Twenty years to the day after its theatrical release, Aardman Animation Studios has confirmed it will produce a “Chicken Run” sequel, this time backed by Netflix, who will distribute the film globally outside of China.
The sequel announcement was delivered during an Annecy Making Of panel on the festival’s digital platform. The sequel has long been rumored, though Netflix’s involvement is major news.
A Netflix release that coincided with the presentation explained that Studiocanal, which has financed, distributed and sold Aardman productions since 2015’s “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” and Pathé, which backed the original, have closed a deal with Aardman to allow the transfer of the sequel rights to the global streaming giant.
Two decades after its release, “Chicken Run” remains the highest-grossing stop-motion animated film of all time. The first time around, Aardman’s legendary award-winning stop-motion innovators Peter Lord (“The Pirates! Band of Misfits”) and Nick Park (“Wallace & Gromit”) directed. This time, Oscar-nominated “ParaNorman” and “Flushed Away” director Sam Fell is to direct.
“We’ve discussed it so many times over the years and come up with various ideas but never quite found one we loved enough,” explained Lord in a video available on Annecy’s digital platform. “But it was always in the back of our minds,” he went on, explaining that every three to four years there would be a conversation at Aardman about how to do so.
Now, he’s convinced, “We’ve got the perfect story, and the relationship with Netflix is kind of perfect as well because they celebrate the filmmaker and are so filmmaker friendly,” he explained. “I feel now we can make the ‘Chicken Run’ sequel we want to, the one we really care about.”
“We’ve been working on the script for some time, years in truth,” Fell confessed, recalling a brainstorming session with co-writers Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell where he was sold on the project by a “hooky logline which promises so much: ‘This time, they’re breaking in,'” he shared, before going on to explain some of the film’s new plot details.
Netflix’s “Chicken Run” sequel will turn on Ginger, now living in a human-free chicken paradise. There, Ginger and Rocky hatch an egg together and daughter Molly is born. The girl grows up quickly, “as children do,” Fell explained, and Molly begins to outgrow the island. At the same time, rumors start to float of a new and terrible threat on the mainland, forcing Ginger to rally her troops and put their own hard-won freedom at risk for the good of all chicken-kind.
“I tell you it will be fun and games seeing these chickens back in action,” Fell promised. “All the gadgets, the kit, we’re kind of moving towards an almost-tribute to ‘Mission: Impossible’ with elements of heist and how they’re going to pull off this amazing break-in.”
Shooting is planned for next year with Lord, Carla Shelley and Karey Kirkpatrick returning as executive producers. Steve Pegram will produce, and Park will be involved in a consulting role. Rachel Tunnard joins Kirkpatrick and O’Farrell on screenwriting duties.
Details on other upcoming Aardman projects were discussed as well.
“We are shooting one called ‘Robin Robin,’” said Lord, describing it as a half-hour, stop-motion Christmas special. “(It’s) directed by two guys new to Aardman, which is great,” he went on, adding that with the new talent comes a new style, and that the special will look different to what Aardman has done before.
Aardman is also working on the recently announced “The Big Fix Up,” a new “Wallace & Gromit” story developed with Fictioneers — a collection of British creative companies including Potato, Sugar Creative and Tiny Rebel Games, with support from the University of South Wales — which will using the latest immersive technologies to bring the classic characters into the realm of augmented reality.