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Chicken Run

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Chicken Run
Chicken run ver1.jpg
British theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay byKarey Kirkpatrick
Story by
  • Peter Lord
  • Nick Park
Starring
Music by
Cinematography
Edited byMark Solomon
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • 23 June 2000 (2000-06-23) (United States)
  • 30 June 2000 (2000-06-30) (United Kingdom)
Running time
80 minutes[1]
Country
  • United Kingdom[2]
  • United States[2]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$45 million[3]
Box office$225 million[3]

Chicken Run is a 2000 British-American stop motion animated comedy film produced by the British studio Aardman Animations. The studio's first feature-length film, it was directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park.[4] It was co-financed by DreamWorks Pictures and Pathé; the former distributed the film worldwide except for Europe, where it was handled by Pathé.[5] 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 pies. The film features the voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Timothy Spall, Phil Daniels, Tony Haygarth, and Miranda Richardson.

Chicken Run received critical acclaim, and grossed over $224 million, becoming the highest-grossing stop motion animated film ever.[6] A sequel is currently in development.

Plot

Mrs. Tweedy and Mr. Tweedy operate a meagre poultry farm in Yorkshire; the chickens are caged in the style of a World War II POW camp with a high fence and barbed wire, and two dogs patrol the grounds. Any hen that ceases to produce eggs is slaughtered for food. Frustrated at the 'minuscule profits' generated by the farm, Mrs. Tweedy conceives the idea of converting their farm into automated production after seeing an advertisement in a magazine.

One chicken, Ginger, has long had visions of escaping with the help of her hen friends Babs, Bunty, and Mac, and two black-marketer rats, Nick and Fetcher, who help to acquire 'contraband' from the Tweedys to aid Ginger's plans. However, she is always caught and put into solitary confinement. While thinking of a new plan, Ginger observes an American Rhode Island Red cockerel flying over the fence and crash into one of the coops, spraining his wing. Ginger and the other chickens help to hide him from the Tweedys and care for his wing, learning that his name is Rocky. Ginger is particularly interested in Rocky's ability to fly and begs him to help train her and the other chickens to do the same. Rocky is coy, but proceeds to try to help train the chickens, unable to fully demonstrate due to his sprained wing. Meanwhile, Mr. Tweedy begins assembling the production line, and the chickens' food ration is doubled in order to fatten them.

Amid the training, Rocky holds a large party to help relieve the stress; it is revealed his wing is healed, and Ginger insists he show them how to fly the next day. However, Mr. Tweedy completes the production line of a pie machine and immediately grabs Ginger for a test run. Rocky is able to save Ginger and helps to damage the machine, giving them time to warn the other chickens of the Tweedys' plan to make them into chicken pies and only a short time to plan their escape while Mr. Tweedy repairs the machine. The next day, Ginger finds Rocky has fled, leaving behind a part of a poster that shows him to be a stunt cockerel, shot out of a cannon from a nearby circus and unable to fly by himself. This makes Ginger and the other chickens depressed. Fowler the cock tries to cheer the chickens up by telling tales from his days in the Royal Air Force, leading Ginger to the idea of creating a flying machine, called the Old Crate, to flee from the Tweedys' farm. All the chickens, with help from the rats, secretly assemble the required parts for the plane from their coops and the Tweedy's farm while racing against Mr. Tweedy's repairs. While travelling the countryside, Rocky sees a billboard for Mrs. Tweedy's Chicken Pies and is inspired to go back to help.

With the machine now fixed, Mrs. Tweedy insists that Mr. Tweedy gather all the chickens, but the chickens are ready to escape. They gag Mr. Tweedy and tie him up long enough to complete assembly of their plane. Ginger expects Fowler to pilot the plane, but Fowler declines, admitting he was only a mascot in the RAF, not a real pilot. Nevertheless, Ginger convinces Fowler to fly it anyway. Just before they take off, Rocky returns and joins them. Whilst taking off, Mrs. Tweedy chases them down and grabs onto a Christmas light strand snagged in the wheels. Mrs. Tweedy climbs the strand with a hatchet, intent on decapitating Ginger, while Ginger races to sever the strand. Ginger manages to trick Mrs. Tweedy into cutting the strand, sending her straight into the safety valve of the pie machine and plugging it; pressure builds up and the machine explodes, destroying the barn. The chickens continue their flight to freedom, while Mr. Tweedy reminds his wife that he told her the chickens were organized. When she starts to growl in rage, Mr. Tweedy, having had enough of her abuse and hostility, pushes the heavy metal door down onto her, crushing her to death.

