Chicken Run is a 1999 stop-motion comedy-drama film produced by the British studio Aardman Animations. As the studio's first feature-length film, it was directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park.
It was co-financed by DreamWorks Pictures and Pathé, with the former distributing the film worldwide except for Europe, where it was handled by Pathé.
Cast and Characters Edit
- Julia Sawalha as Ginger
- Mel Gibson as Rocky
- Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Tweedy
- Tony Haygarth as Mr. Tweedy
- Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler
- Timothy Spall as Nick
- Phil Daniels as Fetcher
- Jane Horrocks as Babs
- Imelda Staunton as Bunty
- Lynn Ferguson as Mac
The plot centres on a band of chickens who see a smooth-talking Rhode Island Red named Rocky as their only hope to escape from certain death when the owners of their farm decide to move from selling eggs to selling chicken pot pies. The film features the voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Timothy Spall, Phil Daniels, Tony Haygarth, and Miranda Richardson. Chicken Run received positive reviews from critics, and grossed over $224 million, becoming the highest-grossing stop motion animated film ever.
Full Plot Edit
Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy run a failing chicken farm in Yorkshire; the chickens are caged in the style of a World War II prison camp with a high fence and barbed wire, and two dogs patrol the grounds. Chickens that fail to produce enough eggs are slaughtered for food. Frustrated at the "minuscule profits" generated by the farm, Mrs. Tweedy comes up with the idea of converting their farm into the automated production of chicken pot pies.
One chicken, Ginger, has long had visions of escaping with the help of her hen friends Babs, Bunty, and Mac, and two black-marketer rats, Nick and Fetcher, who help to acquire "contraband" from the Tweedys to aid Ginger's plans. However, she is always caught and put into solitary confinement. While thinking of a new plan, Ginger witnesses a Rhode Island Red cockerel fly over the fence and crash into one of the coops, spraining his wing. Ginger and the other chickens help to hide him from the Tweedys and care for his wing, learning that his name is Rocky. Ginger is particularly interested in Rocky's ability to fly and begs him to help train her and the other chickens to do the same. Rocky is coy, but proceeds to try to help train the chickens, unable to fully demonstrate due to his broken wing. Meanwhile, Mr. Tweedy begins assembling their pie-making production line, and the chicken's food ration is doubled to fatten them.
Amid the training, Rocky holds a large party to help relieve the stress; it is revealed his wing is healed, and Ginger insists he show them how to fly the next day. However, Mr. Tweedy completes the production line and immediately grabs Ginger for a test run. Rocky is able to save Ginger and helps to damage the machine, giving the chickens only a short time to plan to escape while Mr. Tweedy repairs it. When morning arrives, Ginger finds Rocky has fled, leaving behind a part of a poster that shows him to be a stunt cockerel, shot out of a cannon from a nearby circus and unable to fly by himself. Ginger and the other chickens are depressed. Fowler the cockerel tries to cheer the hens up by telling tales from his days as a Royal Air Force mascot, leading Ginger to the idea of creating a flying machine, called the Old Crate, to flee the Tweedys. All the chickens, with help from the rats, secretly assemble the required parts for the plane from their coops while racing against Mr. Tweedy's repairs. While travelling the countryside, Rocky sees a billboard for Mrs. Tweedy's Chicken Pies and is inspired to go back to help.
With the machine now fixed, Mrs. Tweedy insists that Mr. Tweedy gather all the chickens, but the chickens are ready to escape. They knock Mr. Tweedy out and tie him up long enough to complete assembly of their plane. Just before they take off, Rocky returns and joins them. Whilst taking off, Mrs. Tweedy chases them down and catches onto a Christmas light strand snagged in the wheels. Mrs. Tweedy climbs the strand, intent on chopping Ginger's head off, while Ginger races to sever the strand. Ginger manages to trick Mrs. Tweedy into cutting the strand with her hatchet, sending her straight into the safety valve of the pie machine and plugging it, causing the machine to build pressure in its gravy line and explodes, destroying the machine and the barn. The chickens continue their flight to freedom.
Later, the chickens have found a quiet island where they can enjoy their freedom and raise their chicks, while Ginger and Rocky have developed a romantic relationship. Nick and Fetcher decide to start their own chicken farm for eggs but disagree on whether to have the chicken or the egg first.
Chicken Run was Aardman Animations's first feature-length production, which would be executive produced by Jake Eberts. Nick Park and Peter Lord, who runs Aardman, directed the film, while Karey Kirkpatrick scripted the film with additional input from Mark Burton and John O'Farrell.
Chicken Run was first conceived in 1995 by Aardman co-founder Peter Lord and Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park. Pathe agreed to finance Chicken Run in 1996 putting their finances into Script Development and Model Design. DreamWorks officially came on board in 1997. DreamWorks beat out studios like Disney, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. and largely won due to the perseverance of DreamWorks co-chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg; as a company they were eager to make their presence felt in the animation market in an attempt to compete with Disney's dominance of the field. Katzenberg explained that he had "been chasing these guys for five or six years, ever since I first saw Creature Comforts."
DreamWorks secured their first animated feature with the film, and they handled distribution in all territories except Europe, which Pathé handled. The two studios co-financed the film. DreamWorks also retains rights to worldwide merchandising. During the production of the film, 30 sets were used with 80 animators working along with 180 people working overall. Despite this, one minute of film was completed with each week of filming