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Dreamworks Dumps Wallace and Gromit 189

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the just-need-some-space dept.
Tiger4 writes "Aardman Animation and Dreamworks are splitting their relationship. Apparently Dreamworks feels they lost money on 'Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit' and 'Flushed Away.' So off to their separate ways they go. Aardman is going back to stop motion and clay, Dreamworks will be staying with their CGI ways." In addition, Aardman Animation announced that a new Wallace and Gromit film is in the works.
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Dreamworks Dumps Wallace and Gromit

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  • I say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadUndergrad (950779) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:14AM (#17856066)
    good riddance to CG where it's neither needed nor wanted.
    • Re:I say (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DarkLegacy (1027316) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:19AM (#17856098) Homepage
      Funny, I didn't know that Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbitway featured any CG. It seemed like it was claymation to me. Just shows how realistic CG gets nowadays.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jpardey (569633)
        I think they might have used computer animation for backgrounds and unwieldy scenes, but it was mostly clay, as far as I know. However, I think the point was mainly now that we know for a fact that Dreamworks will not be contributing CG animation to Ardman.
        • Re:I say (Score:4, Informative)

          by suv4x4 (956391) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:57AM (#17856520)
          I think they might have used computer animation for backgrounds and unwieldy scenes, but it was mostly clay, as far as I know.

          In Flushed Away, it was CGI, including the characters. They *made* them look like clay though, and it looks pretty convincing, except their body language is kinda too smooth or versatile for a clay doll at times (required by the script though).
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by openaddy (852404)
            To my eyes the CG in "Flushed Away" wasn't convincing clay at all. When I saw the commercial for "Flushed Away" for the first time, my immediate thought was, "Hey, some CG company stole the Aardman's design!" I even told this to a friend who's a huge W&G fan. I found out later that Aardman's gone CG. There's something about the texture and the lighting in "Flushed Away" (and other CG stuff) that immediately screams "CG!!" Having said that, the CG in "Wererabbit" was very well mixed in and difficult t
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AgNO3 (878843)
          Flushed Away was 100% CG.
      • Re:I say (Score:5, Informative)

        by 91degrees (207121) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:50AM (#17856236) Journal
        Quite a bit actually. Mostly just effects, but IMDB says "The movie contains a considerable amount of CGI of all kinds, from drifting fog through to the bunny rabbits in the Bun-Vac. In all, there are over 700 shots that contain some kind of digital effects work.". But spiritted away had a lot of computer generated backgrounds. This is when CGI is used properly - when you don't really notice it.
        • Re:I say (Score:4, Interesting)

          by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:35AM (#17856416)
          Good points although as Mark Kermode (UK film critic) noted, one of the strengths with clay as opposed to CGI is the quality of lighting and in the main, the lighting in the W&G movie was superb. CGI state of the art is damn fine but you can't beat 'real' light for making a scene look good.
          • Re:I say (Score:5, Interesting)

            by jimicus (737525) on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:42AM (#17856712)
            There was an article in a local newspaper interviewing Nick Park (his company's based in Bristol, UK) - he said that while he liked the flexibility CGI offered him, he didn't like working with a US team as communication was difficult and they lost too much control over the end result.

            I think this is just Dreamworks trying to gloss over that by announcing that it didn't make them any money so they want out.
            • i'm willing to bet it was both - because while i'm sure nick will enjoy getting the control back, he and his partners will miss all that cash coming in.
            • Re:I say (Score:5, Interesting)

              by MsGeek (162936) on Friday February 02, 2007 @11:44AM (#17859380) Homepage Journal
              Dreamworks basically has as much clue with regard to Aardman as Disney has with Studio Ghibli: NONE.

              Dreamworks buried both Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Flushed Away. They had NO IDEA how to promote the movies, and basically threw up their hands and said "OMG it's too British." They also took Innocence: Ghost In The Shell II and buried it. That was a freaking impressive movie on a big screen. It just doesn't have the same impact on your TV.

              Same with Disney. They have buried all of the movies they released for Studio Ghibli. They made more of a noise for Valiant than Howl's Moving Castle.

