Upcoming Aardman Features

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Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Ben » May 6th, 2015, 8:45 am

So we got Shaun The Sheep Movie over here in the UK some time back, and it's great to see it getting a US release later this summer. It's a fantastically visual treat that contains some brilliant invention and lots of wit and laugh out loud comedy - all done through the pantomime of the original Shaun series of shorts.

Why Aardman didn't make this with Sony, though, or why Sony didn't pick it up, is a mystery, since I thought their deal with them was ongoing. However, news today also points towards that deal having fallen through, since StudioCanal - the company that bankrolled Shaun, as well as Paddington - have announced they will make Nick Park's (who gets a fun Shaun cameo) next feature.

Don't get excited...it's not a new Wallace & Gromit, but it is interesting, as I wonder if Aardman isn't ploughing into some of its development it did when a project called Crood Awakening was in joint production with DreamWorks when their deal there was cancelled...

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/c ... ick-793794

Crood Awakening ended up staying with DWA and coming out as The Croods, with zero credit for Aardman, but this new film, Early Man, does sound pretty similar. It seems that they obviously have some ideas they didn't want to let go of, but my biggest surprise is that they're going it alone again with StudioCanal rather than with Sony.

After Arthur Christmas and The Pirates! I thought things were still good between them, but then Aardman went quiet until Shaun, which I could kind of see the reasons for going independent for. Maybe Sony now isn't so hungry for product what with all their franchises, and Aardman is most likely much happier at not having a bigger studio interference, but it does sound as if this is one deal that has quietly fizzled out.

That said, I'm now looking forward to seeing what Aardman does with the kind of material they were originally developing (with John Cleese, who did get credit on The Croods) before DWA took the property for their film. It's early days for Early Man, but I expect something more visually comedic will be the result, as per their and Park's previous efforts.

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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Randall » May 6th, 2015, 11:01 pm

I was wondering how Shaun the Sheep turned out. May have to check that out.

For Aardman fans (and speaking as someone who's owned Wallace and Gromit films since the VHS days), it feels like a mystery as to why they aren't being fought over by big studios. But it may be just as well, in some ways.

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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby James » August 6th, 2015, 12:00 pm


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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Dacey » August 6th, 2015, 4:40 pm

Looking forward to this whenever I have the chance to see it. Aardman has yet to make a movie that I didn't enjoy.
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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby EricJ » August 6th, 2015, 6:58 pm

Randall wrote:For Aardman fans (and speaking as someone who's owned Wallace and Gromit films since the VHS days), it feels like a mystery as to why they aren't being fought over by big studios. But it may be just as well, in some ways.


That was pretty much answered by their time at Dreamworks:
Dreamworks wanted another Wallace & Grommit on a plate; they got Chicken Run instead which wasn't quite, and then waited seven years for Nick Park to stop-motion another official W&G which didn't do the doorbusting business they expected even with the BBC shorts fans--
And when they couldn't fit Aardman to DWA house-CGI with Flushed Away (which wasn't that bad, just trampled in the theaters by dancing penguins and obnoxious foreigners), they'd "outlived their usefulness", and were kicked out faster than Disney kicked out Robert Zemeckis for not replicating his big money hit on a plate.

Nowadays, we just take them as their own little independent entity, and wait for them to surprise us whenever they can manage it.

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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby ShyViolet » August 6th, 2015, 7:36 pm

EricJ wrote:
That was pretty much answered by their time at Dreamworks:
Dreamworks wanted another Wallace & Grommit on a plate; they got Chicken Run instead which wasn't quite, and then waited seven years for Nick Park to stop-motion another official W&G which didn't do the doorbusting business they expected even with the BBC shorts fans--
And when they couldn't fit Aardman to DWA house-CGI with Flushed Away (which wasn't that bad, just trampled in the theaters by dancing penguins and obnoxious foreigners), they'd "outlived their usefulness",


Flushed Away was a co-production between DWA and Aardman (was animated here as well as overseas). Chicken Run was mostly Aardman but had some DWA (writing) input as well. Also, a big reason why the two parted was because of disagreements over how the Wallace and Gromit characters should be presented. (talking in American voices, etc...) And the CGI on FA was purposely made to resemble Claymation.
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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Dacey » August 6th, 2015, 8:53 pm

The split was over shares, simple as that. Wallace and Gromit failed to bring in the numbers DW was hoping for, and their stock went down. As far as I know, DW never wanted "American voices," but I could be wrong.

Also, at one point, Chicken Run was the highest grossing animated movie of all time that Disney didn't release. So they certainly got off to a strong start in terms of financial returns.
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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Ben » August 7th, 2015, 5:45 am

They did want Americanisms in the writing (such as for descriptive items that we may have slightly different words for), and which they largely got, although DW's biggest request was the shame of changing the title, to Curse Of The Were-Rabbit from...genius...The Great Vegetable Plot.

So glad Shaun is getting love over there, but I still don't know what happened to Aardman's deal with Sony. After a couple of moderate hits (not flops by any count), it's all gone quiet without even so much as an announcement.

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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Dacey » August 7th, 2015, 9:44 am

The opening day numbers for Shaun might explain that. Less than a million dollars and ninth place. :(
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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Ben » August 7th, 2015, 11:41 am

Proves that Rotten Tomatoes is not the beacon of audience reference, when a 100% fresh movie takes less than half than one that's currently holds less than a tenth of that score, and which is a creative and commercial megaflop in itself. :(

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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Dacey » August 7th, 2015, 1:53 pm

While it may be too late for Shaun (and, yes, the so-called "power" of RT scores is severely overestimated by people when it's convenient for the press), I'm hoping that the new Mission: Impossible manages to win the weekend over Fantfourstic. Now THERE'S a summer action movie.

And those numbers won't hurt Aardman (Pretty sure Shawn paid itself off internationally), but they may leave them looking for an American distributor...again!
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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Ben » August 7th, 2015, 4:44 pm

Shaun.

It's Shaun.


Yes, something like $120m worldwide, with a sequel on the cards. :)

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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby TitusTodd » August 10th, 2015, 1:28 am

Love Shaun the Sheep! There was so little promotion here in the USofA. That could not have helped. Box Office Mojo shows a $59 million foreign (outside of the US) take. Was most of that in the UK? Could also be US audiences just aren't into it. My kids and I love Wallace & Gromit (with established voices) as well as Shaun the Sheep (and my toddler got into Timmy Time). Just can't get enough of it! However, my wife just doesn't get into it.

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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby James » August 10th, 2015, 8:55 am

This came at the end of a busy summer movie season after I've already shelled out a ton of money to take my kids to several movies already (Avengers, Antman, F4, Tomorrowland,Jurassic World, Inside Out, Minions, Pixels). Could have done better at another time of the year maybe.

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Re: Upcoming Aardman Features

Postby Ben » August 10th, 2015, 12:56 pm

Or just stayed away from F4 and Pixels...! ;)