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DreamWorks and Aardman End Production Pact

DreamWorks Animation SKG and Aardman Animations Ltd. have officially ended their exclusive production partnership. 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.

"I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with Peter Lord, David Sproxton, Nick Park and the Aardman team for almost 10 years and highly respect their storytelling and filmmaking talents," said Jeffrey Katzenberg, ceo of DreamWorks Animation. "I am proud of the work we have created together and also greatly admire Aardman's passion and expertise for stop motion filmmaking and brilliant storytelling.

"Today, DreamWorks Animation is focused on producing two computer animated movies per year, with a full film slate laid out into 2010. While I will always be a fan and an admirer of Aardman's work, our different business goals no longer support each other."

The multi-picture deal between the two companies began in 1999 as an exclusive arrangement under which Aardman would produce and deliver up to five pictures to DreamWorks Animation. The companies' three collaborations were met with critical acclaim and received numerous awards, including a 2005 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT. With no new co-productions in development and DreamWorks Animation's slate announced for the next several years, DreamWorks Animation and Aardman decided to end the multi-picture deal.

"We've enjoyed a hugely successful and creative relationship with Jeffrey and DreamWorks Animation," stated Lord and Sproxton, co-owners of Aardman Animations, "but both companies are aware that our ambitions have moved apart, and it feels like the right time to move on. Aardman has an ambitious slate of feature film projects in development and we will announce our future production and distribution plans shortly."

DreamWorks Animation is principally devoted to developing and producing 3D-animated feature films. The company has theatrically released a total of 13 animated feature films, including ANTZ, SHREK, SHREK 2, SHARK TALE, MADAGASCAR, WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT, OVER THE HEDGE and FLUSHED AWAY. This year will see the release of SHREK THE THIRD (May 18) and BEE MOVIE (Nov. 2).

Aardman, based in Bristol (U.K.) co-founded and run by Lord and Sproxton, is a world leader in animation. It produces feature films, television series and television commercials for both the domestic and international market. Their multi-award winning stop motion productions are novel, entertaining, brilliantly characterized and full of charm.