Cannes: Studiocanal, Aardman Team for ‘Early Man’

Nick Park film marks second movie in Europe’s top ongoing animation alliance

PARIS –Having teamed on “Shaun the Sheep the Movie,” Europe’s two premier animation forces, the U.K.’s Aardman Studios and Euro film-TV group Studiocanal, are reuniting for “Early Man,” a stop-frame adventure set at the dawn of time that will be directed by Aardman’s Nick Park (“Chicken Run,” “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”).

Move marks Studiocanal’s latest drive into family entertainment,which has yielded its top-grossing film ever, the David Heyman-produced “Paddington.”

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.

According to Deadline, “Early Man” will frame the world’s first game of soccer. Studiocanal aims to release ahead of the 2018 World Cup. The company will unveil early visuals at this year’s Cannes. Mark Burton and Richard Starzak have written the screenplay.

Studiocanal is co-financing and will distribute the film in its five home territories of the U.K., Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand. It will also handle international sales, introducing “Early Man” to buyers at Cannes. The BFI is also partnering on the film.

To date, “Shaun the Sheep the Movie” has grossed $54 million in international with 20 territories still to open, including the U.S., where Lionsgate bows the film on Aug. 7; Latin America; and China, where China Film Group will handle the release.

Nick Park said: “I’m very excited to be making this film with such great partners – Studiocanal and BFI. And with the support of the incredible team at Aardman – bringing this inept bunch of cavemen to life is going to be a hilarious adventure!”

Olivier Courson said: “I’m thrilled to partner again with the Aardman team. All of us at Studiocanal are such fans of everything that Aardman does. After the great experience together on ‘Shaun the Sheep the Movie,’ we could not be happier than to be able to work on a Nick Park film with Aardman.”

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