Early Man (film)

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Early Man
Early Man Poster.jpg
British theatrical release poster
Directed byNick Park
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Mark Burton
  • Nick Park
Produced by
CinematographyDave Alex Riddett
Edited bySim Evan-Jones
Music by
Distributed byStudioCanal
Release dates
  • 20 January 2018 (2018-01-20) (BFI Southbank)
  • 26 January 2018 (2018-01-26) (United Kingdom)
Running time
87 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$50 million[2]
Box office$54.6 million[3]

Early Man is a 2018 British stop motion animated sports comedy film directed by Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, written by Mark Burton and James Higginson, and starring the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Timothy Spall. The film follows a tribe of primitive Stone Age valley dwellers, who have to defend their land from bronze-using invaders in a football match. The film premiered on 20 January 2018 at the BFI Southbank cinema.

Released theatrically on 26 January 2018, the film received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the animation, voice acting, and humour, although some deemed it inferior to previous Aardman works.[4] The film was a Box-office bomb, only grossing $54 million against a budget of $50 million.


In 2 million B.C. during the Neo-Pleistocene era, an asteroid collides with prehistoric Earth, causing the extinction of the planet's dinosaurs, but sparing a tribe of cavemen living near the impact site. Finding a roughly spherical chunk of the asteroid that is too hot to touch, the cavemen begin to kick it around and invent the game of football.

Centuries later during the Stone Age, in the year 1 Million B.C., the impact site has become a 100,000-acre valley. Living in the valley is a young 26-year old caveman named Dug along with the 32-year old chief Bobnar, many other cavemen such as Asbo, Gravelle, Treebor, Magma, Barry, Grubup, Thongo, and Eemak, and his pet boar Hognob. One day, Dug suggests to Bobnar that they should try hunting woolly mammoths instead of rabbits as they always do, but Bobnar brushes him off, believing the tribe could not catch mammoths.

Later that night, a mysterious army of war mammoths led by Lord Nooth, a Bronze Age governor, drives the tribe out of the valley and into the surrounding volcanic badlands, proclaiming that the Stone Age has ended and that their time has begun. Dug tries to attack the army, but falls into a cart and is unknowingly taken to Nooth's 10,000 acre Bronze Age city.

While trying to evade the guards and escape, he ends up mistaken for a football player and led onto the pitch before a full stadium crowd. He challenges Nooth's elite local team to a match with the valley at stake and promises that the tribe will work in Nooth's mines forever if they lose. Nooth dismisses the proposal at first, but changes his mind once he realises that he can profit from the match.

Nooth later receives a Message Bird from Queen Oofeefa, having got word that Nooth's football team will challenge the cavemen. Nooth believes his team will win, but Oofeefa warns him to not underestimate Dug's team.

Dug discovers that although his ancestors played football, the other members of his tribe are too dim to understand it. They get chased by a 36-foot tall duck which ends up destroying their only ball. Later that night, Dug and Hognob sneak into the Bronze Age city to steal more balls but are found by a 25-year old resident named Goona.

Resentful over the team's exclusion of women, she helps them steal some balls and agrees to coach the cavemen. Goona points out that the players on Nooth's team are talented but too egotistical to work together effectively. The cavemen improve in skill and teamwork under her coaching.

Nooth learns from his men working in the mines that the cavemen's ancestors invented football from cave paintings. He receives the Message Bird from Oofeefa again and she has also learned the cavemen's ancestors invented football as well as the fact that they have been training every day and improving. Oofeefa concludes the message by telling Nooth that he will work in the mines if he disappoints her.

Two of his men working in the mine come with copies of more cave paintings which give Nooth an idea. To demoralise Dug, Nooth has him brought to the mines and shows him cave paintings made by his tribe's ancestors who, although they had invented the game and taught other tribes to play it, proved so inept at football that they never won a single match to other tribes and eventually gave up the sport.

