Shaun The Sheep Gets A Spin-Off

Here come the Inglourious Baastards

Like the Scorpion King and Richard B. Riddick, only about 6000 per cent fluffier, Aardman's knitwear icon Shaun the Sheep is getting his own spin-off movie. Shaun The Sheep - for that is what it's called - pools the Bristol animation house's skills with the considerable financial muscle of StudioCanal in a deal that will see the Close Shave's star joining Wallace and Gromit in the stop-motion movie pantheon.

The story, penned by Richard Starzak and Madagascar writer Mark Burton, sees the mischief-making ruminant land his farmer in a world of trouble. With the old man led away from the farm, Shaun is forced to take on a rescue mission to the big city with his flock in tow. Before you can say "adopt motorbike display formation", the fluffy posse are in deep on a daredevil, lamb-chop-or-glory adventure.

StudioCanal will no doubt be keen to let Aardman get on with striking its trademark balance of helter-skelter exuberance and knowing wit. In partnering up with the Bristol-based animators, the studio has followed in the auspicious footsteps of DreamWorks Animation (Chicken Run, Flushed Away, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit) and Sony Animation (Arthur Christmas, Pirates! In An Adventured With Scientists). "We're really happy to work with Aardman", says StudioCanal CEO Olivier Courson, "and join the flock. Shaun is a character you love at first sight whatever your age."

With a Shaun franchise already in place thanks to a successful TV series, there's gold in them thar hills. The prospecting business starts with Cannes and hopefully international distribution deals juicy enough to keep Shaun in those baa-tinis. (Sorry.)