×

Aardman Appoints Sean Clarke as New Managing Director

Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind “Chicken Run” and “Early Man,” has appointed Sean Clarke as its new managing director, replacing co-founder David Sproxton, who is stepping down after 43 years. Clarke has worked at the British studio for more than 20 years, including heading the international rights and marketing department for over a decade.

Sproxton and fellow co-founder Peter Lord announced last November that they would be transferring ownership of Aardman to its staff to ensure that the studio would retain its independence and to secure its creative and cultural legacy. At that time, Sproxton announced that he would stay on as managing director but would look for a successor and move into a consultancy role. He will sit on the studio’s board of trustees.

Sproxton said Clarke had “cut through very strong competition” to take his place. Clarke “has a deep understanding of the creative culture at Aardman – which will ensure continuity – in addition to a very strong, clear and exciting strategy to take the company forward, so it will certainly not be resting on its laurels,” Sproxton said. “There are wonderful projects on the slate with new creative talent behind them, and the future looks very bright. I am more than confident that, with Sean leading the executive board, the company will thrive.”

Clarke originally joined Aardman in 1998 as its head of consumer products. In 2008, he became head of rights and brand development, with responsibility for global brand development across all platforms. He was instrumental in the launch of Aardman’s YouTube channels, which attract more than 1.2 billion views every year, and in the development of themed attractions with immersive storytelling, including Shaun the Sheep Land in Sweden, which opened in 2015.

Popular on Variety

“The studio’s strength has always been in its visionary creativity and storytelling expertise which, combined, mean that we are able to adapt to new platforms and changes in the way we consume entertainment whilst delivering consistently inspiring, funny and engaging animation,” said Clarke. “Ensuring that our independent spirit and our unique blend of innovation and integrity remain at the heart of everything we do – while nurturing and supporting sensational new creatives alongside our existing roster of incredible talent – will be a guiding principle.”

Lord remains creative director, focusing on Aardman’s film output, which includes the upcoming “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” and next year’s “Chicken Run 2.” “Farmageddon” launches internationally later this month before opening in the U.K. on Oct. 18 and in the U.S. on Dec. 13.

“Chicken Run 2,” a sequel to Aardman’s first and most successful feature, is scheduled for release next summer. “Chicken Run 2” is directed by Sam Fell, who handled the studio’s 2006 feature “Flushed Away.” The original “Chicken Run,” released in 2000, was directed by multi-Oscar-winner Nick Park, whose last feature was 2018 Aardman title “Early Man.”

Aardman’s seven features to date have collectively grossed $1.03 billion at the global box office. The studio is also set to launch its first major piece of original content for the theme park market with a 4D immersive experience at Efteling: World of Wonders in the Netherlands, which will open in November.

More Film

  • Lee Byung-hun stars in "The Man

    Lee Byung-hun’s ‘Man Standing Next’ Secures 2020 Asia Theatrical Releases (EXCLUSIVE)

    Showbox’s political drama “The Man Standing Next” has secured releases in multiple territories in Asia. The film was picked up by Falcon for Indonesia, The Klockworx for Japan, Viva Communications for the Philippines, Shaw Renters for Singapore and by Moviecloud for Taiwan. Release dates in each territory have yet to be confirmed. Set 40 days [...]

  • Lulu Wang and Zhao Shuzhen'The Farewell'

    Zhao Shuzhen on Stealing Scenes in Her First American Movie, 'The Farewell'

    A year ago, 76-year-old actor Zhao Shuzhen shot her first American movie, “The Farewell,” based on writer-director Lulu Wang’s very personal family story. In November, Shuzhen found herself making her first visit to the States, where she earned standing ovations from audiences and posed for pictures with stars like Robert Pattinson at parties. Then she [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Director Lorene Scafaria

    'Hustlers' DP Todd Banhazl Discusses How Not to Shoot With the Male Gaze

    Cinematographer Todd Banhazl had to rethink conventional wisdom in shooting Jennifer Lopez starrer “Hustlers.” What sort of approach did you and director Lorene Scafaria discuss in terms of how you were going to shoot the women and create these strong images of strippers? From the beginning, we talked about this idea of control and the [...]

  • A Hidden Life Movie

    Film News Roundup: Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life' Screened at Vatican Film Library

    In today’s film news roundup, “A Hidden Life” is shown at the Vatican, “Limerence” finds a home, Dave Baustista’s “My Spy” moves, and the DGA honors two veteran members. VATICAN SCREENING Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” received a rare private screening at the Vatican Film Library this week. The movie centers on Austrian farmer and [...]

  • Wet Season

    'Wet Season' Star Yeo Yann Yann on the Need for Quality Chinese-Language Films

    Malaysia’s Yeo Yann Yann wiped away tears that weren’t purely of joyous triumph just minutes after receiving the 2019 Golden Horse Award for best actress in Singaporean director Anthony Chen’s “Wet Season.” The film plays in the New Chinese Cinema section of this week’s International Film Festival & Awards (IFFAM). Emotion welled up as she [...]

  • Wolf Totem

    Juben Productions Stretches From Peter Chan to Chinese Zombies

    Beijing Juben Productions has taken over rights to the popular “Wolf Totem” novel from China Film Group and is working on a sequel to be delivered in 2021 or Chinese New Year 2022. It also has a zombie film up its sleeve, as well as a British co-production about Shakespeare and a Chinese drama with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content