Nooth then offers Dug a deal which he later agrees to. On the day of the match with Oofeefa in attendance, Dug announces his forfeiture as part of the deal which spares the rest of the tribe and agrees to take their place in the mines alone.

However, his reinvigorated teammates arrive on the now tamed giant duck and persuade him to break the deal and play the match. They are down 3–1 at half-time, but rally in the second half to tie the score. Nooth incapacitates the referee and takes his place, making biased calls in favour of the local team that leads to Bobnar, who is the cavemen's goalkeeper, being knocked out.

Hognob takes his place and blocks a penalty kick, and Dug scores using a bicycle kick to win the match for the cavemen, 4–3. The cavemen win their valley back with the respect of Oofeefa (who possibly made a trophy out of a meteorite), the local team, and the crowd. Nooth tries to escape and steal the crowd's admission money, but Dug and Goona stop him with help from the giant duck. Nooth is arrested for his crimes and everyone gets their money back.

Goona and Nooth's elite local team join Dug's tribe for a hunt, but they are frightened off by a rabbit pretending to be a woolly mammoth.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Eddie Redmayne as Dug, a young Stone Age caveman.[5][6]
  • Tom Hiddleston as Lord Nooth, an evil lord of the Bronze Age City.[7]
  • Maisie Williams as Goona, a tomboyish vendor and football enthusiast and Dug's eventual girlfriend in the Bronze City whom Dug befriends and has a crush on.[8]
  • Timothy Spall as Chief Bobnar, the chieftain of Dug's tribe.[6]
  • Miriam Margolyes as Queen Oofeefa, the queen of the Bronze Age City.[6]
  • Kayvan Novak as Dino, Lord Nooth's second in command and referee.[6]
    • Novak also voices Jurgend, the team captain of the Bronze City's football team.
  • Rob Brydon as Brian and Bryan, football commentators in the Bronze Age City that work for Queen Oofeefa.[6]
    • Brydon also voices Message Bird, a pigeon who carries messages.
  • Richard Ayoade as Treebor, a large and cowardly member of Dug's tribe who is constantly embarrassed by his mother.[6]
  • Selina Griffiths as Magma, a member of Dug's tribe who is the overbearing mother of Treebor.[6]
  • Johnny Vegas as Asbo, a fidgety member of Dug's tribe who often says "Champion".[6]
  • Mark Williams as Barry, a member of Dug's tribe who isn't bright and has a rock friend named Mr. Rock.[6]
  • Gina Yashere as Gravelle, an injury prone member of Dug's tribe.[6]
  • Richard Webber as Grubup, a hungry member of Dug's tribe who will eat anything.
  • Simon Greenall as Eemak, a warm and funny member of Dug's tribe who the other tribe has trouble understanding.[6]
    • Greenall also voices Thongo, a strong and silent member of Dug's tribe who mostly responds with a grunt.
  • Nick Park as Hognob, Dug's pet wild boar.[9]

In addition to a rabbit that Dug's tribe constantly hunts every day, a Ceratosaurus and a Triceratops, similar to the ones animated by Ray Harryhausen from One Million Years B.C., are seen fighting each other at the opening of the film prior to the asteroid striking Earth. In the end credits, they go by the name Ray (Ceratosaurus), and Harry (Triceratops).


In June 2007, two new films were announced by Aardman, one of them being appropriately joked as an "untitled Nick Park film, which is not another Wallace & Gromit feature film."[10] In May 2015, it was announced that the title of the film would be Early Man, and it would be financed by the British Film Institute for $50 million.

