He’s been around for more than 90 years, but Winnie the Pooh’s never been afraid of a makeover. His latest look arrives in theaters on Friday in “Christopher Robin,” which plops animated characters into a live-action world.
The year is 1949, and the imaginative title character is now a grown man (Ewan McGregor), working as an efficiency manager for a luggage company. While struggling to balance work and family, he’s reunited with Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang. Only then does he rediscover what really matters in life.
The process for designing Pooh and his friends began with the film’s time period.
“The key for me [was] that this is a bear that was created in the ’20s and feels like a well-hugged, used teddy bear that Christopher Robin was playing with in his childhood,” director Marc Forster tells The Post.
Forster, who’s returning to the magical realism of his 2004 film “Finding Neverland,” tasked character-concept artist Michael Kutsche with evolving the design of Pooh and his pals, including Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. Forster wanted to mesh the look of E.H. Shepard’s illustrations from A.A. Milne’s 1920s books — inspired by Milne’s own son, Christopher Robin — with Disney’s early drawings from the 1960s, when the company bought the rights to the characters.
Another inspiration for Kutsche were Christopher Robin Milne’s own stuffed animals, which are on display at the main Fifth Avenue branch of the New York Public Library. The artist also examined the scraggly fur of the beasts in Spike Jonze’s “Where the Wild Things Are” and looked at vintage Steiff teddy bears.
“Marc wanted to have something that has a certain seriousness and slightly melancholic appeal,” says Kutsche.
That’s translated through the stuffed animals’ aged fabric and faded coloring, as well as their glass-bead eyes.
“The eyes feel kind of a bit sleepy and dreamy,” says Kutsche, noting that they help audiences suspend disbelief.