Chicken Run is a 2000 stop motion animated comedy film produced by the British studio Aardman Animations in partnership with American studio 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. The plot centres on a band of chickens who see a rooster named Rocky as their only hope to escape the farm when their owners prepare to turn them into chicken pies. The film features the voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Tony Haygarth, Miranda Richardson, and Benjamin Whitrow.
British theatrical release poster
|Screenplay by||Karey Kirkpatrick|
|Edited by||Mark Solomon|
|Box office||$225 million|
Chicken Run grossed over $224 million, becoming the highest-grossing stop motion animated film in history. A sequel is currently in development.
The chickens live in a farm run by The Tweedys. They try to escape, but are always caught. Frustrated at the minuscule profits that the farm generates, Mrs. Tweedy conceives an idea of converting the farm into automated production and having a pie machine in the barn in order to turn the chickens into pies. One day, Ginger, the leader of the chickens, observes a rooster crash-landing into the farm after being shot from a circus cannon. Ginger and the chickens hide him from The Tweedys and learn his name is Rocky. Ginger, interested in Rocky's flying abilities, begs him to help train her and the other chickens to fly. Rocky helps them, but in the meantime only gives them training lessons. Meanwhile, Mr. Tweedy builds the pie machine.
Later Rocky holds a party and Ginger insists he show them to fly the next day, but Mr. Tweedy finishes making the pie machine and puts Ginger in it for a test run. Rocky saves Ginger, giving them time to warn the others of The Tweedys' plan to make them into pies and only a short time for their escape. The next day, Ginger finds Rocky has fled, leaving behind part of a poster that shows him to be a stunt rooster, shot out of a cannon from a circus and unable to fly himself, depressing Ginger and the others. Fowler the rooster tries to cheer them by telling stories of the RAF, leading Ginger the idea of creating a plane to flee from the farm. The chickens assemble parts for the plane as Mrs. Tweedy insists Mr. Tweedy gather all the chickens to put into the machine, but when he comes in, the chickens attack Mr. Tweedy and gag him up as they finish the plane. Rocky returns and joins them, but whilst taking off, Mrs. Tweedy chases them down and grabs onto a strand. Mrs. Tweedy climbs it while Ginger races to sever it, managing to cut the strand, sending Mrs. Tweedy into the pie machine, causing it to explode. The chickens continue their flight to freedom, while Mr. Tweedy tells his wife he told her the chickens are organised. Mrs. Tweedy growls in rage but Mr. Tweedy has enough of her abuse so he pushes the heavy metal door down onto her. The chickens find an island where they enjoy their freedom, and Ginger and Rocky start a relationship.
- Julia Sawalha as Ginger, a hen who is determined to save her fellow chickens from their impending doom on the Tweedys' farm. She is usually the one that comes up with the ideas and is generally more intelligent than the other chickens.
- Mel Gibson as Rocky, a laid-back American circus rooster who crash-lands on the farm and teaches the chickens to fly at Ginger's request.
- Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Tweedy, a greedy and cantankerous lady who decides to convert her farm into a chicken pot pie factory solely for monetary reasons.
- Tony Haygarth as Mr. Tweedy, Mrs. Tweedy's oafish, henpecked husband. Despite his unintelligence, he is cruel to the chickens and more suspicious than his wife of their escape plans, and he correctly identifies Ginger as their leader.
- 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, Nick's slim, slow-witted partner.
- Jane Horrocks as Babs, the fattest of the chickens 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 brainy Scottish assistant.
Chicken Run was Aardman's first feature-length production, which would be executive produced by Jake Eberts. Nick Park and Peter Lord, who runs Aardman, directed the film, while Karey Kirkpatrick scripted the film with additional input from Mark Burton and John O'Farrell. Chicken Run was first conceived in 1995 by Aardman co-founder Peter Lord and Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park.
Pathé agreed to finance Chicken Run in 1996 putting their finances into script development and model design. DreamWorks Pictures 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. 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.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 97% approval rating and an average rating of 8.1/10 based on 170 reviews. The website's 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." The film also holds a score of 88 based on 34 reviews on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim." Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A- on scale of A to F.
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 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|
|3.||"The Evil Mr. Tweedy"||4:22|
|5.||"Chickens Are Not Organized"||1:01|
|6.||"We Need a Miracle"||2:03|
|7.||"Rocky and the Circus"||3:51|
|9.||"A Really Big Truck Arrives"||5:56|
|10.||"Cocktails and Flighty Thoughts"||1:58|
|11.||"Babs' Big Break"||1:40|
|12.||"Flip, Flop and Fly" (composed by Charles Calhoun and Lou Willie Turner, and performed by Ellis Hall)||2:09|
|13.||"Up on the Roof"||3:08|
|14.||"Into the Pie Machine"||3:10|
|15.||"Rocky, a Fake All Along"||3:28|
|16.||"Building the Crate"||3:32|
|17.||"The Wanderer" (composed by Ernest Peter Maresca, and performed by Dion)||2:47|
|18.||"The Chickens Are Revolting"||2:45|
|20.||"Escape to Paradise"||4:59|
Chicken Run was released on VHS and DVD on 21 November 2000. In July 2014, the film's North American distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures (owners of the pre-2005 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.
A sequel to Chicken Run was announced on 26 April 2018, with no release date set. Aardman Animations will reunite with Pathé and StudioCanal for the sequel though unlike the first film, DreamWorks Animation will have no involvement as they had ended their partnership with Aardman after the release of Flushed Away in 2006. Sam Fell is attached to direct, with Paul Kewley producing. The original Chicken Run writers Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell will return for the sequel, though no story information has been revealed. Aardman co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton will be the executive producers.
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