As with previous stop motion films created by Aardman, the characters in Early Man were developed over time with the voice actors to determine the way the characters look, move, and speak. The results were turned over to the film's 35 animators at the studio to work on individualizing the characters.[11] A crowd of people took part in an audio recording at the Memorial Stadium Home of Bristol Rovers.[12]

The studio began Principal photography on the film in May 2016 and wrapped on 5 October 2017.[13]


On 21 September 2017, a competition was launched on the CBBC television programme Blue Peter to design a prehistoric character inspired by Early Man, with the winner receiving the opportunity to see their character brought to life by Aardman, as well as receiving tickets to the premiere alongside the runners up. It closed on 12 October 2017, and the winner was announced in January 2018.[14]


Early Man was released in the United Kingdom on 26 January 2018, by StudioCanal. StudioCanal also distributed the film in France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.[15] In the United States, it was released on 16 February 2018, by Lionsgate, through its Summit Entertainment label. In Canada, It was released by eOne Films on the same day. [15]


Box office[edit]

Early Man was a massive failure, grossing only $8.2 million in North America and $46.3 million in other territories (including $15.8 million in the United Kingdom) for a worldwide gross of $54.6 million, against its budget of $50 million, it was deemed a box office bomb.

North America[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Early Man released alongside Black Panther and was projected to gross $5-$7 million on its opening weekend at 2,494 areas, it made $849K on its opening day, which was far below projections. It then opened to just $3.1 million at the box office, and $4.2 million on its President's Day weekend, averaging just $1,279 per theatre and finishing at seventh and had the fourth worst opening for an animated movie playing in over 2,000 theatres at the time, below Delgo, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 and Teacher's Pet. Most people agreed that the poor opening was due to the release of the highly-anticipated Black Panther. It dropped by 44.4% on its opening weekend, grossing $1.7 million and ranking tenth, while averaging $711 per theatre. On its third weekend, it dropped by 72.6% and dropped from 2,494 theaters to just 897 theaters, it made $486K on its third weekend, averaging just $542 per theater.


The film opened in the United Kingdom on January 26, 2018, and opened at fourth with $2.8 million, it stayed at fourth for another two weeks until moving down to sixth on its fourth week, making $2.1 million on its second weekend (dropping by 25.8%), and $1.5 million on its third week (dropping by 26.3%).

The top five international markets for the movie were United Kingdom ($15.7 million), France ($6.7 million), Spain ($3.3 million), Germany ($1.7 million) and Italy ($1.6 million).

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 81% based on 176 reviews, and an average rating of 6.7/10, making it the lowest rated film Nick Park has made. The website's critical consensus reads, "Early Man isn't quite as evolved as Aardman's best work, but still retains the unique visuals and sweet humor that have made the studio a favorite among animation enthusiasts."[4]

On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[17]

Some critics claimed the film is an allegory for Brexit. [18]


Award Category Nominee(s) Result
46th Annie Awards[19] Annie Award for Best Animated Feature "Early Man" Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Feature Production Howard Jones, Dave Alex Riddett, Grant Hewlett, Pat Andrew and Elena Vitanza Chiarani Nominated
Annie Award for Directing in a Feature Production Nick Park Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Laurie Sitzia Nominated
Annie Award for Music in a Feature Production Harry Gregson-Williams and Tom Howe Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Matt Perry and Richard Edmunds Nominated
Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production Eddie Redmayne Nominated
British Independent Film Awards[20][21] Best Effects Howard Jones Won
Hollywood Music in Media Awards[22] Original Song – Animated Film “Good Day”, Written and performed by New Hope Club Nominated
People's Choice Awards[23] The Family Movie of 2018 Early Man Shortlisted


Early Man: (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
Released26 January 2018
LabelGlobe: Soundtrack and Score
Universal Music UK
Singles from Early Man: (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  1. "Good Day"
    Released: 22 January 2018[24]
  2. "Tiger Feet"
    Released: 28 February 2018[25]

The soundtrack, titled Early Man: (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), was released under Lionsgate on 26 January 2018, the same day the film was released.

The film's score was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and Tom Howe. Gregson-Williams previously collaborated Park on the Aardman film Chicken Run.

