Chicken Run is a 2000 British-American-French stop-motion animated film produced by Aardman Animations. As the studio's first feature-length film, it was directed by Nick Park (who also created the Wallace and Gromit franchise) and Peter Lord. The film's genres are comedy and drama.
The plot centers on a group of British 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 chicken and vegetable pies.
Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy run a failing British 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 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 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.
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 as the chickens continue their flight to freedom.
Later, as the film concludes, the chickens have found a quiet island, which they call Chikin Sanctuary, 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.
Cast and Characters
- 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
- John Sharian as The Circus Man
- Debi Derryberry as Edwina
- Jo Allen, Lisa Kay & Laura Strachan as Chickens
Chicken Run was Aardman Animations' first feature-length production, which would be executive produced by Jake Eberts.
Chicken Run was first conceived in 1995 by Aardman's co-founder Peter Lord and Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park.
Pathé agreed to finance Chicken Run in 1996 putting their finances into Script Development and Model Design.
DreamWorks Pictures 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
DreamWorks secured their first animated feature with the film, and they distributed the film outside Europe to countries such as the United States and Australia, while Pathé distributed the film within Europe to countries such as the United Kingdom. The two studios also co-financed the film.
DreamWorks also retains rights to worldwide merchandising.
During the production of the film, thirty sets were used with eighty animators working along with one-hundred and eighty people working overall.
Despite this, one minute of film was completed with each week of filming
A sequel to Chicken Run was announced on 26 April 2018, Aardman Animations will reunite with Pathé and StudioCanal for the sequel though unlike the first film, DreamWorks Animation will have no involvement as they had ended their partnership with Aardman after the release of Flushed Away in 2006. Sam Fell is attached to direct, with Paul Kewley producing. The original Chicken Run writers Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell will return for the sequel, though no story information has been revealed. Aardman co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton will be the executive producers.
- Chicken Run received positive reviews from critics, and grossed over $224 million, becoming the highest-grossing stop motion animated film ever.
- After Rocky leaves, Bunty says "I don't even think he was American."
- This was a reference to the common misconception that Mel Gibson (Rocky's voice actor) was Australian when in fact he was American with Australian permanent residence.
- In an early script of Chicken Run:
- There was to be a scene inside the pie machine where Rocky saw a skeleton of a dead chicken and quipped "They bought a used machine! How cheap is that?".
- Initially, when it was revealed that Rocky never could fly because he was fired out of a cannon, there was to be a flashback that showed Rocky being stuffed into a cannon at the circus. However, the producers decided to cut this out of the movie so that they could shorten it and came up with the idea of Rocky's poster being torn in half and then pieced back together later on.
- Ginger was going to have a little brother named Nobby. He was removed in an attempt to make the film "less cute."