Because there is still good in this world, it has taken only about three months for Aardman Animation to find a new partnership in Hollywood. The animation studio, which DreamWorks mistakenly flushed away back in January, has a new deal with Sony, and it sounds like it will be a much better team-up for the Aardman gang than their last. Reportedly, Aardman will not face the same sort of assimilation it faced at DreamWorks, where its most recent picture, Flushed Away, suffered from too much Hollywoodization. Instead, it is expected to produce a new title every 18 months, each with different budgets and some being made with CGI (as opposed to the studio's signature claymation style), all with less restriction from Sony and all based out of Aardman's home base in Bristol rather than out of Hollywood. The deal is presently set at a three year agreement, but Sony seems hopeful about the partnership lasting a long time.
Sony should benefit just as much from the deal, which will increase its output of animated films. The studio recently got into the competitive animation market full force, and so far with Monster House and Open Season it has only been performing so-so (its next release is Surfs Up, coming out June 8). Aardman will be bringing familiar characters to the table, though, with confirmed new Wallace & Gromit features. The Aardman name is also a fairly known brand around the world, which should prove profitable for overseas distribution (which Sony seems to appreciate even more than others). The partnership already has four projects in the works -- they obvioulsy aren't wasting any time -- but we are still probably a few years away from seeing the first collaboration (I'm hoping one is the animated mockumentary Tortoise vs. Hare). Although I wish Sony could now grab Crood Awakening, which had originated as an Aardman project, away from DreamWorks, I am otherwise really happy about this partnership. I may even be happier than Wallace at a cheese buffet.