Early Man: (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[26]
1."Good Day" (New Hope Club) 1:46
2."Hope" (The Vamps)(Album Only)3:15
3."Tiger Feet" (New Hope Club) 3:41
4."I Predict A Riot" (Kaiser Chiefs) 3:51
5."Dug's Theme" (Tom Howe and Harry Gregson-Williams) 2:40
6."Prehistoric Prologue" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 3:42
7."In The Valley" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 1:27
8."Meet Dug" (Gregson-Williams) 0:41
9."Meet The Tribe" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 2:12
10."Rabbit Ambush" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 1:02
11."Bronze Attack" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 2:17
12."City Of Bronze" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 1:04
13."Dug In Bronze Land" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 0:51
14."Stadium Chase" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 0:39
15."The Ancestral Call" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 1:04
16."The Message Bird" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 1:57
17."Giant Badlands Duck" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 3:10
18."Stealing Footballs" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 1:04
19."She Shoots, She Scores" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 0:45
20."Challenge The Champions" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 1:45
21."Harp Escape" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 1:59
22."They’re Not A Team" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 0:46
23."Message From The Queen" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 1:05
24."Foul Play" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 1:18
25."Revelations In The Mine" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 5:04
26."Royal Game Day" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 1:40
27."Forfeiture And Humiliation" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 2:10
28."Do It For The Valley" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 2:08
29."The Final Game" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 4:40
30."Chief Is Down" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 0:54
31."Hognob In Goal" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 3:34
32."Mousing Around" (Howe and Gregson-Williams) 1:07
33."Trophy Presentation" (Gregson-Williams and Howe) 1:34
Total length:60:57

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "EARLY MAN (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 16 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  2. ^ Jaafar, Ali (6 May 2015). "Studiocanal Doubles Down On Family Fare: Reteams With Nick Park And Gilles De Maistre For New Pics – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Early Man". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Early Man (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  5. ^ Ritman, Alex; Szalai, Georg (9 May 2016). "Cannes: Eddie Redmayne Joins Aardman's 'Early Man' Team". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Early Man: Cast & Crew". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Tom Hiddleston joins the cast of Early Man, voicing villainous Lord Nooth". Aardman. 19 October 2016. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Maisie Williams joins the cast of Nick Park's 'Early Man'". Aardman. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  9. ^ Rose, Steve (14 January 2018). "Early Man review – Aardman claymation comedy brings Brexit to the bronze age". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Aardman reveals new slate". Variety. 18 June 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  11. ^ Failes, Ian (3 April 2018). "Aardman Goes Back to Stop-Motion Basics with EARLY MAN". VFX Voice. Visual Effects Society. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Take part in a Crowd Record for Aardman's latest movie!". Aardman. 29 May 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Behind the scenes of Early Man with Nick Park, 33 animators and 37 sets".
  14. ^ KS (20 September 2017). "Blue Peter to launch Awesome Animation competition". BBC Media Centre. BBC. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  15. ^ a b McNary, Dave (25 May 2017). "Eddie Redmayne's 'Early Man' to Be Released by Lionsgate in North America". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Early Man reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  17. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (16 February 2018). "'Black Panther' Arrives: Thursday Previews Come In At $25.2M – Friday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Early Man review – Aardman claymation comedy brings Brexit to the bronze age". the Guardian. 14 January 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Nominees" (Press release). Annie Awards. 3 December 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  20. ^ Yang, Rachel (11 November 2018). "NOMINATIONS THE AWARDS 2018". BIFA. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  21. ^ Erbland, Kate (15 November 2018). "'The Favourite' Dominates BIFA Craft Awards With 5 Big Wins".
  22. ^ Yang, Rachel (16 October 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'A Star Is Born' Lead 2018 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Nominees". Variety. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  23. ^ Macke, Johnni (5 September 2018). "2018 People's Choice Awards: Complete List of Nominations". E! News. Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  24. ^ New Hope Club (22 January 2018). "Good Day". Vevo. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  25. ^ New Hope Club (28 February 2018). "Tiger Feet". Vevo. Archived from the original on 28 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  26. ^ Various artists. "Early Man: (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Amazon. Retrieved 26 January 2018.

External links[edit]