Film company StudioCanal took a big risk in adapting Michael Bond's beloved Paddington bear storybooks for the big screen. Not only did they dare to add a villain (the slinky Nicole Kidman) and some real menace to the story, but the process of creating a live-action/animation hybrid movie is painstaking and expensive.

Ben Whishaw lends his voice to the young bear, Paddington
Ben Whishaw took over the voice of Paddington in mid 2014 after Colin FIrth left the project

Now that the film has been in UK cinemas for a week, it appears that the investment has paid off. Buoyed by praise-filled reviews from critics (the film has a staggering 97% positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes), 'Paddington' had the second biggest opening this year for a family film (after 'The Lego Movie'). It may be StudioCanal's most expensive UK production, but it also gave them their best-ever opening weekend. It's already their biggest box office hit ever, and it's only getting started.

More: Read the 'Paddington' Movie Review

Now the film looks certain to build its audience in the run-up to Christmas, fending off competition from the already playing festive Brit-com 'Nativity 3', and its clout seems strong enough to face off against British holiday comedy 'Get Santa' this weekend as well as the more targeted and much bigger 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' the following week. 

Watch the trailer for 'Paddington' here:

And it can hardly be surprising that there's already talk of a sequel. If the studio can keep the quality high by using arthouse filmmakers like this movie's writer-director Paul King ('Bunny and the Bull'), 'Paddington' feels like a franchise that can run for a long time.

This assumes this film has the same strong opening when it hits America in January. And there's no reason to think it won't.

More: A Very Naughty Bear? Paddington Movie Gets PG Rating From BBFC Thanks To 'Innuendo' And 'Dangerous Behaviour'