Studiocanal Herds Aardman’s ‘Shaun’ Multiple Sales

Euro film and TV group Studiocanal has closed major territory deals on “Shaun the Sheep,” the bigscreen debut of a character first seen in Aardman Animations’ Oscar-winning short, “A Close Shave.”

“Shaun” is the first film teaming Studiocanal and Aardman (“Chicken Run, “Wallace & Gromit”).

Studiocanal, which finances “Shaun,” is distributing the stop-motion animated feature in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where it owns distribs.

Tohokushinsha has acquired rights for Japan. Volga has the CIS, having already bought Studiocanal’s “Paddington” and “House of Magic.” Svensk has licensed Scandinavia, Impuls has rights in Switzerland, and Monolith in Poland. Rights to Latin America and Spain have also sold at Cannes.

Harold Van Lier, exec VP of intl. distribution, said Studiocanal has received several wide release offers for U.S. distribution and is in discussions for Asia, Korea, China and Benelux.

“The brand is strong and rapidly growing in the U.S. and is a character everybody loves,” Van Lier said Monday at Cannes, adding that Studiocanal would close most of the world in the next 24 hours.

“Aardman has had some phenomenal successes with ‘Chicken Run’ and ‘Wallace & Gromit’ but in the context of studio partnerships such as DreamWorks and Sony,” Van Lier said. “This is the first time that one of their films is on the independent market but with a character that is already a worldwide phenomenon. We hope this will be the beginning of a long partnership with our friends at Aardman.”

In what Van Lier described as Studiocanal’s strongest market ever, it has virtually sold out on Sean Penn starrer “The Gunman,” produced by Joel Silver.

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