×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Aardman, Studiocanal Team on ‘Shaun the Sheep’

Richard Starzak, Mark Burton will write and direct

PARIS — U.K. shingle Aardman Animations and film-TV group Studiocanal, Europe’s biggest movie producer-financier, are teaming on “Shaun the Sheep,” a toonpic that marks the big-screen debut of a character first seen in Aardman’s Oscar-winning short “A Close Shave.”

Richard Starzak and Mark Burton will write and direct. Aardman produces.

Studiocanal will finance, and also distribute in U.K., France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where it owns distribution operations. It will also handle sales to the rest of the world, bringing “Shaun” onto the market at next month’s Cannes festival.

To be shot in Aardman’s trademark stop-frame animation style and billed as an “epic adventure,” “Shaun the Sheep” sees Shaun’s mischief leading to the Farmer losing his farm and Shaun, Blitzer and the flock trekking to the big city to rescue him.

A one-off pic partnership between Aardman and Studiocanal, for the moment at least, “Shaun the Sheep” raises the question of whether it signals an end to Aardman’s financing/distribution deal with Sony.

First struck 2007, and renewed 2010, the Sony deal bankrolled the Aardman-produced “Arthur Christmas” and “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.”

A long-term Aardman-Studiocanal alliance would certainly team the two strongest animation players in Europe.

Aardman’s animation films have consistently punched significant grosses at the box office. “The Pirates!” made $123.1 million worldwide, “Arthur Christmas” $147.4 million. Their challenge, when made with a studio, whether Sony or DreamWorks Animations before 2007, has been to gross sufficient to justify their budgets and U.S. P & A costs.

On “Shaun,” Aardman will partner with a company whose core market remains Europe. Studiocanal has also developed a knack of recouping on movies in the $20 million-$35 million range or even higher without recourse to U.S distribution for core finance or profits.

“Shaun” also marks another major step-up in Studiocanal’s drive into family entertainment. In May 2012, Studiocanal teamed with “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman on a CGI live-action movie version of British kiddie classic Paddington books.

Like Paddington, Shaun is a children’s entertainment icon. Produced by the BBC and German pubcaster WDR and first aired March 2007, the stop-motion TV series “Shaun the Sheep” has been broadcast in more than 170 countries.

Olivier Courson, Studiocanal chairman-CEO, has never hid his admiration for Aardman. According to Courson, few family features, moreover, are brought onto the indie market.

“Shaun is a character you love at first sight, whatever your age,” Courson said Thursday.

“We are naturally very excited about partnering with Studiocanal for this project,” added David Sproxton, Aardman co-founder and exec chairman.
He added, “(Studiocanal’s) track record and expertise in international film financing and distribution seems a perfect fit.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works

    Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works as a Movie From Heyday, BBC Films

    David Heyman’s Heyday Films, whose credits include “Gravity,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story” and the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises, and BBC Films have secured the film rights to Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s musical “Follies.” “Follies” will be adapted for the screen and directed by Dominic Cooke, a four-time Olivier [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG Awards

    Gabrielle Carteris Preps for 26th Annual SAG Awards

    SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris is already looking forward to the 26th SAG Awards on Jan. 19, held in its usual location at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. “One of the best things about the SAG Awards is that it’s a peer-to-peer recognition,” she says. “It’s the highest honor for performers to be recognized by [...]

  • Robert Pattinson The Lighthouse Best Actor

    Best Actor Oscar Race Dominated by Known Faces

    In this year’s Oscar race for the lead actor prize, two of the front-runners represent a pair of films likely to duke it out for best picture: Leonardo DiCaprio, whose fading Western TV star Rick Dalton is the heart and soul of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and Robert De Niro, who [...]

  • Lawrence G Paull obit

    'Blade Runner' Production Designer Lawrence Paull Dies at 81

    Lawrence G. Paull, the Oscar-nominated production designer who helped create the distinctive looks of 1980s films including the visually groundbreaking 1982 “Blade Runner.” died on Nov. 10 of heart disease in La Jolla, Calif. He was 81. Paull received an Academy Award nomination for art direction with David L. Snyder for Ridley Scott’s prescient film [...]

  • Justin Timberlake'Trolls' film premiere, Los Angeles,

    Justin Timberlake Returns as a Performer and Producer for 'Trolls World Tour' Soundtrack

    Pop star Justin Timberlake, who earned an Oscar nomination for his contribution to the first “Trolls” movie three years ago, is returning to the franchise as the executive music producer of Dreamworks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour” soundtrack, scheduled for this March. . Assisted by Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer/producer Ludwig Göransson, Timberlake produced, wrote and [...]

  • Leon Bridges Emily Bode Fashion

    New Designers Bring Fresh Perspectives to Red Carpets

    As awards season is gearing up, Variety looks at emerging designers that will make their mark on the many red carpets ahead: Bode For the guys, Emily Bode’s eponymous line of one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted clothing cut from antique fabrics and Victorian quilts has earned a following that includes Donald Glover, Dyllón Burnside, Ezra Miller, Leon Bridges, [...]

  • Alma Harrel Honey Boy

    'Honey Boy' DP Natasha Braier Took Nonfiction Approach to Fiction Feature

    The “Honey Boy” script that cinematographer Natasha Braier read prior to signing on with first-time narrative feature director Alma Har’el to shoot star and writer Shia LaBeouf’s intimate memoir-focused arthouse film was psychologically rich and emotionally fraught with no visual cues. It was a deep character study of the beginnings of his acting career with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content