Chicken Run is a 2000 stop-motion animated comedy film produced by Pathé, Aardman Animations, and DreamWorks Animation. 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.
|Screenplay by||Karey Kirkpatrick|
|Edited by||Mark Solomon|
|Box office||$224.8 million|
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 chickens who see a rooster named Rocky as their only hope to evacuate the farm when their owners prepare to turn them into chicken 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. A sequel is in development.[when?]
A group of chickens live on an egg farm run by the evil Mrs. Tweedy and her oafish husband Mr. Tweedy, who defeat 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 a better idea of converting the farm to automated production and having a pie machine to turn the chickens into meat pies. A suspicious Mr. Tweedy wonders if the chickens are plotting, but Mrs. Tweedy dismisses his beliefs.
One day, the chickens' leader, Ginger, sees and witnesses a rooster named Rocky Rhodes crash-land in the farm's coop; the chickens put a cast on his damaged wing 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, Rocky holds a party when his wing is healed, and Ginger insists he demonstrates flying the next day, but Mr. Tweedy finishes making the pie machine and puts Ginger in it for a test run. Rocky saves her and inadvertently sabotages the machine, giving them time to warn the others of the Tweedys' plans and only a short time to escape.
The next day, Ginger finds Rocky has left, leaving behind part of a poster that reveals he was a stunt rooster, fired from a cannon and unable to fly himself, 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, still on the run, 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 line to defeat Ginger with an axe. As Mrs. Tweedy reaches her, Ginger dodges the ax blade 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. They eventually reach an island, where they enjoy their freedom and raise chicks without being disturbed; Ginger and Rocky start a relationship. The film ends with Nick and Fetcher engaging in a conversation about having their new chicken farm that follows into a debate about the origin of the chicken or the egg.
- Julia Sawalha as Ginger, a hen who is determined to guard and protect her fellow chickens from their impending doom on the Tweedys' farm and Rocky's love interest. She is usually the one that comes up with ideas and is generally more intelligent than the other chickens.
- Mel Gibson as Rocky Rhodes, a laid-back American circus rooster who crash-lands on the coop and teaches the chickens to fly at Ginger's request.
- Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Tweedy, a greedy and mean lady who decides to convert her farm into a chicken pot pie factory.
- Tony Haygarth as Mr. Tweedy, Mrs. Tweedy's oafish and henpecked husband. He is cruel to the chickens and, despite his unintelligence, more suspicious of their escape plans than his wife is, correctly identifying Ginger as the mastermind behind them.
- 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.
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. 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, while Karey Kirkpatrick scripted the film with additional input from Mark Burton and John O'Farrell.
Pathé agreed to finance the film in 1996, putting their finances into script development and model design. DreamWorks officially came on board in 1997. 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. Katzenberg explained that he had "been chasing these guys for five or six years, ever since I first saw Creature Comforts." DreamWorks secured their first animated feature with the film, and they handled distribution in all territories except Europe, which Pathé handled. The two studios co-financed the film. DreamWorks also retains rights to worldwide merchandising. 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.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 97% approval rating and an average rating of 8.1/10, based on 172 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." At Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
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."[full citation needed]
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. 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. 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.
|Annie Awards||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||Best British Film||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Nominated|
|Broadcast Film Critics||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics||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||Best Film||Nominated|
|Florida Film Critics||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Genesis Awards||Best Feature Film||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|Golden Tomato Awards 2000||Best Films||Won|
|Kansas City Film Critics||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Las Vegas Film Critics||Best Family Film||Won|
|Los Angeles Film Critics||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|National Board of Review||Won|
|New York Film Critics||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics||Won|
|Best Family Film||Won|
|Best Original Score (John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams)||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Motion Picture - Animated or Mixed Media||Won|
|Southeastern Film Critics||Best Film||Nominated|
Chicken Run was released on VHS and DVD on November 21, 2000. In July 2014, the film's North American distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures (owners of the pre-2011 live-action DreamWorks Pictures catalog) and transferred to 20th Century Fox 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. After Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's physical and digital agreement of the Pathé catalog expired on 30 June 2021 in the UK and Ireland, the film's UK and Ireland distribution rights were reverted to Pathé Distribution (including Chicken Run) via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
After years of lying dormant, a sequel to Chicken Run was confirmed in April 2018. It was also announced that Aardman Animations would be reuniting with StudioCanal and Pathe. DreamWorks Animation will have no involvement after they had ended their partnership with Aardman after the release of Flushed Away in 2006. Sam Fell is attached to direct, with Paul Kewley and Nick Park producing. The original Chicken Run writers Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell will return for the sequel. Aardman co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton will serve as executive producers.
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 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. Principal photography is expected to commence in 2021.
Aardman said that Mel Gibson was not asked to return for his role as Rocky in the sequel, as he was going to be recast. 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. Ginger's voice actress Julia Sawalha made a statement in July 2020 revealing Aardman's intention to recast her character, saying 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.
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.
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