              I think that both Dreamworks and Disney see Aardman and Ghibli product respectively as DVD fodder. I suspect that Miyazaki-sensei will be the next one to take his ball and play elsewhere. The Aardman move was in the works even before Flushed Away was released. Aardman was ticked, to say the least, about how Were-rabbit was released.
              • by 2nd Post! (213333)
                I hope you're wrong. I hope that the Pixar takeover of Disney signals good things for Disney-Ghibli collaboration.
              • The promoted it (Score:3, Informative)

                by el americano (799629)
                Don't take it personally if Flushed Away didn't get the same box office that other movies in that market usually do. They did the full marketing job on it, complete with MacDonalds and Breakfast Cereal tie-ins. Fortunately, this shouldn't affect their ability to continue producing films.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Funny, I didn't know that Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbitway featured any CG. It seemed like it was claymation to me. Just shows how realistic CG gets nowadays.
        The fact that this was modded "Troll" just shows how unrealistic SD can get nowadays.
      • by 2.7182 (819680)
        Just a few things had to be done with CGI. For example, fire and the floating rabbits in the BV-6000.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fermion (181285)
        Some of the rabbits were CG, particularly when floating around the bun-vac. I am sure there were other instances.

        Hand made films are extremely expensive and are becoming out of style, like black and white films. We see this with Titan A.E. and the death of hand drawn animation.

        What Aardman does is an art, and there is little room for art in the major studios. As much as I respect Dreamworks, serperating Aardman from the real plasticine is a crime. OTOH, I say no problem with supplementing the plasti

      • by lostboy2 (194153)
        I have the Curse of the Wererabbit DVD. There might be some CGI stuff thrown in as well, but it's mainly claymation (specifically, plasticine-mation [wikipedia.org]). The extras include a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff showing people putting together plasticine bunnies and all of the characters.

      • The bunny vac with the chamber of floating bunnies had to be done with CGI, since it was technically near impossible otherwise.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      Aardman should have never been in bed with Dreamworks to begin with. Aardman has always been known for its painstaking craftsmanship and quirky sense of wit. Dreamworks turns out CGI garbage full of "forgotten 5 minutes from now" lame pop-culture references.

      Maybe now Aardman can go back to focusing on the kind of stuff that made them great to begin with, now that they're free of DreamWorks' "That's great, but can we put Will Ferrell in it and parody some pop stars?" philosophy.

      Was the money really THAT

  • Dreamworks is dead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bacon Bits (926911) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:19AM (#17856092)
    Sorry, but Dreamworks is just a name now. SKG sold out quite awhile ago.
  • Gromit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blowdog (993153) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:21AM (#17856104)
    Oh well Gromit lets have a cup of tea and a nice bit of cheese. The UK still loves you Ardman
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by zambotsu (607783)
      "Oh well Gromit lets have a cup of tea and a nice bit of cheese. The UK still loves you Ardman"

      .. and not a sheep to worry about, eh?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lordmoose (696738)
      Um, the USA still loves Ardman too. Not everybody over here just blindly takes their kids to any CGI crapfest that happens to be playing. I took my daughter and niece to see COTWW in the theater and they loved it.
    • Re:Gromit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @11:10AM (#17858862)
      I hate doing a "me too!" post, but I would also like to chime in that there are PLENTY of us Americans who love Wallace and Gromit too (the same goes for Creature Comforts as well). And I absolutely DESPISE Dreamworks and their CGI crapfests.

      -Eric

      • Re:Gromit (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dr00g911 (531736) on Friday February 02, 2007 @01:48PM (#17861642)
        I think a distinction needs to be made between the PDI campus and Dreamworks proper -- Dreamworks actually has two separate CG animation houses. PDI/Dreamworks is the one that produces Shrek & Madagascar (halfway decent), while the other Dreamworks campus has been responsible for Antz, Shark Tale, Over the Hedge, and a multitude of other crapfests.

