In 1995, at pretty much the midpoint of Aardman Animations
’ 40-year history, the Bristol-based cartoon studio’s co-founders, Peter Lord
and David Sproxton
, hatched the crazy idea of making a feature-length stop-motion film. It would be a send-up of the classic prison-break movie “The Great Escape.”
But starring chickens.
“It was really kind of a freak idea,” recalls Lord, who directed what became “Chicken Run
,” the first of Aardman’s six features.
This was shortly before Pixar launched the CG revolution with “Toy Story
,” and though Aardman was about to win its third Oscar for the Wallace and Gromit short “A Close Shave
” [incidentally, the project in which it introduced hit character Shaun the Sheep], hardly anyone was making big-screen cartoon. In fact, apart from the work Henry Selick
was doing for producer Tim Burton
in the United States [most notably “A Nightmare Before Christmas”], the idea of an entire movie in stop-motion seemed outlandish.
“Audiences love that sense of tangibility, the sense that it isn’t perfect.” David Sproxton