Film News

Aardman back in motion with two Sony pics

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - “Arthur Christmas” and “Pirates!” will be the first two features produced under Aardman Animations’ deal with Sony Pictures.

Aardman co-founder Peter Lord will be back behind the camera for “Pirates!,” which will use the company’s signaturehand-crafted stop-motion animation, seen in films such as “Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and “Chicken Run.”

“Pirates!” is based on the best-selling series of books by Gideon Defoe that began with “The Pirates! (in an Adventure with Scientists).” The story, fashioned as a swashbuckling adventure with a rich vein of surreal and broad comedy, will follow a group of pirates who journey to London and meet Charles Darwin and a talking chimp named Mister Bobo, while an enemy tries to wipe them out.

Lord is co-directing the movie, his first since “Chicken Run,” with Jeff Newitt, with the screenplay by Defoe.

“Christmas,” which will be produced wholly in computer-generated imagery, will tackle the question of how Santa delivers all his presents in one night. Sarah Smith and Barry Cook are directing from a script by Peter Baynham (“Borat”).

Aardman signed a three-year, first-look deal with Sony in 2007. The company, which had parted ways with DreamWorks Animation in the wake of the disappointing performance of “Flushed Away,” has spent the past two years hunkered down in development, honing several scripts. “Pirates!” and “Christmas” are the first two to land on the production runway.