U.K.-based studio Aardman Animations has signed a four-movie development deal with DreamWorks SKG estimated to be worth around US$250 million. The deal will secure the future of the company’s 150-strong feature film workforce for at least a decade.
Aardman’s director of development Michael Rose says, ‘The deal is very significant for us. It allows the company to plan with confidence in a very volatile business. It also means we can train and develop our talent base in a secure environment.’
The four-film deal comes in the midst of an existing Aardman/DreamWorks feature production called Chicken Run, which is due to debut in June next year. The film is a POW spoof that tells the story of a group of chickens plotting to escape from a farm in the north of England.
Rose says the DreamWorks deal will allow Aardman to ‘make films that can be seen by the widest possible box office audience. We didn’t want to see our films go straight to video. This gives us access to DreamWorks’ creative expertise and its financing and marketing muscle.’
Aardman’s commitment to movies will not mean a reduction in the volume of its successful commercials or TV work, says Rose. The company recently debuted a new 52 x five-minute TV animation series called Rabbits! at Cartoon Forum. He claims the response from potential partners was strong.
The next feature film lined up by the studio is tentatively titled The Tortoise and the Hare. Aardman will roll straight into production after Chicken Run, meaning that ‘the studio won’t have to go dark,’ he says.