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
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • 23 June 2000 (2000-06-23) (United States)
  • 30 June 2000 (2000-06-30) (United Kingdom)
Running time
84 minutes[3]
Country
  • United Kingdom[4]
  • United States[4]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$45 million[3]
Box office$224.8 million[3]

Chicken Run is a 2000 stop motion animated comedy film produced by the British studio Aardman Animations in partnership with American studio DreamWorks Animation, and French studio Pathé. The studio's first feature-length film, it was directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park from a screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick and story by Lord and Park.[5] The film stars the voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Tony Haygarth, Miranda Richardson, Phil Daniels, Lynn Ferguson, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, and Benjamin Whitrow. The plot centres on a band of chickens who see a rooster named Rocky as their only hope to escape the farm when their owners prepare to turn them into chicken pies.

Chicken Run grossed over $224 million, becoming the highest-grossing stop motion animated film in history.[6] A sequel is in development.

Plot[edit]

The chickens live in a farm run by the Tweedys. They try to escape, but are always caught. Frustrated at the minuscule and declining profits that the farm generates, Mrs. Tweedy conceives an idea of converting the farm to automated production and having a pie machine in the barn in order to turn the chickens into meat pies. One day, Ginger, the leader of the chickens, observes a rooster named Rocky crash-landing into the farm after being shot from a circus cannon. Ginger and the chickens hide him from the Tweedys. Ginger, interested in Rocky's flying abilities, begs him to help teach her and the chickens to fly. Rocky gives them training lessons in the meantime while Mr. Tweedy builds the pie machine. Later, Rocky holds a party and Ginger insists he show them to fly the next day, but Mr. Tweedy finishes making the pie machine and puts Ginger in it for a test run. Rocky saves Ginger, giving them time to warn the others of the Tweedys' plan to make them into pies and only a short time for their escape.

The next day, Ginger finds Rocky has fled, leaving behind part of a poster that shows him to be a stunt rooster, shot out of a cannon from a circus and unable to fly himself, depressing Ginger and the others. Fowler the rooster tries to cheer them up by telling stories of being an RAF (Royal Air Force) division mascot, leading Ginger the idea of creating a plane to flee from the farm. The chickens assemble parts for the plane as Mrs. Tweedy insists Mr. Tweedy gather all the chickens to put into the machine, but when he comes in, the chickens attack Mr. Tweedy, leaving him bound and gagged, as they finish the plane. Rocky returns and joins them, but while taking off, Mrs. Tweedy chases them and climbs up a strand of lights while Ginger races to sever it, managing to cut the strand, sending Mrs. Tweedy into the pie machine, which causes it to explode. The chickens continue their flight to freedom, and find an island where they enjoy their freedom, and Ginger and Rocky start a relationship.

Voice cast[edit]

  • 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 ideas and is generally more intelligent than the other chickens.
  • Mel Gibson as Rocky, a laid-back American circus rooster who crash-lands on the farm and teaches the chickens to fly at Ginger's request.
  • Miranda Richardson as Mrs. 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 Mr. Tweedy, Mrs. Tweedy's oafish, henpecked husband. Despite his unintelligence, he is cruel to the chickens and more suspicious than his wife of their escape plans, and he correctly identifies Ginger as their leader.
  • Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler, a feisty elderly rooster who regularly prattles about his Royal Air Force experiences.
  • Timothy Spall as Nick, a cynical, portly rat who smuggles contraband into the compound.
  • Phil Daniels as Fetcher, a rat who is Nick's slim, slow-witted partner.
  • Jane Horrocks as Babs, the fattest of the chickens. She is 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 genius Scottish assistant.

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,[7] while Karey Kirkpatrick scripted the film with additional input from Mark Burton[citation needed] and John O'Farrell.[citation needed] Chicken Run was first conceived in 1995 by Aardman co-founder Peter Lord and Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park. According to Park, the project started as a spoof on the 1963 film The Great Escape.[8]

Pathé agreed to finance the film in 1996, putting their finances into script development and model design. DreamWorks Pictures officially came on board in 1997.[9][10] 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.[9] Katzenberg explained that he had "been chasing these guys for five or six years, ever since I first saw Creature Comforts."[9] DreamWorks secured their first animated feature with the film, and they handled distribution in all territories except Europe, which Pathé handled.[9] The two studios co-financed the film.[9] DreamWorks also retains rights to worldwide merchandising.[9] 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.[10]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 97% approval rating and an average rating of 8.1/10, based on 171 reviews. The website's critics 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."[11] At Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[12] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[13]

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."[14][full citation needed]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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 still the highest grossing stop motion animated movie.