        As an animator, the level of craftsmanship, timing & pacing in Madagascar was pretty noteworthy. They pushed the CG animated medium pretty far with huge amounts of squash & stretch, smears and exaggeration. Disclaimer: I know a couple of guys that work on the PDI campus.

        That's not to say that I don't long for old school claymation and traditional 2D sometimes, but the end result is slowly becoming more about the artists involved than the tools they use if you've got a good crew and director.

        I'm both happy and sad to see Aardman more away from Dreamworks, though. They'll get even less exposure in the US, but they won't have a big US corporate megalith to report to, watering down their unique style and humor.
  • by VAY (455170) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:22AM (#17856108)
    ...when winning an Oscar just isn't enough.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Duds (100634) *
      Oscars don't come with cheques.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @07:49AM (#17857062) Homepage Journal

        Oscars don't come with cheques
        No, but they used to come with a nice gift-bag, though.

        I've had it with this cheap-ass movie industry. If Dreamworks doesn't apologized to Wallace and Gromit, I'm going to strap some blinking cartoon characters around my body and go to the next Academy Awards ceremony.
      • by hackstraw (262471) *
        Oscars don't come with cheques.

        No, but they are kinda like IOUs though, because it helps sell future works.

  • by Circlotron (764156) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:35AM (#17856172)
    If "Tottie" is in the next movie, I'm getting it for sure. What a doll ;-) http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40707000/jpg /_40707970_w3.jpg [bbc.co.uk]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Epeeist (2682)
      Shaun the sheep is apparently involved in the next production.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Bassman59 (519820)

        Shaun the sheep is apparently involved in the next production.

        Shaun The Sheep Of The Dead!

  • by clickety6 (141178) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:42AM (#17856198)

    "...everybody knows Hollywood's made of cheese".

    "They're crackers! We've forgotten they're crackers!"

    "No more Americans -- more trouble than they're worth! I could just fancy some cheese, Gromit. What do you say? Cheddar?... All's well that ends well, that's what I say. Uhmm... I do like a bit of gorgonzola..."

    "It's the wrong company Gromit. And they've gone wrong"

    Plus raised eyebrows and a pained look from Gromit of course!
  • Smart Move? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FeldBum (933176) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:07AM (#17856300) Homepage
    The best two animated films Dreamworks put out since Toy Story and they're dropping the production company? I guess we can look forward Shark Tale 2: Out of Water, Farther Over the Hedge and Madagascar II: Kung Fu Panda (one of those is actually the real name for a planned sequel). Didn't Were Rabbit win a freakin' Oscar?
    • Re:Smart Move? (Score:5, Informative)

      by owlnation (858981) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:21AM (#17856352)
      Toy Story was Pixar, not Dreamworks. Dreamworks did Shrek, which was excellent. Shrek 2 was better and Shrek 3 is coming soon.

      And while WereRabbit was a brilliant movie, Flushed away was really not.
      • I disagree - I thought Flushed Away was probably the best animated film in the last year. And this is coming from a complete Pixar fan, who also happens to be a motor racing nut. All of which might actually be my biggest problem with Cars - I just had way too high hopes for it (yes, I liked it - just not enough).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by clickety6 (141178)
        Dreamworks did Shrek, which was excellent. Shrek 2 was better and Shrek 3 is coming soon.

        Personally I thought Shrek had a much funnier and coherent script than Shrek 2 which pushed the "just like our world only done with magic" joke until it became stale.

        BUT I never understood why oh why was Robin Hood bloody FRENCH in Shrek!?! That's like sticking in Paul Bunyan and giving him a giant pink sheep instead of a blue ox - or having George Washington do a guest appearance speaking like Sergeant Schultz! "I di
      • by Tim Browse (9263)

        Dreamworks did Shrek, which was excellent. Shrek 2 was better and Shrek 3 is coming soon.

        I sometimes think I'm the only person that thought Shrek was tired, formulaic and uninspired. The animation was a bit rubbish, too.

