Aardman have announced a partnership with producer-financer StudioCanal to craft the feature film debut of Shaun the Sheep. Shaun first appeared in the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit short, A Close Shave, and has since starred in his own, very popular, kids' TV series.
The good news for Aardman fans is that, much like their most recent hit, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists, Shaun the Sheep will be animated in Aardman's trademark claymation style. It's being written and directed by Aardman veterans Mark Burton and Richard "Golly" Starzak. Golly directed two series of Creature Comforts, as well developing and co-directing the Shaun the Sheep TV series; Burton worked on Chicken Run.
The synopsis given for the film is:
When Shaun’s mischief inadvertently leads to the Farmer being taken away from the farm, Shaun, Bitzer and the flock have to go into the big city to rescue him, setting the stage for an epic adventure.
Worth noting is that this deal would seem to signal an end to Aardman's distribution deal with Sony Pictures Animation. Aardman's films always do very well at the UK box office, but struggle to make a dent in the States, so teaming with StudioCanal would appear to be a savvy move, focusing their attention on dominating Europe - SC is financing and will distribute in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
Aardman co-founder and Executive Chairman, David Sproxton, commented:
"Shaun and his friends have a massive global following and we are very excited about being able to put them into a bigger adventure for the big screen. We are naturally also very excited about partnering with STUDIOCANAL for this project, their track record and expertise in international film financing and distribution seems a perfect fit."
No word on a release date yet though. Also on the horizon is Steve Box's (Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) The Cat Burglars, written by Life on Mars (the good one, that is) writers Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah - the film's described as “family-friendly Tarantino.” Nick Park is also developing a new, non-Wallace and Gromit, film.