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Big animated feature play bows Jan.-March 2018

Leveraging Studiocanal’s direct distribution operation in Europe and Australia/New Zealand, Aardman Studios and Studiocanal, two of the most powerful players in European family entertainment, have set dates for the release of “Early Man,” a stop-frame adventure set at the dawn of time that will be directed by Aardman Studios’ Nick Park (“Chicken Run,” “Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit”).

One of Europe’s biggest upcoming animation bets, “Early Man” will be released on Jan. 21, 2018 in the U.K., Jan. 31 in France, March 29 in Germany, Australia/New Zealand.

New comes hot on the heels of a EE British Academy Awrd for animated film for “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” the first collaboration between Aardman and Studiocanal.

Budgeted at $55 million, “Paddington,” the CGI-live action family movie was one of the first fully-financed Studiocanal productions to be put through a same-time worldwide release, world preeming in the U.K. and rolling out in France, Germany and Australia over Nov. 23-Dec. 11 2014.

Though split into two release blocks, “Early Man,” which carries a reported $50 million budget, looks set to follow a similar strategy. The pay-off for “Paddington” was huge: $260 million worldwide and counting by last Cannes, which made it Studiocanal’s biggest release and the highest gross ever for an family film released by a non-U.S. studio, Studiocanal announced last year.

Allowing Park to develop a new motley crew of characters, here in a dramatic prehistoric world when dinosaurs and wooly mammoths roamed the earth, “Early Man” tells the tale about how a plucky caveman unites his tribe against a mighty enemy and saves the day.

Directed by Nick Park, and his first feature film since Academy Award-winning “Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” “Early Man” proved one of the market’s best sellers at Cannes last year, off early visuals, a Mark Burton and Richard Starzak screenplay and Peter Lord pitch.

Yoking two of Europe’s premier animation forces, “Early Man” is produced by Aardman, and co-financed, distributed and sold by Studiocanal. The British Film Institute is also a partner on the adventure romp.

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