Chicken Run

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This article is about the film. For the game based on the film, see Chicken Run (video game).
Chicken Run
Chicken run ver1.jpg
British theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Lord
Nick Park
Produced by Peter Lord
Nick Park
David Sproxton
Screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick
Story by Peter Lord
Nick Park
Starring Julia Sawalha
Mel Gibson
Timothy Spall
Phil Daniels
Tony Haygarth
Miranda Richardson
Music by John Powell
Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography Dave Alex Riddett
Tristan Oliver
Frank Passingham
Edited by Mark Solomon
Production
  company
Aardman Animations
DreamWorks Animation
Pathé Pictures
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures (United States)
Pathé (United Kingdom)
Release date(s)
  • 23 June 2000 (2000-06-23) (United States)
  • 30 June 2000 (2000-06-30) (United Kingdom)
Running time 84 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $45 million
Box office $224,834,564

Chicken Run is a 2000 British stop-motion animated comedy film made by the Aardman Animations studios and directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park. It was the first feature-length film by Aardman and the first produced in partnership with DreamWorks, which co-financed and distributed the film. The film features the voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Timothy Spall, Phil Daniels, Tony Haygarth and Miranda Richardson. Chicken Run received very positive reviews, and was a box office hit.

The plot centres on a band of chickens who see a smooth-talking Rhode Island Red named Rocky as their only hope to escape from certain death when the owners of their farm decide to move from selling eggs to selling chicken pot pies.

Plot[edit]

The Tweedys are a middle-aged couple who run a struggling chicken farm in Yorkshire, England. Mrs. Tweedy (voiced by Miranda Richardson) is the malicious brains of the pair, while Mr. Tweedy (voiced by Tony Haygarth) is dim-witted, but suspects the chickens are trying to organise. The coop is run in the style of a World War II POW camp, with the chickens accountable for the number of eggs they lay daily. Their unofficial leader Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha) has attempted numerous escapes, often using contraband smuggled in by a pair of rats named Nick and Fetcher (voiced by Timothy Spall and Phil Daniels). However, Ginger is routinely captured by Mr. Tweedy and his dogs and thrown into a coal bin for solitary confinement. Ginger is released from the bin just in time for roll call the next day, when Mrs. Tweedy removes one chicken who has laid no eggs for a week and slaughters her for dinner. Ginger becomes increasingly desperate to find a plan of escape which will work, but faces problems with Nick and Fetcher, who are tired of being paid with chicken feed and want their own eggs instead.

Mrs. Tweedy soon realises that the couple's farm is failing and reads a catalogue on an ambiguous method of increasing profits. Realising something is wrong, Ginger attempts to rally the other chickens' spirits so they will speed up their efforts to escape. However, she soon concludes that their only viable plan is to go over the fence, something that has not been tried yet. As she stands outside the coop that night, she sees a Rhode Island Red rooster named Rocky (voiced by Mel Gibson), who hurtles over the fence and crash-lands in the coop. The other chickens fawn over Rocky, while Ginger finds a torn section of a poster that appears to show Rocky flying. After Ginger discovers that Rocky is on the run from a circus, she agrees to hide him from his owners if he teaches them how to fly. Rocky reluctantly agrees, but says he cannot show them immediately because he injured his wing in the crash. Instead, Rocky puts Ginger and the other chickens through a set of exercises that seem to have no purpose, while assuring them that they are making progress.

The chickens are surprised by a large piece of equipment being delivered to the farm, followed by Mrs. Tweedy's order to double their feed rations. Ginger concludes that the Tweedys are trying to fatten the chickens up and then kill them all, leading to an argument between her and Rocky over telling the chickens the truth and not destroying their morale. Discovering that Ginger's news has sent them into a depression, Rocky organises a party using a radio procured by Nick and Fetcher. Rocky's wing has fully healed by now, but before Ginger can persuade him to give a flying demonstration, she is taken by Mr. Tweedy for a test of their new equipment - a machine for making chicken pot pies.

