The stop-motion animated TV series Shaun The Sheep first aired on the BBC’s CBBC in 2007 and has been sold in over 170 countries. France’s Studiocanal will finance the feature version of the popular kids show from Aardman Animations. Studiocanal will also distribute in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand and handle international sales.The family film, written and directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton, will see the titular character and his flock venture into the big city to rescue their farmer.
This is the first collaboration between Studiocanal and Aardman and will be one of Studiocanal’s lead pre-sales titles in Cannes, where I understand the company will dedicate a day to Shaun.
The latest feature from the UK’s Wallace & Gromit gang Aardman Animations arrives in the US in partnership with Sony Pictures Animation. Directed by Peter Lord and co-directed by Jeff Newitt, the stop-motion 3D adventure is based on books by Gideon Defoe, who also scripted. With the voices of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Imelda Staunton and David Tennant, it opens March 30.
Powerhouse public relations group DDA and specialist PR agency Blueprint are creating a 50/50 joint-venture to be known as DDA Blueprint. The new outfit is designed to primarily handle the international and UK television and theater industries. A stand-alone company, it will be headed up by Blueprint PR founders Janet Balmforth and Aimee Norman, with DDA CEO Lawrence Atkinson and COO John Stannard serving as non-executive directors. All of Blueprint’s existing and future business will be folded into DDA Blueprint. Operations will be based at DDA’s London HQ.
Blueprint PR theatre head Kate Morley will lead the venture’s theatre activity which includes media campaigns for both theater companies and individual plays and musicals, from the West End to regional theater. Clients include The Donmar Warehouse, Bristol Old Vic and Sheffield theaters. The company has also been active in trade and consumer television publicity with clients like Aardman Animations and Tiger Aspect Productions.
In a statement, DDA’s Atkinson and Stannard said “DDA Blueprint will offer tangible benefits to both its existing and future clients through a combination of extended reach and increased skillset and we are looking forward to working closely with Janet, Aimee and Kate on growing DDA Blueprint into a successful company in its own right. DDA Blueprint is perfectly positioned to provide an additional level of strategic counsel for DDA’s existing motion picture clients, in particular for those who have developed TV businesses of their own.”
Aardman Animations, the UK company behind Wallace & Gromit, may be forced to make its next TV cartoon series in either Ireland or Germany. Miles Bullough, head of broadcast of Bristol-based Aardman, tells me he may have no option but to produce Ploo, Aardman’s latest $3 million-$5 million pre-school animation series, outside of Britain. This is because unlike Canada, France and other countries, there are no UK tax breaks for animated TV. It hopes Chancellor George Osborne, the politician in charge of UK finances, will announce a tax break later this month. Aardman is lobbying for the UK film tax credit — worth 15%-20% of the cost of production — to be extended to children’s animation. The company must decide whether to make Ploo overseas by the end of March. For a company as British as Wensleydale cheese and afternoon tea, it is a decision Bullough hates having to make. “For us to consider moving overseas is wrong, but unless we get a level playing field we will have to consider going,” he said. “Prime Minister David Cameron and arts minister Ed Vaizey both came to visit and gave us a sympathetic hearing, but you never know with politicians.” Read More »
Here’s a trailer for Sony Pictures Animation’s Arthur Christmas, the first pic to see the light under a three-year deal with Wallace & Gromit producer Aardman Animations. It premieres November 23. James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton do the voice work on the 3D film, which shows just how Santa is able to pull off Christmas each year.