Months later, the chickens have found a quiet island where they can enjoy their freedom and raise their chicks, while Ginger and Rocky have developed a romantic relationship. Nick and Fetcher decide to start their own chicken farm for eggs, but disagree on whether to have the chicken or the egg first.

Cast

  • Julia Sawalha as Ginger, a hen 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 Rhodes, a laid-back American cockerel who crash-lands into the farm and "teaches" the chickens to fly at Ginger's request.
  • Miranda Richardson as Melisha Tweedy, a greedy and cantankerous lady who decides to convert her farm into a chicken pot pie factory solely for monetary reasons.
  • Tony Haygarth as Willard Tweedy, Mrs. Tweedy's oafish, henpecked husband. Despite his unintelligence, he's cruel to the chickens and is more suspicious than his wife of their escape plans, and he correctly identifies Ginger as their leader.
  • Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler, a feisty 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, a stout hen with a dim-witted innocence and a love of knitting.
  • Imelda Staunton as Bunty, the champion egg-layer and group cynic who is the most skeptical of Ginger's escape plans.
  • Lynn Ferguson as Mac, Ginger's brainy Scottish assistant.

Production

Chicken Run was Aardman's first feature-length production, which would be executive produced by Jake Eberts. Nick Park and Peter Lord, who runs Aardman, directed the film,[7] 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.[5][8] 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.[5] Katzenberg explained that he had "been chasing these guys for five or six years, ever since I first saw Creature Comforts."[5] DreamWorks secured their first animated feature with the film, and they handled distribution in all territories except Europe, which Pathé handled.[5] The two studios co-financed the film.[5] DreamWorks also retains rights to worldwide merchandising.[5] 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.[8]

Reception

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 97% approval rating and an average rating of 8.1/10 based on 170 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."[9] The film also holds a score of 88 based on 34 reviews on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim."[10]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave three and a half stars out of four, writing: "So it truly is a matter of life and death for the chickens to escape from the Tweedy Chicken Farm in Chicken Run, a magical new animated film that looks and sounds like no other. Like the otherwise completely different Babe, this is a movie that uses animals as surrogates for our hopes and fears, and as the chickens run through one failed escape attempt after another, the charm of the movie wins us over."[11][full citation needed]

Box office

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.[12] 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 theatres and finishing in fourth place.[13] The film's widest release was 2,953 theatres, 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.

Accolades

Group Category (Recipient) Result
Annie Awards[14] Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production (Nick Park and Peter Lord) Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production (Karey Kirkpatrick) Nominated
BAFTA Awards[15] Best British Film Nominated
Best Visual Effects Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics[16] Best Animated Feature Won
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics[17] 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[18] Best Film Nominated
Florida Film Critics[19] Best Animated Feature Won
Genesis Awards[20] Best Feature Film Won
Golden Globe Awards[21] Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated
Golden Tomato Awards 2000[22] Best Films Won
Kansas City Film Critics[23] Best Animated Feature Won
Las Vegas Film Critics[24] Best Family Film Won
Los Angeles Film Critics[25] Best Animated Feature Won
National Board of Review[26] Won
New York Film Critics[27] Won
Phoenix Film Critics[28] Won
Best Family Film Won
Best Original Score (John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams) Nominated
Satellite Awards[29][30] Best Motion Picture - Animated or Mixed Media Won
Best Sound Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics[31] Best Film Nominated

Soundtrack

John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams composed and produced the music for the film, which was released on 20 June 2000 under the RCA Victor label.[32][33][34]

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

No.TitleLength
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"5:56
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
19."Lift Off"3:41
20."Escape to Paradise"4:59
Total length:62:21

Home media

Chicken Run was released on VHS and DVD on 21 November 2000.[35] In July 2014, the film's North American distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures (owners of the pre-2005 DreamWorks Pictures catalog)[36] and transferred to 20th Century Fox before reverting to Universal Studios in 2018.

