Caveman culture clash draws Katzenberg

DreamWorks exec unveils Cleese-scripted toon

DreamWorks took the wraps off yet another collaboration with British-based Aardman Studio, unveiling an animated feature called “Crood Awakening” during a lightning visit to the Cannes fest Thursday.

Pic will be an off-kilter rift on culture clash among cavemen, and though the inspiration for the clash apparently lies with the differences between the French and the British, theme will doubtless be widened by the time the film is delivered. That will likely be in 2007.

Former Monty Python member John Cleese has already delivered a script, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said. Few other details have been decided.

Pic follows the upcoming release of the DreamWorks-Aardman stop-motion pic “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” which was the ostensible reason for the Cannes appearance Thursday. That pic will be released this October and will go international almost immediately, per Katzenberg.

The cheese-loving Wallace and his faithful canine companion Gromit cavorted for the Cannes crowd on the beach Thursday morning. A 30-ft high balloon was released above the sea capping the publicity stunt.

Later that morning the characters’ creator Nick Park regaled journalists with anecdotes about the history of the characters and the clay-animation techniques he uses. It takes a week to produce just two minutes of film using this stop-motion technique but Park said the range of human emotions clay allows for is impressive.

“Wallace & Gromit” will be followed into theaters by Aardman’s first full-length CGI movie for DreamWorks, “Flushed Away,” in November 2006.

It will try to do for rats (in the sewers of London) what “Chicken Run” did for roosters and hens. “It’s time to bring rats center stage,” said Aardman co-founders David Sproxton and Peter Lord.

“Flushed Away” marks two firsts for Aardman: It’s not only its first full-length computer animated feature but it’s the first film under their banner to be produced not only in the company studio in Bristol, England but at DreamWorks Glendale campus. Hugh Jackman is voicing the upper crust society rat Roddy, who is flushed down into Ratropolis, and Kate Winslet voices the streetwise scavenger rat Rita.

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