Paddington Bear has sat on both the Jedi Council and the Iron Throne. He contemplated popping a red or blue pill, tried his level best to save Private Ryan, and witnessed the start of something new during a New Year’s karaoke session. When a Scandinavian cult crowned its latest May Queen, Paddington stood right by her side. He trained with Maverick. He sang in the rain. He, too, wanted to have what Sally was having.
If you haven’t a clue what we’re talking about, you’re probably not yet familiar with the image editing wizardry of Jason Chou—better known in internet circles by his social media handle, @JaytheChou, or simply as the guy who Photoshops Paddington into a different movie or TV show every day until he forgets.
As of July 20, 2022, he had just hit day 498 of the project (Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West).
How It Started
Chou is currently attending Los Angeles’s Gnomon School of VFX, Games, and Animation, whose graduates have gone on to help bring many a Marvel program (among other things) from the green screen to your screen. When he isn’t studying to become a VFX artist, Chou spends some of his free time on Reddit, which is where the Paddington project was conceived.
The inspiration behind it was more of a lightning storm than a single strike, and Chou would be the first to tell you that “it’s not really an original idea.” The format evolved from another Redditor’s artistic undertaking: to draw Twitch streamer Hasan Piker as a different Pokémon every day until he played Pokémon on a livestream.
“I thought it was a very nice and polite way to demand something,” Chou tells Mental Floss.
Chou didn’t kickstart his ursine spin-off series with any demand in mind. It was just a cheeky way to contribute to one film-focused subreddit known for its obsession with the Paddington movie franchise.
On March 9, 2021, Chou debuted his first Paddington post in the subreddit: an edited still from Godzilla vs. Kong in which a laughably mammoth Paddington, paws on hips, benignly surveys a clash between the two legendary monsters. Not only was the movie premiering that month, but Chou had also recently seen the meme that shows Godzilla and Kong fleeing from an outsized, bat-wielding Shiba Inu.
The following day, Paddington joined the Justice League. On day seven, he chose his own kind over Leonardo DiCaprio during a man-vs.-beast moment in The Revenant. Chou began sharing the ’shops on Twitter, too, where they frequently went viral.
“It felt great and also weird at the same time,” he says. “The reactions are something you don’t have control over. I definitely don’t think I’m famous. But it feels really good when people message me telling me that my posts have made them smile.”
How It’s Going
Despite Hollywood’s deep catalog, the hardest part of the project is choosing the perfect program to plop the beloved bear into each day. “Now it takes around an hour to finish a Photoshop and 90 percent of that time is me trying to find a movie,” Chou explains. “So I started expanding into TV shows and I’m starting to think about video games. There was never a set rule of only using films.”
Chou doesn’t often schedule posts in advance; so if a new trailer starts making waves on a given afternoon, don’t be surprised to see Paddington show up in a still from it later that night. He also launched a Patreon, where paid subscribers can submit requests for specific shows and movies. To make sure he’s not covering the same territory twice, Chou references Letterboxd user Riot Jarick Simbol’s list of all the projects he has already featured.
In a win for procrastinators everywhere, some of Chou’s most successful posts also happen to be the ones he created “at the very last minute.” His personal favorites include Marriage Story (2019), Interstellar (2014), and anything in the Halloween franchise. He has never actually forgotten to post, per se, but a power outage did once keep him offline for a weekend. His dedication has also interrupted his social life on at least one occasion.
“I have an embarrassing story where I was at a party late at night and all I could think about was, ‘Oh no, I don’t have access to a computer, my streak is going to end,’” Chou says. “But luckily my friend had a computer I could use and I made one right on time.”
What has turned into a 16-month-long (and counting) commitment might seem extreme to anyone who doesn’t understand the Paddington hype. But Chou’s own feelings toward the anthropomorphic marmalade fanatic are far from lukewarm: 2017’s Paddington 2 is his favorite movie.
The film’s stint in Rotten Tomatoes’s 100% Club gave him a well-earned “moment of ‘I told you so,’” he says. “A lot of friends told me, ‘I finally saw Paddington 2 and I get it now.’” So how did he feel when one bad review knocked its score down to 99 percent?
“I didn’t really mind. It wasn’t the end of the world,” he says. “We still got the third film coming out.” (“And the Oscar goes to Paddington 3,” reads his Twitter bio.)