Shout! Factory Signs Distribution Deal for Iconic Aardman Titles

Indie distributor Shout! Factory July 6 announced it signed an agreement to gain North American distribution rights to several titles and franchises from the Aardman animation studio.

The agreement provides Shout! Factory with exclusive physical home video, digital sellthrough and VOD rights, as well as limited theatrical rights, in the United States and Canada to “Wallace & Gromit,” “Shaun the Sheep,” “Timmy Time” and “Morph.”

“We’re big fans of Aardman and these wonderful films and series and are very much looking forward to creating a release plan that excites dedicated fans and creates new ones,” said Melissa Boag, EVP of kids and family at Shout! Factory. “Aardman’s worldwide reputation as an innovative home for compelling stories that captivate audiences make them an ideal partner for Shout! Factory.”

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“Wallace and Gromit” have been Aardman’s flagship characters sing debuting in Nick Park’s Academy Award-winning Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out in 1989. The pair went on to star in three more shorts — 1993’s The Wrong Trousers, 1995’s A Close Shave and 2009’s A Matter of Loaf or Death — and the 2005 feature Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Most recently, the duo featured in their first augmented reality story, “The Big Fix Up,” that launched in 2021, and a new Wallace & Gromit film has been announced for 2024, directed by Nick Park and Merlin Crossingham.

“Shaun the Sheep” is a TV series based on the character that first appeared in Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave. The series, created by Richard Starzak, launched on BBC One in 2007. The first Shaun the Sheep Movie with feature film partner Studiocanal was released in 2015, followed by a sequel, Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, in 2019. A new festive special Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas was released in December 2021.

Timmy is the littlest lamb in Shaun the Sheep’s flock and the star of his own award-winning spin-off series “Timmy Time,” which premiered on CBeebies in April 2009 and is broadcast in over 150 territories worldwide. Timmy Time is set in a Nursery and the core audience are preschoolers. Each episode follows a day in the life of Timmy and his friends as they learn about life and friendship. The original series consisted of 78 10-minute episodes with no dialogue. Aardman recently produced an updated version of Timmy Time for a new generation of fans, creating five-minute edits of the original episodes and featuring a child’s voiceover. Aardman and the British Council joined forces in 2014 to create “Learning Time With Timmy” — a multi-dimensional learning experience to help children aged 2-6 around the world to learn the English language. The portfolio has various learner touchpoints including face to face courses in themed venues around the world, apps, complementary merchandise and an animated video series which launched on a dedicated YouTube channel in 2018.

Morph is an animated clay character who made his TV debut in 1977 in the children’s BBC program “Take Hart,” alongside the artist and presenter Tony Hart. He was one of Aardman’s first creations and was later joined by his cream-coloured partner-in-crime Chas. Morph was a regular fixture on children’s television throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Most recently Morph has been featured in the series “The Epic Adventures of Morph” that launched on Sky Kids and NowTV in 2020.

“We are thrilled to be entering into such a great partnership with Shout Factory, who are real experts in the physical and digital ownership space,” said Laura Taylor-Williams, head of digital and strategic development at Aardman. “To be delighting North American audiences once again with our much-loved catalog is key to our new strategy. We are collaborating on an exciting release schedule that will speak to ardent Aardman fans as well as bringing our joyful animations to new audiences.”

The distribution deal was negotiated by Boag and Jordan Fields, SVP of acquisitions and originals, on behalf of Shout! Factory, and Taylor-Williams and Alison Taylor, director of Distribution, for Aardman.

Netflix Teams With Aardman for New ‘Wallace & Gromit’ Movie, ‘Chicken Run’ Sequel

Netflix will release a new “Wallace & Gromit” film and the sequel Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget through its collaboration with stop-motion animation company Aardman Animations.

The sequel to Chicken Run, the highest-grossing stop-motion animated film of all time, will be coming exclusively to Netflix in 2023, according to the service. In Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, having pulled off a death-defying escape from Tweedy’s farm, Ginger has 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 — they’re breaking in. The voice cast includes Thandie Newton (Ginger), Zachary Levi (Rocky), Bella Ramsey (Molly), Jane Horrocks (Babs), Imelda Staunton (Bunty), Lynn Ferguson (Mac), Josie Sedgwick-Davies (Frizzle), David Bradley (Fowler), Romesh Ranganathan (Nick), Daniel Mays (Fetcher) and Nick Mohammed (Dr Fry) .

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Also, Nick Park is returning to his roots with a new film starring his Oscar-winning characters “Wallace & Gromit.” The film will premiere exclusively on Netflix around the world except in the United Kingdom, where it will debut first on the BBC before also coming to Netflix. Park will direct alongside Aardman’s creative director of “Wallace & Gromit” Merlin Crossingham, with Mark Burton onboard to write. In the as-yet-untitled film, set for a 2024 release, Gromit’s concern that Wallace has become overdependent on his inventions proves justified when Wallace 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.

Last year, Aardman and Netflix released the companies’ first project collaboration, the animated musical Robin Robin, which recently made the Oscars shortlist and BAFTA longlist for animated short films.

Netflix Gets New ‘Shaun the Sheep’ Movie, Tyler Perry Drama

Netflix has acquired the U.S., Canadian and Latin America rights to Aardman’s A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon from StudioCanal, which will be available on the service in early 2020. French-based StudioCanal and its worldwide distribution partners are releasing the stop-motion animated film in the rest of the world.

A number of Aardman’s titles, such as Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Flushed Away and Shaun the Sheep Movie, are currently available on Netflix in most countries.

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Separately, Tyler Perry announced on social media that his new drama, A Fall From Grace, will begin streaming on the platform on Jan. 17.

“My next movie guys!!! This is an amazing thriller!!!” Perry tweeted on Nov. 22. The cast includes Crystal Fox, Phylicia Rashad, Bresha Webb, Cicely Tyson and Perry.

Perry remains busy co-launching the BET+ streaming service with Viacom, in addition to launching an original children’s series with Nickelodeon.

Lionsgate Bringing ‘Early Man’ to Disc

Lionsgate will release the stop-motion animated film Early Man on digital May 15, followed by Blu-ray, DVD and on demand May 22.

From the Aardman animation studio, the prehistoric romp tells the story of Dug the caveman and his goofy friends who challenge invaders to a game of soccer in order to win back their home.

The film, which earned $8.3 million at the domestic box office, features the voice talents of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams and Timothy Spall.

Blu-ray and DVD extras include the featurettes “Before the Beginning of Time: Creating Early Man,” “Nick Park: Massaging the Funny,” “The Valley Meets the Bronze” and “Hanging at Aardman Studios: A Workshop Exploration.”