Wallace & Gromit Gets Crackin’

Today is the day fans of Aardman Animations’ clay-animated Wallace & Gromit shorts have been waiting for. Having starred in Oscar-winning brief adventures, the title plasticine duo arrive on the big screen with Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a DreamWorks Animation release. The critically acclaimed toon hops into a whopping 3,645 theaters nationwide to take on fellow stop-motion family flick Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and all other competitors.

In Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, we find the title pair the proprietors of Anti-Pesto, a humane pest control company currently employed in ridding gardens of hungry bunnies as the town’s annual vegetable growing contest nears. During a service call, Wallace falls for Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) and makes an enemy of Victor Quartermain (Ralph Fiennes), a huntsman and social climber who’s after a chunk of the Tottington fortune. More trouble arises when the town is terrorized by a mysterious beast that is gobbling up every bit of produce, even those cleverly guarded by Anti-Pesto devices. The feature will be preceded by A Christmas Caper, the new DreamWorks Animation short starring the mischievous penguins from Madagascar.

The big-screen debut for Wallace and Gromit was animated at Aardman in the U.K. using clay figures on exquisitely detailed, miniature sets. The fast-paced action was captured one frame at a time on 35mm film, which is a rarity on stop-motion shoots these days. Most stop-mo productions, including Corpse Bride, employ high-resolution still digital cameras for acquisition, allowing for immediate playback.

Directed by Nick Park and Steve Box, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is Aardman’s second collaboration with DreamWorks following the clay-animated hit movie Chicken Run, released in 2000. The entities have two more in development; the CG animated sewer rat adventure story Flushed Away and the John Cleese-scripted prehistoric comedy Crood Awakening.

For more details on the animation process behind the movie, see this month’s Animated People on our homepage. And be sure to check out the cover story on Curse of the Were-Rabbit in the October issue of Animation Magazine.