Aardman’s sifting through the ashes

Sun paper reporting the cause as arson

“Wallace & Gromit” creator Aardman Animations is counting the costs of the blaze that ravaged its Victorian warehouse in Bristol, England, on Monday.

The Sun paper is reporting that the cause of the blaze was arson but fire brigade officials have yet to comment.

Gone up in smoke are the original talking animal figures from Aardman’s Oscar-winning animated short “Creature Comforts” and characters, props and sets from “Morph,” “Chicken Run” and early Wallace & Gromit shorts “A Grand Day Out,” “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave.”

Aardman staffers are particularly upset about the loss of sketches and storyboards charting the painstaking claymation creative process.

“The company has always been keen to show people how we make our films. Our ability to do that will be seriously affected by this,” said Kieran Argo, head of Aardman exhibitions and events.

There were some lucky escapes. The Wallace and Gromit figures from “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” were in helmer Nick Park’s briefcase for his promotional tour.

Other figures and the sets from “Were-Rabbit” are on exhibition elsewhere in Bristol. Original prints of Aardman films are housed in a specialist movie warehouse near London’s Heathrow Airport.

The fire was front-page news in British newspapers and the coverage probably will boost “Were-Rabbit’s” Friday opening here.

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