DreamWorks, Aardman Flush Out Big Stars

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a couple of Lord of the Rings alumni have signed on to voice characters in Flushed Away, one of several upcoming feature collaborations between DreamWorks and Aardman Animation, the Bristol, U.K.-based studio behind the Oscar-winning Creature Comforts and Wallace and Gromit shorts.

Sir Ian McKellen, known best for playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Magneto in the X-Men films, will re-team with Andy Serkis, who provided the voice and motion-capture performance for the animated Gollum character in the last two Rings installments. McKellen may also reunite with fellow X-Man Hugh Jackman, who is in negotiations to join the Flushd Away cast.

As with their 2000 hit, Chicken Run, DreamWorks and Aardman will employ stop-motion animation to bring Flushed Away to the screen. The movie will tell the story of a highrise-dwelling fat rat who leaves the posh life when he accidentally gets flushed down the toilet and into the sewer where he makes new friends and learns how the other half lives. Jackman has his eye on the title role while McKellen is set to play the frog villain with Serkis as his rodent henchman, Spike. Serkis is also committed to Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong, for which he will provide growling and motion-capture data for the title character.

Henry Anderson, David Bowers and Sam Fell are directing Flushed Away from a script by Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais (The Commitments, Tracey Takes On). Aardman head Peter Lord is serving as exec producer and Lance Young is overseeing for DreamWorks.

DreamWorks and Aardman are now in production on the feature Wallace and Gromit: Curse Of The Wererabbit. Oscar-nominees Helena Bonham-Carter and Ralph Fiennes have signed on to voice characters in this big-screen debut for the plasticine duo, who find themselves hunting down a mysterious beast which has been ravaging their village’s prize marrows and potatoes just days before the giant vegetable-growing contest. Bonham-Carter will reportedly voice a new character named Lady Tottington, and Fiennes will provide the voice of Lord Victor Quatermaine. Curse of the Wererabbit is rumored to have a budget of $80 million and is slated for release sometime in 2005.