I was so, so, so happy when Aardman Animation (Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit) got a new distribution deal with Sony two months ago. And now I'm so, so, so happy that the two studios have announced four new projects, all of which sound amazing. It isn't clear what film will arrive in theaters first, nor in what order these films will be released at all, but considering Aardman's deal with Sony is only for three years, I'm guessing at least one of these will be in theaters by the end of 2008.
- First of note is the directorial return of Aardman co-founder Peter Lord (Chicken Run), who will be make an animated feature based on Gideon Defoe's The Pirates! series of books (the first, titled The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists, features Charles Darwin as a main character). The script is being written by Lord and Defoe with British television vets Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil (they also wrote the upcoming feature Gnomeo and Juliet).
- Oscar-winner Steve Box, who co-directed Curse of the Were-Rabbit, will direct The Cat Burglars, a supposed mix of Wallace and Gromit and Ocean's Eleven that equals "family-friendly Tarantino." Writing this one, along with Box, are partners Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh (British TV's Life on Mars).
- Four-time Oscar-winner Nick Park, who created the Wallace and Gromit characters, is working on a new feature, but the studios haven't specified exactly what it is. A few months back, when Aardman was still in flux, Park was said to be working on a new W&G project, but it probably wasn't a feature film. However, now that Sony has made feature films more possible for the animation studio, we can be hopeful that another full-length outing from our favorite cheese-lovers is in the works.
- Finally Aardman has tapped a special new screenwriter to work on an animated action film for the holiday season. Peter Baynham, who was nominated (with four other guys) for an Oscar for writing Borat, is scripting Operation Rudolph, which portrays Santa and the North Pole as being like a high-tech military force (a peaceful, present-delivering force).