Chicken Run

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Chicken Run
Chicken run ver1.jpg
British theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay byKarey Kirkpatrick
Story by
  • Peter Lord
  • Nick Park
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography
Edited byMark Solomon
Music by
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 23 June 2000 (2000-06-23) (United States)
  • 30 June 2000 (2000-06-30) (United Kingdom)
Running time
84 minutes[5]
Countries
LanguageEnglish
Budget$42–45 million[6][5]
Box office$224.8 million[5]

Chicken Run is a 2000 stop-motion animated comedy film produced by Pathé and Aardman Animations in partnership with DreamWorks Animation.[7][8] Aardman’s first feature-length film and DreamWorks' fourth film, it was directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park from a screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick and story by Lord and Park.[9] 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 group of British anthropomorphic chickens who see an American rooster named Rocky Rhodes as their only hope to escape the farm when their owners want to turn them into meat pies.

Released to critical acclaim, Chicken Run was also a commercial success, grossing over $224 million, becoming the highest-grossing stop-motion animated film in history.[10] A sequel titled Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is scheduled to be released in 2023 on Netflix.[11]

Plot[edit]

A group of British anthropomorphic chickens live on an egg farm set up like a World War II Nazi German Concentration Camp. The farm is run by the cruel Mrs. Tweedy and her oafish-but-smarter husband Mr. Tweedy, who kill and eat any chicken that is no longer able to lay eggs. The chickens try to escape frequently, but are always caught. Frustrated at the minuscule and declining profits that the farm generates, Mrs. Tweedy gets an idea of converting the farm to automated production and having a machine turn the chickens into meat pies. Mr. Tweedy suspects the chickens’ sentience and wonders if they are plotting, but Mrs. Tweedy dismisses his theories.

One day, the chickens' leader, Ginger, witnesses an American rooster named Rocky Rhodes crash-land in the farm's coop; the chickens put his damaged wing in a cast and hide him from the Tweedys. Interested in Rocky's apparent flying abilities, Ginger begs him to help teach her and the chickens to fly. Rocky gives them training lessons while Mr. Tweedy builds the pie machine. Later that night, Rocky holds a dance party when his wing is healed; Ginger insists he demonstrates flying the next day, but Mr. Tweedy finishes the pie machine and puts Ginger in it for a test run. Rocky saves her and inadvertently sabotages the machine, buying them time to warn the chickens and plan an escape from the farm.

The next day, Ginger finds Rocky has left, leaving behind part of a poster revealing him as a former cannon stunt actor who is unable to fly, depressing her and the others. Elderly rooster Fowler tries to cheer them up by telling stories of his time as a mascot in the Royal Air Force, giving Ginger the idea to create a plane to flee the farm.

The chickens—with help from Nick and Fetcher (two rats who smuggle contraband)—assemble parts for the plane as Mr. Tweedy fixes the machine. Mrs. Tweedy orders Mr. Tweedy to gather all the chickens for the machine, but the chickens attack him, leaving him bound and gagged as they finish the plane. Meanwhile, Rocky encounters a billboard advertising Mrs. Tweedy’s chicken pies and returns to the farm out of guilt for abandoning the chickens. An alerted Mrs. Tweedy attacks Ginger as she helps the plane take off but is subdued by Rocky, who leaves with Ginger by holding onto a line of Christmas lights snagged by the departing plane. Mrs. Tweedy follows by climbing up the lights with an axe; Ginger dodges an axe swipe which cuts through the line, sending Mrs. Tweedy falling into the safety valve of the pie machine and causing it to explode. Having freed himself, Mr. Tweedy reminds Mrs. Tweedy of his warning that the chickens were organized, much to her frustration. The barn door then falls on Mrs. Tweedy, crushing her.

The chickens celebrate their victory while Ginger and Rocky kiss, and they fly to an island that they make their home. During the credits, Nick and Fetcher discuss starting their own chicken farm so they can have all the eggs they could eat, but then end up arguing over whether or not the chicken or the egg came first on top of a Chicken Sanctuary Keep Off Sign.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Julia Sawalha as Ginger, the de-facto British leader of the chickens who is determined to protect her friends from facing certain death.
  • Mel Gibson as Rocky Rhodes, an American circus rooster who crash-lands on the coop and must teach the chickens to fly.
  • Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Melisha Tweedy, Mr. Tweedy's evil, greedy and power-hungry wife and owner of the farm who wants to make the chickens into pies.
  • Tony Haygarth as Mr. Willard Tweedy, Mrs. Tweedy's oafish and hen-pecked husband and owner. Despite his low intelligence, he is more aware of the chickens' escape plans than his wife.
  • Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler, a feisty elderly rooster who prattles endlessly about his experiences in the Royal Air Force.
  • Timothy Spall as Nick, a cynical, portly rat who smuggles contraband into the compound.
  • Phil Daniels as Fetcher, Nick's slow-witted partner.
  • Jane Horrocks as Babs, a chubby and naïve hen who loves knitting.
  • Imelda Staunton as Bunty, the champion egg-layer and group cynic who is skeptical of Ginger's escape plans.
  • Lynn Ferguson as Mac, Ginger's genius Scottish assistant.