Rocky rescues Ginger from the machine, sabotaging it in the process so that they will have more time to work on their escape. Fowler (voiced by Benjamin Whitrow), an older rooster who has been doubtful of Rocky's acts, now begins to respect him and gives Rocky his old Royal Air Force (RAF) badge in tribute. Rocky decides to flee the farm the next day, leaving behind Fowler's medal and the missing section of his poster, which shows that he was actually a stunt cockerel who "flew" by being shot from a cannon. This revelation outrages and demoralises all the chickens except Ginger. When Fowler arrives to try to restore order, he begins talking of his days in the RAF, leading Ginger to realise that she and the other chickens could fly out after all by using an airplane, built from the chicken coops, modeled after Fowler's pictures and personal recollections and constructed using tools supplied by Nick and Fetcher, paying them with fresh eggs. The chickens race against time to assemble their plane as Mr Tweedy works to repair the pie machine.

The chickens complete their plane just as Mr. Tweedy enters the coop to grab them. However, the chickens launch an open revolt by tying up and gagging him. As they are preparing to take off, Mr. Tweedy frees himself and knocks down the launch ramp. Ginger jumps down as Fowler turns the plane around, knocking Mr. Tweedy unconscious. Ginger and Rocky - who returns to the farm after seeing an ad for the Tweedys' pies - set the ramp back in place and climb aboard the plane by grabbing a string of lights hanging from the landing gear. Mrs. Tweedy then manages to grab the end of the string and is dragged into the air, weighing the plane down, and Ginger crawls out to try to cut the string. Mrs. Tweedy swipes at her with her hatchet, but is foiled by Rocky with help from Nick and Fetcher launching the eggs at her. After all the eggs are dispersed, Mrs Tweedy swipes at Ginger again and seemingly beheads her, but soon realizes she has accidentally severed the string, and Ginger lets her fall through the barn and into the pie machine, plugging its safety valve. This causes the machine to build up pressure and explode in a mushroom cloud of gravy, destroying the barn. Mr Tweedy then reminds his wife for not realizing that the chickens were planning to escape, and after this enrages her further, the barn door (the last standing structure of the barn) collapses on her as the chickens continue their flight to freedom.

In the epilogue, the chickens have established a sanctuary for themselves, where they can live in comfort and raise their baby chicks. Rocky and Ginger begin a relationship, and Nick and Fetcher discuss the idea of starting a chicken farm of their own. During the closing credits, their talk becomes an argument over whether the chicken or the egg came first.

Cast[edit]

  • Julia Sawalha as Ginger, who is determined to save her fellow chickens from their impending doom on the Tweedys' farm. She is usually the one that comes up with the ideas and is generally more intelligent than the other chickens.
  • Mel Gibson as Rocky the Rhode Island Red (or Rhodes for short), a rooster who crash-lands into the farm after getting distracted by Ginger, spinning on a weathervane, and bouncing off some telephone wires.
  • Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Tweedy, a cantankerous egg farmer who decides to convert her farm into a chicken pot pie factory solely for monetary reasons.
  • Tony Haygarth as Mr. Tweedy, Mrs. Tweedy's henpecked husband.
  • Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler, a feisty rooster who regularly prattles about his Royal Air Force experiences.
  • Timothy Spall as Nick, a smart, portly rat who smuggles contraband into the compound.
  • Phil Daniels as Fetcher, Nick's slim, slow-witted partner.
  • Jane Horrocks as Babs, the fattest of the chickens with a dim-witted innocence and a love of knitting.
  • Imelda Staunton as Bunty, the group cynic who is the most skeptical of Ginger's escape plans.
  • Lynn Ferguson as Mac, Ginger's brainy Scottish assistant and chief engineer.

Production[edit]

Chicken Run was Aardman Animations' first feature length production, which would be executive produced by Jake Eberts. Nick Park and Peter Lord, who run Aardman, directed the film,[1] while Karey Kirkpatrick scripted the film with additional input from Mark Burton and John O'Farrell.

