It seemed like a no-brainer when Dreamworks grabbed Aardman Animation for a five picture deal in 1999. The company that produced Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts had four Oscars on its shelf and the affection of people around the world. But Dreamworks decided to end the deal yesterday after a string of under performing movies.
The partnership started well when Chicken Run made $106million in the US and a further $118million around the world, but Wallace and Gromit and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Flushed Away both hit the US box office with a plasticiney splat, taking $56million and $63million respectively, despite glowing reviews.
In a statement, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Exec of Dreamworks Animation, said ""I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with Peter Lord, David Sproxton, Nick Park and the Aardman team for almost ten years and highly respect their storytelling and filmmaking talents. I am proud of the work we have created together and also greatly admire Aardman's passion and expertise for stop motion filmmaking and brilliant storytelling...Today, DreamWorks Animation is focused on producing two computer animated movies per year, with a full film slate laid out into 2010. While I will always be a fan and an admirer of Aardman's work, our different business goals no longer support each other."
Aardman has not announced what this means for its future projects, but co-owners Peter Lord and David Sproxton said " Aardman has an ambitious slate of feature film projects in development and we will announce our future production and distribution plans shortly'.