Production[edit]

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.[12] 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,[13] while Karey Kirkpatrick scripted the film with additional input from Mark Burton[citation needed] and John O'Farrell.[citation needed]

Pathé agreed to finance the film in 1996, putting their finances into script development and model design. DreamWorks officially came on board in 1997.[4][14] 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.[4] Katzenberg explained that he had "been chasing these guys for five or six years, ever since I first saw Creature Comforts."[4] DreamWorks secured their first animated feature with the film, and they handled distribution in all territories except Europe, which Pathé handled.[4] The two studios co-financed the film.[4] DreamWorks also retains rights to worldwide merchandising.[4] Principal photography began on 29 January 1998, 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, production wrapped on 18 June 1999.[14]

John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams composed the music for the film, which was released on 20 June 2000 under the RCA Victor label.[15][16][17]

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 173 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."[18] At Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[19] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[20]

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."[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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 an estimated budget of $42-45 million, 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[24] 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[25] Best British Film Nominated
Best Visual Effects Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics[26] Best Animated Feature Won
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics[27] 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[28] Best Film Nominated
Florida Film Critics[29] Best Animated Feature Won
Genesis Awards[30] Best Feature Film Won
Golden Globe Awards[31] Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated
Golden Tomato Awards 2000[32] Best Films Won
Kansas City Film Critics[33] Best Animated Feature Won
Las Vegas Film Critics[34] Best Family Film Won
Los Angeles Film Critics[35] Best Animated Feature Won
National Board of Review[36] Won
New York Film Critics[37] Won
Phoenix Film Critics[38] Won
Best Family Film Won
Best Original Score (John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams) Nominated
Satellite Awards[39][40] Best Motion Picture - Animated or Mixed Media Won
Best Sound Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics[41] Best Film Nominated

Home media[edit]

Chicken Run was released on VHS and DVD in the United States on November 21, 2000.[42] Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released Chicken Run on Blu-ray in North America on January 22, 2019.[43]

Sequel[edit]

A sequel to Chicken Run was confirmed on 26 April 2018.[44][45] It was also announced that Aardman Animations would be reuniting with StudioCanal. DreamWorks Animation will have no involvement due to ending their partnership with Aardman after the release of Flushed Away in 2006.[46] Sam Fell is attached to direct, with Paul Kewley and Nick Park producing.[47][48] The original Chicken Run writers Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell will return for the sequel.[49] Aardman co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton will serve as executive producers.[50][51]

On June 30, 2020—the 20th anniversary of the film's release in U.K. cinemas—Netflix announced that it had negotiated with Pathé and 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. Principal photography was expected to commence in 2021.[52]

Aardman said that Mel Gibson was not asked to return as Rocky in the sequel.[53] Although producers never fully explained why, it was speculated that the decision was made after Winona Ryder accused Gibson of making an antisemitic joke to her, while attending a party in 1995.[54] In July 2020, Julia Sawalha revealed Aardman's intention to recast her role of Ginger, saying her voice now sounded too old, and commented "I have officially been plucked, stuffed & roasted". The decision was met with widespread criticism with some finding the decision ageist.[55][56]

In January 2022, its sequel title was revealed as Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget and is set for a 2023 release on Netflix. Zachary Levi, Thandiwe Newton, David Bradley, Romesh Ranganathan and Daniel Mays were revealed to be respectively replacing Gibson, Sawalha, Whitrow, Spall and Daniels as the voices of Rocky, Ginger, Fowler, Nick and Fetcher, while Horrocks, Staunton, and Ferguson will respectively reprise their roles as Babs, Bunty, and Mac from the first film.[57] Bella Ramsey has been cast as Molly, while Nick Mohammed and Josie Sedgwick-Davies will voice two new characters, Dr. Fry and Frizzle respectively.[57]

Video game[edit]

Chicken Run is a stealth-based 3-D platformer based on the movie. It was released in November 2000 on most consoles. The game is a loose parody of the film The Great Escape, which is set during World War II.[58]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b "Chicken Run". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "Chicken Run (2000)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 10 March 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
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  8. ^ "'Chicken' Recipe Simply Divine / Action comedy blends great story, animation". 21 June 2000.
  9. ^ McCarthy, Todd (12 June 2000). "Review: 'Chicken Run'". Variety. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
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  57. ^ a b "New 'Wallace & Gromit' Film in Works From Aardman/Netflix; 'Chicken Run 2' Cast and Title Unveiled". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 January 2022.
  58. ^ "Chicken Run Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 26 September 2019.

External links[edit]