Details have finally emerged for the (very) long-awaited sequel to Aardman’s 2000 hit Chicken Run, still the most-successful stop-motion animation film 22 years after its release, plus a first-look image.
First revealed by The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 and since swooped on by Netflix, the film is set to be entitled Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, will land on the streamer in 2023, and, despite featuring the same characters as the first, has cast a mostly new lineup of voice stars.
Replacing Mel Gibson as Rocky the heroic rooster is Zachary Levi (a recasting of the Gibson role became known in 2020 after accusations of racism resurfaced, although Aardman claimed the decision had been made long before). Meanwhile, Thandiwe Newton takes over from Julia Sawalha as Ginger (like Gibson, news that Ginger was being recast was revealed in 2020, with Sawalha accusing the producers of “ageism“). Meanwhile, young Game of Thrones star Bella Ramsey will voice Rocky and Ginger’s daughter, Molly.
Filling out the chicken coop are British stars young and old. Reprising their roles from the first movie are Jane Horrocks as Babs, Imelda Staunton as Bunty and Lynn Ferguson as Mac, joined by new additions Josie Sedgwick-Davies (Hound & the Rabbit) as Frizzle, David Bradley (Harry Potter) as Fowler, Romesh Ranganathan (Cinderella) as Nick, Daniel Mays (Good Omens) as Fetcher and Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso) as Dr. Fry.
Set shortly after the death-defying escape from Tweedy’s farm in the original, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget sees Ginger having finally found her dream — a peaceful island sanctuary for the whole flock, far from the dangers of the human world. When she and Rocky hatch a little girl called Molly, Ginger’s happy ending seems complete. But back on the mainland, the whole of chicken-kind faces a new and terrible threat. For Ginger and her team, even if it means putting their own hard-won freedom at risk — this time, they’re breaking in!
Sam Fell (Flushed Away, The Tale of Despereaux, ParaNorman) directs from a script by Karey Kirkpatrick, John O’Farrell and Rachel Tunnard, with Steve Pegram (Arthur Christmas) and Leyla Hobart producing. Peter Lord, Carla Shelley, Karey Kirkpatrick and Nick Park are returning as executive producers.
In other major stop-motion news, Aardman has revealed that it is teaming with Netflix on a new film featuring its most famous creations, Wallace & Gromit, for the first time in 14 years when Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death was released.
Nick Park, who hinted that he had more plans for his Oscar-winning duo back in 2019, will direct the as-yet-untitled film alongside Merlin Crossingham, who was his second unit director on Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and animation director on Early Man, from a script by Mark Burton (Madagascar, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Shaun the Sheep Movie). Claire Jennings (Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Coraline) produces. The film will premiere exclusively on Netflix around the world except in the U.K., where it will debut first on the BBC before also coming to Netflix.
The story — devised by Burton and Park — will see Gromit’s growing concern that Wallace has become over-dependent on his inventions justified when he invents a “smart gnome” that seems to develop a mind of its own. As events spiral out of control, it falls to Gromit to put aside his qualms and battle sinister forces – or Wallace may never be able to invent again! No news of the voice cast has yet been revealed.
Both Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget and the new Wallace & Gromit film are part of a growing creative collaboration between Aardman and Netflix. The first project from it was the festive stop-motion short Robin Robin, released late last year and recently named on both the Oscar and BAFTA longlists for animated short films.