Citing anonymous sources, the New York Times reports that DreamWorks Animation and Aardman Animations are splitting up. With Aardman principals reportedly upset over creative control issues and DreamWorks under-whelmed with the box-office performance of Oscar winner Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the entities are likely to part ways after the Nov. 3 release of Flushed Away.
DreamWorks and Aardman first teamed for the 2000 clay-animated feature Chicken Run, which earned more than $100 million domestically and $224 million worldwide. The two companies then entered into a three-picture deal, kicking things off with the Wallace & Gromit feature, which was a hit overseas but made just $56 million in North America. For their latest collaboration, Flushed Away, the studios agreed to put aside stop-motion in favor of CG animation, but apparently clashed over creative differences and constant changes to the script.
In May of 2005, DreamWorks and Aardman announced at the Cannes Film Festival that they were collaborating on a fourth film, a Stone Age comedy-adventure titled Crood Awakening, which comic legend John Cleese was co-writing with Quest for Camelot scribe Kirk DeMicco. Now DreamWorks tells the Times that it has no immediate plans to work with Aardman beyond Flushed Away. Aardman will likewise seek out a new U.S. distribution partner, according to sources.