Chicken Run (2000) Poster



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There was a major push to get the film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The failure to get the nomination, and the popularity of the film among Academy members led to the inclusion of Best Animated Feature for the next Academy Awards (2002), which was won by fellow Dreamworks film Shrek (2001).
After Rocky leaves, there is another joke at Mel Gibson's expense. Bunty says, I don't even think he was American, a reference to the common misconception that Gibson is actually Australian. (Although he was born in the USA and didn't move to Australia until he was 12, the belief persists, especially in the UK, that he's Australian.)
The filmmakers were nervous about showing Rocky and Ginger kissing, fearing the sight of two chickens touching beaks would look too awkward. This led to the running gag of their being interrupted every time they are about to kiss (by the sound of the pie machine, by Ginger slapping Rocky, by the gravy explosion, etc.). When the kiss finally comes, it is staged so that the actual contact of "lips" is hidden.
In the scene where Rocky is tuning in the radio, one of the short bursts of music heard is from the opening theme to The Archers, a long-running British drama series on BBC Radio 4 (An everyday story of country folk). The Archers began in 1950, and is still broadcast regularly to this day (2006).
Mel Gibson's kids played a major part in convincing Gibson to take the part because they were very impressed with the Wallace and Gromit shorts.
The original script featured an additional character: Ginger's little brother Nobby. Dreamworks suggested that Nobby was left out, in order to make the film less cute.
John Sharian's part was a lot longer, but cut to the point that only a single line of his was left: "Sure". It was a costly cut, since Nick Park arranged for him to be flown from America just to do the part.
Early in development, Mac's name was supposed to be short for MacNugget.
One reference to Indiana Jones in the pie machine sequence that was never used had Rocky come face to face with a chicken skeleton inside the machine, as Indy does in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Rocky would then have said, "They bought a used machine. How cheap is that?"
Scenes deleted from the finished film included Fowler being an alcoholic, a chicken eaten by the watchdogs in an escape attempt, Rocky's sole escape from the farm by hiding in the egg bucket, and a more elaborate climax. It involved Mr Tweedy's Mini, a truck, a combine harvester, Rocky and Ginger jumping over hedges on a trike like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape (1963) before going over a cliff, Mrs Tweedy falling in mud and the harvester encasing her in a bale of hay, with Mr Tweedy gloating "Right there's going to be some changes around here." Then the albatross breaks up and the chickens fly by themselves into the sunset. When they land they dance the "Funky Chicken" in celebration.
Halfway through production, the animators had gone through 3370 pounds of plasticine.
According to the pattern of the scarf she is wearing, the Scottish chicken Mac belongs to clan MacLeod of Lewis.
While the normal frame rate for a motion picture is twenty-four frames per second, and all the Aardman Animations shorts had been shot accordingly, this film was shot at only twenty frames a second to save on time and money.
The characters' bodies were made of silicone with latex covering, while the heads and hands (or wings) were plasticene. All the chicken characters have collars and ruffles to hide the disparity between the modeling clay heads and wings and the latex-covered bodies.
When the plane is about to take off, Fowler calls, "chocks away!" The chocks are actually triangular bars of chocolate, modeled on the Toblerone brand.
During the exercise scene, the chickens are seen to perform taekwondo patterns at one point, as one of the animators was also a taekwondo instructor
Fowler's "military service" is not entirely unprecedented. During an actuality recording made under fire during the March 24, 1944 invasion of the Marshall Islands by the Firth Amphibian Corps, correspondent Ed Walker reported on the sudden appearance of a chicken in the midst of the gunfire, which broke the tension. Walker then reported on the inexplicable appearance of chickens during previous invasions, suggesting (in jest) that the USO must be sending them.
Nick and Fetcher were made rats because they can get in and out of the chicken run being scavengers. Nick Park wasn't sure initially about naming one of them after him.
It took a week to create 3-4 chickens. Each one was designed with an armature underneath, like a skeleton, and rods were used whenever a chicken ran or flew. The puppets were then manipulated and photographed 24 times for every second of film. Several puppets were produced because plasticine isn't too durable. So silicon was used too because it is more durable and saved time on making more puppets. There were 100 individual stages in order to create a chicken.
The pie machine was meant to show the threat of mechanization. 50 people worked on its design. The cogs in the machine were silver spray painted to make them look metallic (they were made of polyurethane), and then scrubbed down to take some of the shine off. Finally they rubbed the (plywood) interior with lead grate polish to give it the look and feel of age and use. The machine even had a plaque to give it a further touch of authenticity.
The dance scene was acted out first by some of the set dressers.
