Aardman Features is in final negotiations to enter into a three-year, first-look deal with Sony Pictures Ent.
Commenting on the announcement, Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Ent., said, "We have been huge fans of Aardman films for a long time and this deal greatly expands Sony's commitment to animation in the worldwide marketplace. Aardman makes movies with lively humor, great stories, and fun distinctive visuals. They have boundless creative energy and a passion for animation that is hard to resist. We couldn't be more excited about working with the entire Aardman team."
Michael Lynton, chairman/ceo of Sony Pictures Ent., said, "Aardman Features are enormously popular all over the world. We believe that their strength is their unique storytelling humor, sensibility and style and we plan to bring their distinctive animated voice to theaters for a long time to come. This is a tremendous coup for Sony Pictures Entertainment as we continue to expand into animation and we are thrilled that Nick Park, Peter Lord and David Sproxton have joined the Sony family."
Stephen Moore, coo of Aardman and head of Aardman Features adds, "Over the past 18 months we have worked hard to create a new vision for Aardman Features. This includes an expanded development slate, increased production and plans to introduce new technical capabilities at our facility in Bristol. This agreement with Sony Pictures is very much at the heart of our new vision as they passionately support both Aardman's existing core creative values and enthusiastically support our creative ambitions for the future."
David Sproxton, Aardman co-founder and exec chairman continues,"We know from experience that we create our best work when we do it from our home base here in Bristol, using first class talent from the nation and around the world. It is Aardman's intention to expand this community to produce more world class animated feature films. Pete, Nick and I are delighted to find a partner in Sony that shares our vision and believes in our core values, who will support and encourage us to produce our finest work. We are all very excited by the potential and have a number of projects we are keen to bring to fruition with this new relationship."
In January, Aardman officially ended its exclusive production partnership with DreamWorks Animation SKG. Together the two companies have collaborated on three feature films: CHICKEN RUN (2000) and WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT (2005), which typified Aardman's trademark stop motion format, and FLUSHED AWAY (2006), which marked their first 3D-animated collaboration but which under performed at the box office.