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
|Edited by||Mark Solomon|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures (United States and Canada)
Pathé (United Kingdom and France)
Chicken Run is a 2000 British-French-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 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 somewhere in Yorkshire. Mrs. Tweedy is the malicious brains of the pair, while Mr. Tweedy is more dim-witted and believes the chickens are plotting against them, much to Mrs. Tweedy's exasperation. The chicken 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 has attempted numerous escapes, but is routinely thwarted by Mr. Tweedy and his dogs. Ginger becomes increasingly desperate to find a plan of escape after another hen named Edwina, who has not laid any eggs for a week, is slaughtered with a hatchet for the Tweedys’ dinner.
Seeing their income drop, Mrs. Tweedy finds an article in a magazine suggesting a new way to bring in more profits. 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 that night, she sees a Rhode Island Red rooster named Rocky, who hurtles over the fence and crash-lands in the coop, breaking his wing. After Ginger finds a piece of a circus poster suggesting Rocky can fly, she agrees to hide him from his owners if he teaches them how to fly. Rocky reluctantly agrees, and begins by putting 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, along with Babs no longer laying eggs, but not being taking for beheading, followed by Mrs. Tweedy's order to double their feed rations. Ginger concludes that they are being fattened up for slaughter. Soon after she is taken by Mr. Tweedy for a test of their new equipment, which is revealed to be 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, an older rooster who has been doubtful of Rocky's acts, now begins to respect him and gives Rocky his old Royal Air Force 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 Rocky flew by being shot out of a cannon, and in reality had no flying ability. Trying to rally the chickens, Fowler starts talking of his days in the RAF, which inspires Ginger to propose the construction of an aeroplane to fly all the chickens out at once. The chickens race against time to assemble their plane as Mr. Tweedy works to repair the pie machine. Meanwhile, Rocky sees a billboard for "Mrs. Tweedy's Chicken Pies" while biking along the countryside and grows concerned about Ginger and the others.
The chickens complete their makeshift plane just as Mr. Tweedy finishes repairing the pie machine and 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 during the process. A hatchet-wielding Mrs. Tweedy appears and attacks Ginger. Rocky returns to the farm in time and knocks Mrs. Tweedy out before helping Ginger set the ramp back in place and the pair climbs aboard the plane by grabbing a string of lights hanging from the landing gear. Mrs. Tweedy regains consciousness and also grabs hold and is dragged into the air, weighing the plane down. Ginger crawls down to try to cut the string. Mrs. Tweedy swipes at Ginger with her earlier-used hatchet and seemingly beheads her, but Ginger had dodged it and allowed the hatchet to cut the string, dropping Mrs. Tweedy into the pie machine and plugging its safety valve. This causes the machine to build pressure and explode, destroying the barn, the chickens continue their flight to freedom, eventually establishing their own sanctuary far from the farm.
- 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, a stout hen 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 runs 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 Disney, 20th Century Fox 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. Katzneberg explained that he had "been chasing these guys for five or six years, ever since I first saw Creature Comforts."
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 worldwide 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 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.". 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 21 November 2000.
|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"||5:56|
|10.||"Cocktails and Flighty Thoughts"||1:58|
|11.||"Babs' Big Break"||1:40|
|12.||"Flip, Flop and Fly" (composed by Charles Calhoun and Lou Willie Turner, and performed by Ellis Hall)||2:09|
|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" (composed by Ernest Peter Maresca, and performed by Dion)||2:47|
|18.||"The Chickens Are Revolting"||2:45|
|20.||"Escape to Paradise"||4:59|
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
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17 December 2000
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- 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