When Rocky first appears on the farm, Fowler denounces him (and all "Yanks") by calling him "overpaid, oversexed, and over here!". This was a common gripe about US service members expressed by British (and in the Pacific Theater, Australian) troops and civilians during World War II (it has since passed into the vernacular as an expression of mild resentment towards America). The American retort was that their allies were "underpaid, undersexed, and under Eisenhower!". In the same rant, Fowler also claims that Yanks are late for every war. The USA entered WWI in 1917 and WWII in (December) 1941, roughly three years after the British had started fighting in each war.
644 Squadron RAF, which Fowler used to be the mascot of, really existed. It was formed in 1944 and used Halifax bombers to tow gliders across the channel during the D Day landings.
The signpost recycled as a propeller reads Halifax 32; Lancaster 40; Sunderland 59. This narrows down the location of Tweedy's Farm to the Yorkshire Moors, probably somewhere in Upper Wharfedale or Littondale. A short way north of Upper Wharfdale is a place called Wensleydale, which is Wallace and Gromits', another Aardman creation, favorite cheese. Those town names were also all names of British WWII warplanes.
Mel Gibson recorded all of his lines separately in the United States, while the rest of the crew recorded together at Aardman (in the UK).
During the screwball teaching the hens to fly sequence, Mac, the Scottish chicken is tossed into the air exactly like a caber in the Highland Games. And, in fact, when she lands on her head and falls facing exactly away from her tosser, this would achieve the maximum possible score for that event.
Originally, the filmmakers had planned to have sparrows ridicule the chickens' attempts at flight. Rather than spend time and money on characters that would be on screen for only a brief time, they used Nick and Fetcher instead.
Babs's knitting is real, done with toothpicks as needles.
Eggless, ill-fated chicken Edwina is named for Conservative former Health Minister, Edwina Currie, whose political career foundered over an egg-related farming crisis in the UK.
Ginger and Rocky were named after two of Nick Park's childhood pet chickens.
Some ideas in the film derive from when Nick Park kept chickens as pets when he was a boy, e.g. naming Rocky "the Lone Free Ranger." Also, when he was a teenager, Park worked in a chicken packing factory, and his days in the slaughterhouse gave him the idea for the pie machine, like Ginger hung upside down from her legs.
Nick Park and Peter Lord spent six months devising the story and characters. When putting together the script, they booked into a B&B in Wensleydale, the home of one of Wallace's favourite cheeses.
Some original characters were dropped like Sage & Onion, a pair of mute twins, as well as Paxo, a champion egg layer.
The bumps on each chicken were nicknamed "fluffles" by Aardman. Bunty's character, for instance, has 3077 of them. They avoided feathers because they're tough to animate. And the beaks were held in place with a locator.
The gaunt, sharp angles of the farmhouse were meant to reflect Mrs Tweedy's menace.
The light bulb in Hut 17 was real so it appeared in scale with the rest of the set. Also, the doors and windows in Hut 17 worked on real hinges. The ceiling had irregular holes cut into it to create a desired light effect. The disco ball also made real reflections
Some set dressings were pilfered from scrapyards.
The oven set had black and white polka dotting to suggest enameling.
The crate plane at the climax was meant to look both extraordinary and funny. 60 chicken models were inside it at any one time.
When Mrs Tweedy measures Babs for the pie machine she was on elevated rigging so she would appear to tower over the assembled chickens. She was given different walks to intimidate them.
Although Fowler claims to be a member of No. 644 Squadron RAF, the "crate" on the postcard he shows to Ginger is actually an Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley, a medium bomber used by the Royal Air Force from 1937-1942 (saw limited use until 1946). No. 644 Squadron RAF actually flew the Handley Page Halifax.
The scene with Rocky and Ginger on the roof took five months to animate. The animators carved semicircular chunks into the roof and placed Rocky and Ginger into the hollows to give the illusion of sitting-down. The dialogue was short but the stage directions included tiny details, which is why the scene took so long to animate.
During the exercise scene, Bunty is doing her push-ups on one wing only.
The movie was shot using converted 1950s 35mm Mitchell BNC cameras.
The sky seen in the film could measure from 10-20 feet. 120 were painted for the film. Studio lamps were reflected off the sky to give it the appearance of real daylight.
The chickens were built on two scales: full-size "A" models for the main scenes, and smaller "B" models for scenes with the Tweedys and for forced perspective shots.
A song originally intended for the end credits was "Don't Fence Me In", sung by The Andrews Sisters.
Originally Rocky had a wattle, but this was later removed. Another early idea that was dropped was the chickens learn to fly at the climax just by believing it. Another was the chickens once escaped from a nice farm, and when they misbehaved, they were sent to Tweedy's Farm as a punishment.
Aardman weren't sure at first if they could pull off chickens in plasticine. Especially since they look nothing like real chickens, e.g. no feathers, fat legs, and huge bodies, etc.
"Hut 17" is a reference to the WWII P.O.W. film Stalag 17.
The name on the circus poster, Colonel Daniel Spoon is a joke on Daniel Boone.
The decision to make Rocky American came late to give Ginger and Rocky a Tracey and Hepburn feel, as well as an element of culture clash.
The script was originally 20 minutes too long so some scenes had to be shortened or compressed, like the initial unveiling of the pie machine.
The view of the Yorkshire Dales was sectional, stopping just at the stone wall.
In Russian the title of this movie is, "Escape from the Hen House".

Director Cameo 

Nick Park:  Voice of the clucking chicken below the disguised tea-pot.

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