find out which Pooh character they are most like, explore an interactive map of the Hundred-Acre-Wood; play several games; and even access the characters’ Facebook pages. Winnie the Pooh has also entered the world of apps: the first Pooh app, Winnie the Pooh: What’s a Bear to Do?, lets readers piece together puzzles while Pooh searches for honey. It has been downloaded more than 125,000 times since its release from Disney Digital Books last October. Not too shabby for a silly old bear.