Accolades[edit]

Group Category (Recipient) Result
Annie Awards[17] 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[18] Best British Film Nominated
Best Visual Effects Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics[19] Best Animated Feature Won
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics[20] 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[21] Best Film Nominated
Florida Film Critics[22] Best Animated Feature Won
Genesis Awards[23] Best Feature Film Won
Golden Globe Awards[24] Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated
Golden Tomato Awards 2000[25] Best Films Won
Kansas City Film Critics[26] Best Animated Feature Won
Las Vegas Film Critics[27] Best Family Film Won
Los Angeles Film Critics[28] Best Animated Feature Won
National Board of Review[29] Won
New York Film Critics[30] Won
Phoenix Film Critics[31] Won
Best Family Film Won
Best Original Score (John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams) Nominated
Satellite Awards[32][33] Best Motion Picture - Animated or Mixed Media Won
Best Sound Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics[34] Best Film Nominated

Soundtrack[edit]

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.[35][36][37]

All music is 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 Mrs. 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[edit]

Chicken Run was released on VHS and DVD on 21 November 2000.[38] In July 2014, the film's North American distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures (owners of the pre-2005 live-action DreamWorks Pictures catalog) and transferred to 20th Century Fox[39] before reverting to Universal Studios in 2018. As a result, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released Chicken Run on Blu-ray in North America on 22 January 2019.[40]

Sequel[edit]

After years of lying dormant, a sequel to Chicken Run was confirmed on 26 April 2018.[41][42] It was also announced Aardman Animations was reuniting with Pathé and StudioCanal; DreamWorks Animation, a partner in the original film, had ended their partnership with Aardman after the release of Flushed Away in 2006.[43] Sam Fell is attached to direct, with Paul Kewley and Nick Park producing.[44][45] The original Chicken Run writers Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell will return for the sequel.[46] Aardman co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton will serve as executive producers.[47][48]

Netflix announced on 23 June 2020, coincident with the 20th anniversary of the film, that they negotiated with Pathé and StudioCanal to acquire the rights to the sequel. Fell was able to give more details about the sequel, which will follow from the ending of the first film, where the chickens have settled into their new safe area. Molly, the chick of Ginger and Rocky, begins to outgrow the area, just as word of a new threat to the chickens arrives. With Netflix on the film, principal photography is expected to start in 2021.[49]

Aardman announced Mel Gibson will not be reprising his role as Rocky in the sequel,[50] as he was recast after Winona Ryder accused him of making an antisemitic remark to her, whilst attending a party in 1995.[51] On 10 July 2020, Ginger voice actress Julia Sawalha made a statement revealing Aardman's intention to recast her character, stating that she is now considered to sound too old, and commented "I have officially been plucked, stuffed & roasted". The decision was met with widespread criticism with some finding the decision ageist.[52][53]

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.[54]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Chicken Run (2000)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Chicken Run (2000) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Chicken Run at Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Chicken Run (2000)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 10 March 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  5. ^ McCarthy, Todd (12 June 2000). "Review: 'Chicken Run'". Variety. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  6. ^ "The Longer View: British animation". BBC. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  7. ^ Rex Weiner (10 April 1997). "Aardman on 'Run'". Variety. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  8. ^ "Chat with Nick Park and Peter Lord". BBC. 28 October 2014. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Cox, Dan (3 December 1997). "D'Works' feat of clay". Variety. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  10. ^ a b Spall, Timothy (2000). Fowl Play: The Making of Chicken Run. Picture Production.
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  14. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Chicken Run Movie Review & Film Summary (2000) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
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  18. ^ "Bigger Better Baftas". Empire. 31 January 2001. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  19. ^ Armstrong, Mark (19 December 2000). "Broadcast Critics Eat Crowe". E! Online UK. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
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  21. ^ "Billy aims to conquer Europe". BBC News. 8 November 2000. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
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  29. ^ King, Susan (7 December 2000). "'Quills' Named Best Film by National Board of Review". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
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  51. ^ "Mel Gibson fired from 'Chicken Run' sequel after Winona Ryder accuses him of anti-Semitism with 'oven-dodger' comment". knewz.com. 23 June 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  52. ^ Grater, Tom (10 July 2020). "Chicken Run' Actress Julia Sawalha Says She Is Being Re-Cast In Sequel For "Sounding Too Old"". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
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External links[edit]