Chicken Run was first conceived in 1995 by Aardman co-founder Peter Lord and Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park. Pathe agreed to finance Chicken Run in 1996 putting their finances into Script Development and Model Design. DreamWorks officially came on board in 1997.[2] DreamWorks beat out studios like Universal Studios and Warner Bros. and largely won due to the perseverance of DreamWorks co-chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg; as a company they were eager to make their presence felt in the animation market in an attempt to compete with Disney's dominance of the field.[3]

In December 1997, it was revealed that David Sproxton would produce. DreamWorks secured their first animated feature with the film, and they handled distribution in all territories except Europe, which Pathé handled. The two studios co-financed the film. DreamWorks also retains rights to international merchandising.[citation needed]

During the production of the film, 30 sets were used with 80 animators working along with 180 people working overall. Despite this, one minute of film was completed with each week of filming.[2]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was received critical acclaim upon its release. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 97% approval rating with an average rating of 8.1/10 based on 153 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Chicken Run has all the charm of Nick Park's Wallace & Gromit, and something for everybody. The voice acting is fabulous, the slapstick is brilliant, and the action sequences are spectacular."[4]. The film also holds a score of 88 based on 34 reviews on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim."[5]

Box office[edit]

On opening weekend, the film grossed $17,506,162 for a $7,027 average from 2,491 theatres. Overall, the film placed second behind Me, Myself and Irene.[6] In its second weekend, the film held well as it slipped only 25% to $13,192,897 for a $4,627 average from expanding to 2,851 theaters and finishing in fourth place.[7] The film's widest release was 2,953 theaters, after grossing $106,834,564 domestically with an additional $118,000,000 overseas for a worldwide total of $224,834,564. Produced on a $45 million budget, the film was a huge box office hit. To date, it is the highest grossing stop motion animated movie.

Home media[edit]

Chicken Run was released on DVD and VHS on November 21, 2000.[8]

Accolades[edit]

Group Category (Recipient) Result
Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Best Individual Achievement in Directing (Nick Park and Peter Lord) Nominated
Best Individual Achievement in Writing (Margaret French) Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best British Film Nominated
Best Visual Effects Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Best Animated Feature Won
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Best Animated Feature Won
Empire Awards Best British Director (Nick Park and Peter Lord) Nominated
Best British Film Nominated
Best Debut (Nick Park and Peter Lord) Nominated
European Film Awards Best Film Nominated
Florida Film Critics Best Animated Feature Won
Genesis Awards Best Feature Film Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated
Kansas City Film Critics Best Animated Feature Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Best Family Film Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Best Animated Feature Won
National Board of Review: Best Animated Feature Won
New York Film Critics: Best Animated Feature Won
Phoenix Film Critics: Best Animated Feature Won
Best Family Film Won
Best Original Score (John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams) Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture - Animated or Mixed Media Won
Best Sound Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Best Film Nominated

Soundtrack[edit]

Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell composed the music for the film, which was released on 20 June 2000 under the RCA Victor label.[9]

All music composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell, except as noted.

No. Title Artist Length
1. "Opening Escape"     3:39
2. "Main Titles"     3:24
3. "The Evil Mr. Tweedy"     4:22
4. "Rats!"     1:09
5. "Chickens Are Not Organized"     1:01
6. "We Need a Miracle"     2:03
7. "Rocky and the Circus"     3:51
8. "Flight Training"     3:39
9. "A Really Big Truck Arrives"     5:58
10. "Cocktails and Flighty Thoughts"     1:56
11. "Babs' Big Break"     1:40
12. "Flip, Flop and Fly"   Ellis Hall 2:08
13. "Up on the Roof"     3:08
14. "Into the Pie Machine"     3:10
15. "Rocky, a Fake All Along"     3:28
16. "Building the Crate"     3:32
17. "The Wanderer"   Dion 2:47
18. "The Chickens Are Revolting"     2:45
19. "Lift Off"     3:41
20. "Escape to Paradise"     4:58
Total length:
58:19

Video game[edit]

Chicken Run is a stealth-based 3-D platformer based on the movie. The game is a loose parody of the film The Great Escape, which is set during World War II.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rex Weiner (10 April 1997). "Aardman on 'Run'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  2. ^ a b Spall, Timothy (2000). Fowl Play: The Making of Chicken Run. Picture Production. 
  3. ^ Dan Cox (4 December 1997). "D'Works' feat of clay". Variety. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  4. ^ "Chicken Run (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Chicken Run Movie Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  6. ^ Income weekend - June 23-25, 2000, Box Office Mojo
  7. ^ Income weekend - June 30-July 2, 2000, Box Office Mojo
  8. ^ DeMott, Rick (November 22, 2000). "Chicken Run Flies Into Stores". Animation World Network. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Chicken Run". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 

External links[edit]