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ANIMATION UK

Dreamworks and Aardman divorce

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The rumours spread last November about the eventual split between Hollywood studio Dreamworks and Bristol-based studio Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace and Gromit, have just been confirmed.

The divorce between the two companies was brought about by the disappointing box office results of Aardman’s latest feature, Flushed Away [+see also:
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, which cost the US studio well over $100m to make but grossed “only” $63.4m in the US and $107m internationally.

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This followed the relatively poor performance of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit [+see also:
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film profile
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($56m in the US plus $136.3m worldwide) in spite of its huge critical acclaim and the 2005 Oscar for Best Animated Film.

Yet the five-picture deal sealed in 1999 between the US studio run by Jeffrey Katzenberg and UK-based Aardman Animations had a promising start with Chicken Run, which grossed $106m in the US and $118m internationally.

Both Chicken Run and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit [+see also:
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used Aardman’s distinctive claymation characters, unlike Flushed Away [+see also:
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film profile
]
, which used CGI and was shot entirely in Los Angeles.

Now that the partnership has ended, the rights to Crood Awakening, the fourth Aardman project part of the five-picture deal, will revert to Dreamworks.

“While I will always be a fan and an admirer of Aardman’s work, our different business goals no longer support each other”, commented Katzenberg. Aardman owners Peter Lord and David Sproxton stated: “Both our companies are aware that our ambitions have moved apart and it feels like the right time to move on. Aardman has an ambitious slate of feature film projects in development and we will announce our future production and distribution plans shortly”.

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