Sequel

A sequel for Chicken Run was announced on 26 April 2018, set for unknown release. Aardman Animations will reunite with Pathé and StudioCanal for the sequel though unlike the first film, DreamWorks will have no involvement as they ended their partnership with Aardman after the release of Flushed Away. Sam Fell is attached to direct, with Paul Kewley producing. The original Chicken Run writers Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell are reuniting for the sequel, though no story information has been uncovered. Aardman co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton will be the executive producers.[37][38]

Video game

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.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Chicken Run (2000)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Chicken Run (2000)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Chicken Run". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  4. ^ McCarthy, Todd (12 June 2000). "Review: 'Chicken Run'". Variety. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Cox, Dan (3 December 1997). "D'Works' feat of clay". Variety. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  6. ^ "The Longer View: British animation". BBC. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  7. ^ Rex Weiner (10 April 1997). "Aardman on 'Run'". Variety. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  8. ^ a b Spall, Timothy (2000). Fowl Play: The Making of Chicken Run. Picture Production.
  9. ^ "Chicken Run - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Chicken Run Movie Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Chicken Run Movie Review & Film Summary (2000) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com.
  12. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for June 23-25, 2000 - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com.
  13. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for June 30-July 2, 2000 - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com.
  14. ^ "28th Annual Annie". Annie Awards. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Bigger Better Baftas". Empire Online. 31 January 2001. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  16. ^ Armstrong, Mark (19 December 2000). "Broadcast Critics Eat Crowe". E! Online UK. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  17. ^ Reifsteck, Greg (8 January 2001). "Dallas crix pick 'Traffic'". Variety. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Billy aims to conquer Europe". BBC News. 8 November 2000. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Traffic is Florida favourite". BBC News. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  20. ^ "FIRST LOOK: The News in Brief, February 27, 2001". E! Online UK. 27 February 2001. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  21. ^ DeMott, Rick (21 December 2000). "Chicken Run Lays A Golden Globe Nom". Animated World Network. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  22. ^ Reifsteck, Greg (18 December 2000). "The 2nd Annual Golden Tomato Awards". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  23. ^ "KCFCC Award Winners – 2000-09". Kansas City Film Critics Circle. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  24. ^ Scherzer, Barbara (26 December 2000). "Las Vegas critics fete 'Erin,' 'Gladiator'". Variety. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  25. ^ King, Susan. "'Crouching Tiger' Wins Top Prize from L.A. Critics". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 17 December 2000
  26. ^ King, Susan (7 December 2000). "'Quills' Named Best Film by National Board of Review". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  27. ^ "Traffic wows New York critics". BBC News. 14 December 2000. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  28. ^ "Flashes From the week of January 18, 2001". Phoenix New Times. 18 January 2001. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  29. ^ Reifsteck, Greg (18 December 2000). "'Gladiator,' 'Traffic' lead Golden Sat noms". Variety. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  30. ^ Minotta, Mauricio (31 July 2011). "'Traffic,' 'Betty' Are Golden". Hollywood.com. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  31. ^ "2000 SEFCA Best Films of the Year". Southeastern Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on 13 June 2004. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  32. ^ "Chicken Run [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] - John Powell | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  33. ^ "Amazon.com: Chicken Run: Music". Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  34. ^ "Chicken Run Soundtrack (2000)". Soundtrack.Net. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  35. ^ DeMott, Rick (22 November 2000). "Chicken Run Flies Into Stores". Animation World Network. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  36. ^ Chney, Alexandra (29 July 2014). "DreamWorks Animation Q2 Earnings Fall Short of Estimates, SEC Investigation Revealed". Variety. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  37. ^ Travis, Ben. "Chicken Run Sequel Coming from Aardman". Empire. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  38. ^ "Chicken Run 2 confirmed after 18 YEARS of waiting". Digital Spy. 26 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.

External links