Renowned Documentarian Taylor Morden Masterfully Captures the Unlikely Heartfelt 25-Year Journey That Built an Iconic Global Company With This Anticipated Film Available to Stream Today
ST. LOUIS, Oct. 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Build-A-Bear Entertainment releases today a new feature film, Unstuffed: A Build-A-Bear Story, directed by renowned documentarian, Taylor Morden (The Last Blockbuster). This clever and surprising mixed-media documentary examines the “why” behind Build-A-Bear Workshop’s ability to remain relevant through the decades by focusing on its mission of ‘adding a little more heart to life’ — one teddy bear at a time. The movie authentically explores the “inside stuff” through celebrity and corporate interviews, as Build-A-Bear’s remarkable tale is revealed. It starts with the entrepreneurial inspiration and fad-like success in the late 1990’s, to the tumultuous repercussions of the economic downturns and the global pandemic that ultimately required the company, founded as a mall-based retailer, to evolve while never losing its “heart” to survive.
Morden meaningfully weaves the story into a broader context by reflecting on the origins of the “teddy bear” and psychological importance of stuffed animals in childhood development as Unstuffed candidly exposes the backstories, events and decisions that eventually repositioned the brand to be the successful, diversified, multi-generational, pop culture fixture it is today. The release of the film coincides with Build-A-Bear’s celebration of over 225 million furry friends having been made around the world during its last quarter century, as it also anticipates the delivery of its third financially record-breaking year in a row. Unstuffed was created in cooperation with the company and produced by Patrick Hughes with Harvey Russell serving as Executive Producer, both in conjunction with Foundation Media Partners.
AN UNBEARLIEVABLE JOURNEY
Narrated by Jon Lovitz as a classic talking teddy bear, Unstuffed follows the furry footsteps of the single idea that reimagined not one, but two industries — retail and toys — when “Chief Executive Bear” Maxine Clark was inspired to launch an experiential mall-based store where kids could make their own stuffed animals. The story continues sharing how Build-A-Bear grew from a “lightbulb moment” into a beloved global brand largely due to the tenacity and spirit of the people who drove it.
“The 25 years of Build-A-Bear is really a story of heart, and filmmaker Taylor Morden wanted to capture both the ups and downs of our journey from a single mall retailer to a global iconic brand,” said Ms. Clark, Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop. “I really didn’t know what to expect, but I’m so proud of how Unstuffed came together.”
The film shifts gears with the transition of the leadership helm from Ms. Clark to new CEO Sharon Price John in 2013, and explores how she has led the organization through a turnaround and brand refresh during a critical juncture in the corporation’s history. “Unstuffed is a testament to the resilience that an organization can demonstrate when they truly believe in the value that the company brings to its guests through the creation of precious family moments, emotional memories and furry friends that last a lifetime,” noted Ms. John who also served as the Executive Producer on the film. “This is a front row seat to learn about Build-A-Bear’s remarkable story that all started with the humble belief in the importance of a teddy bear hug.”
EVERY BEAR HAS A TALE
Unstuffed gets to the “heart” of the brand’s lasting appeal recounting numerous personal tales of how Build-A-Bear has impacted many lives. From reality stars to superfans, the love for the iconic brand is infectious and can be felt through emotional memories and anecdotes with well-known celebrities and industry figures including Mario Lopez, Mike Tyson, Pete Holmes, Heather Dubrow, and Oprah Winfrey playing a role in the brand’s narrative.
The director also showcases the subsequent extended influence and impact Build-A-Bear has had on the culture at large. “Unstuffed: A Build-A-Bear Story is so much more than just the story of Build-A-Bear Workshop, although it is definitely that,” said Morden. “It’s for anyone who has ever loved a stuffed animal or held onto something sentimental from their childhood. The story of Build-A-Bear is really the story of the amazing people that brought the company to life and have kept it relevant for over 25 years. Getting to spend time in the world of Build-A-Bear is an experience I’ll never forget! And I have the teddy bears to prove it.”
Following its premiere at Toy Fair in New York City late September, Unstuffed: A Build-A-Bear Story is officially available to rent or own on all digital HD internet, cable, and satellite platforms in North America, as well as on DVD, starting on October 3, through Freestyle Digital Media. For more information, to see the trailer and where to watch, please visit www.buildabear.com/unstuffed-movie.
Build-A-Bear is a multi-generational global brand focused on its mission to “add a little more heart to life” appealing to a wide array of consumer groups who enjoy the personal expression in making their own “furry friends” to celebrate and commemorate life moments. Nearly 500 interactive brick-and-mortar experience locations operated through a variety of formats provide guests of all ages a hands-on entertaining experience, which often fosters a lasting and emotional brand connection. The company also offers engaging e-commerce/digital purchasing experiences on buildabear.com including its online “Bear-Builder”, the animated “Bear Builder 3D Workshop” and its age-gated, adult-focused “Bear Cave”. In addition, extending its brand power beyond retail, Build-A-Bear Entertainment, a subsidiary of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc., is dedicated to creating engaging content for kids and adults that fulfills the company’s mission, while the company also offers products at wholesale and in non-plush consumer categories via licensing agreements with leading manufacturers. Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. posted total revenue of $467.9 million in fiscal 2022. For more information, visit the Investor Relations section of buildabear.com.
About Build-A-Bear Entertainment
Build-A-Bear Entertainment, a division of Build-A-Bear Workshop, the IP-based company best known for its memorable and unique ‘build-your-own’ retail concept, has been actively creating a variety of content while cultivating the right relationships to bring this content to guests. The company has produced several feature-length films in conjunction with Foundation Media Partners, including Honey Girls, Deliver By Christmas and Christmas CEO. Both companies are working together on a number of projects, including the reimagination of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with Hello Sunshine. In addition, the highly anticipated documentary, Unstuffed: A Build-A-Bear Story, from award-winning director Taylor Morden, which chronicles the compelling journey of Build-A-Bear’s rise from a 1997 retail-tainment start-up, to a successful multi-million-dollar public company, will debut this fall.
About Freestyle Digital Media
The digital distribution unit of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group, Freestyle Digital Media, is a premiere multi-platform distributor with direct partnerships across all major cable, digital and streaming platforms. Capitalizing on a robust infrastructure, proven track record and a veteran sales team, Freestyle Digital Media is a true home for independent films. Recent releases include DEAR ZOE starring Sadie Sink from the hit Netflix series STRANGER THINGS, Jessica Capshaw and Theo Rossi, BEST SUMMER EVER the teen musical featuring a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities, produced by Jamie Lee Curtis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson, THE WEDDING YEAR starring Sarah Hyland and Anna Camp, THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH starring Danny Houston, BERSERK starring Nick Cannon, UNTOGETHER starring Jamie Doran, Jemima Kirke, Ben Mendelsohn, Alice Eve and Billy Crystal. Other Freestyle titles include the action-comedy BETTER START RUNNING starring Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons and Maria Bello, THE BACHELORS starring Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons, Julie Delpy and Odeya Rush, the award-winning documentary HONDROS produced by Jamie Lee Curtis and Jake Gyllenhaal, horror documentary DEMON HOUSE starring Zak Bagans, host of Travel Channel’s highest rated show Ghost Adventures, sci-fi thriller THE RECALL starring Wesley Snipes, MILES starring Molly Shannon and Paul Reiser.
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SOURCE Build-A-Bear Workshop