British theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Lord
|Produced by||Peter Lord
|Screenplay by||Karey Kirkpatrick|
|Story by||Peter Lord
|Music by||John Powell
|Cinematography||Dave Alex Riddett
|Editing by||Mark Solomon|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures (United States)
Pathé (United Kingdom)
|Running time||84 minutes|
Chicken Run is a 2000 British-American 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.
The Tweedys are a middle-aged couple who run a struggling chicken farm in Yorkshire, England, circa the 1950s. 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 sits 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 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 the Tweedys work 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 (during this attempt, Mrs. Tweedy threatens to turn Ginger into a chicken pie, but upon Rocky's return, his tricycle hits Mrs. Tweedy's head and knocking her down, resulting in her accidentally throwing her hatchet like a boomerang and almost slicing Mrs. Tweedy's head, but of course misses, and seemingly defeats Mrs. Tweedy). Mrs. Tweedy then awakens and 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 with toy scissors (but unfortunately, is unable to). Mrs. Tweedy swipes at her with her hatchet, but is foiled by Nick and Fetcher launching the eggs at her. During this, the toy scissors fall out of Ginger's hands, resulting in her desperately forming a plan. 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 explodes in a mushroom cloud of gravy, destroying the barn as the chickens continue their flight to freedom. Mr Tweedy then criticizes 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.
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.
- 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 Rocky Rhodes for short), a cockerel who crashlands into the farm's chicken coop after fleeing from a circus.
- Miranda Richardson as Melisha 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. Willard Tweedy, Melisha's henpecked husband.
- Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler, an elderly cockerel 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.
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, 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. 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.
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.
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.
The film was praised by critics 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.". The film also holds a score of 88 based on 34 reviews on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim."
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. 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. 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.
Chicken Run was released on DVD and VHS on November 21, 2000. It will be released on Blu-ray on May 13, 2014, as part of a triple film set, along with DreamWorks Animation's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Flushed Away.
|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|
|Southeastern Film Critics||Best Film||Nominated|
|3.||"The Evil Mr. Tweedy"||4:22|
|5.||"Chickens Are Not Organized"||1:01|
|6.||"We Need a Miracle"||2:03|
|7.||"Rocky and the Circus"||3:51|
|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|
|18.||"The Chickens Are Revolting"||2:45|
|20.||"Escape to Paradise"||4:58|
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.
- Nick Park
- Aardman Animations
- Wallace and Gromit
- List of animated feature-length films
- List of stop-motion films
- Colditz Cock, a glider built by British prisoners of war for an escape attempt during World War II
- "Wallace and Gromit's Hollywood date". BBC. 9 March 2000. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- "Chicken Run | Mrs Tweedy". Telepathy LTD. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
- "Chicken Run | Mr Tweedy". Telepathy LTD. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
- Rex Weiner (10 April 1997). "Aardman on 'Run'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
- Spall, Timothy (2000). Fowl Play: The Making of Chicken Run. Picture Production.
- Dan Cox (4 December 1997). "D'Works' feat of clay". Variety. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
- "Chicken Run (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- "Chicken Run Movie Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- Armstrong, Josh (March 5, 2014). "DreamWorks to release "Chicken Run", "El Dorado" and more in Triple Feature Blu-ray sets". Animation Scoop. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
- "Chicken Run". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
- Official website
- Chicken Run at the Internet Movie Database
- Chicken Run at Metacritic
- Chicken Run at Rotten Tomatoes
- Chicken Run at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Chicken Run at Box Office Mojo
- Chicken Run at AllMovie