Six-month hiatus planned to fix story

LONDON — Aardman Animations has suspended production on its next feature for DreamWorks, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” to fix script problems.

The Bristol-based company, which previously made “Chicken Run,” is planning a six-month hiatus to fix problems with the script.

It has pink-slipped 90 staff from the 172-strong crew, although it hopes to hire them all back when shooting starts again.

Directed by Richard Goleszowski, the $40 million pic started shooting earlier this year, using Aardman’s distinctive clay animation style, but only a few minutes are so far in the can.

“The script was just not happening,” said company spokesman Arthur Sheriff. “The characters have got to be fleshed out. One of the biggest criticisms of British films is that they tend to be underdeveloped, so we wanted to fix that.”

Sheriff said that “Chicken Run” was in development for two and a half years before it started shooting, whereas only a year had been spent on “The Tortoise and the Hare,” based on Aesop’s fable.

He also pointed out that DreamWorks had suspended production twice on “Shrek.”

“This is entirely an Aardman decision,” he insisted. “It’s about quality control.”

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