      • My only problem with Shrek, and specifically Shrek 2 was that it was totally inappropriate to advertise it to children. Now, I think that if you want to let your 8 year old watch porn, it is your right as a parent to choose what is and is not appropriate for your child, but trying to trick people into taking their kids to movies that are loaded with sex is just not right. Many people try to tell themselves that 'it goes over the kids heads'. That is just plain wrong. Pretty much every kid that watched S
        • Pretty much every kid that watched Shrek 2 knew that Puss'n'Boots was giving himself a blowjob when the princess walked in and thought he was Shrek.

          every kid who knows cats knows what this cat was doing. He was cleaning himself in the usual odd places. This is what cats do. That is funny and that is why it's in there. The idea that the cat was doing anything else at that time never occurred to me, but of course I was never exposed to Fritz the Cat when I was 8.

          And she walked out, not in. Neh!
          • by Belial6 (794905)
            Sorry, but when the character talks like a man, walks like a man, and dresses like a man, you don't get to play the 'It was just a cat' card. Kids watching these movies see the characters as people, and that is how the makers of the movie intended it. If an anthropomorphized animal doesn't count, then to complain about showing Fritz the Cat to a child is just hypocritical. The vast majority of 'childrens' movies are loaded with inappropriate sexual content, and the excuse of 'they are animals, so it does
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Just a few minor points:
      1) Toy Story - Pixar film, not DreamWorks
      2) Shark Tale 2 - Will never happen, Shark Tale didn't make enough money
      3) There is no such movie Farther Over The Hedge
      4) Madagascar 2 and Kung Fu Panda are seperate films

      Ardman movies have been the lowest box office returns for DreamWorks Animation.

      At the end of the day, DWA is a business. If it is not making money, they can't afford to keep doing it.

      And besides, I don't agree on the Ardman films being the best. They were ok, I preferred t
    • Re:Smart Move? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by el_womble (779715) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:36AM (#17856422) Homepage
      Dreamworks don't understand animated movies. They understand celebrity and set-pieces, but they don't understand movies.

      Dreamworks CGI movies are a series of set-pieces held loosly together by a lame plot. This works great for kids because they just skip to the bit they like, and don't really get the plot anyway, but if you want to convince a parent to pay to go and see it at a cinema you need more. At best they draw an adult audience because of celebrity pulling power - and comes away feeling cheated.

      Dreamworks was always going to be a poor choice for Aardman. Perhaps this will make Disney/Pixar wake up and adopt them. They seem to have similar goals. I'd also expect them to split their concerns so that they have Aardmen for clay and Pixar for CGI.
      • Personally I thought Shrek and Shrek 2 were brilliant. Must just be me and every other adult I've spoken to.
        • Me too. And I thought Madagascar was great too. Which apparently puts me and every adult I know in an even bigger minority.

          On the other hand, this is Slashdot, where nobody thinks Family Guy is funny because, like, it's just pop-culture references, I mean, dude, how unoriginal and unfunny can you get? (Continue in "I don't have a television, actually" smug voice for a few hours.)

        • Re:Smart Move? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by shess (31691) on Friday February 02, 2007 @11:29AM (#17859170) Homepage
          *Shrug*. I like Shrek and Shrek 2 a great deal, but they _are_ just a series of set pieces strung together which only works due to the casting. For the most part, Pixar creates pretty amazing movies which feel greater than the sum of their parts in many ways. That doesn't mean that Dreamworks absolutely sucks, it's just a differe style.

          It's like Disney versus Warner Brothers. Initially, Warner Brothers was cheap and wanna-be, but over time they really came into their own by developed a cutting wit which simply wasn't present in the Disney pieces. I don't think Dreamworks is there yet, but it could happen.
  • I'm not a huge fan of animated kid movies, but I rather liked Flushed Away. It's sad that it didn't do well enough for the duo to do more movies.
  • Apparently Dreamworks feels they lost money on 'Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit'

    Did any decent movie released in 2005 make money?

    Anyway, "Wererabbit" was brilliant, but not noticably more so than the preceeding shorts - in fact, although I've watched the DVD several times I can't even remember whether I went to see it in the cinema or not. More half-hour shorts for TV/DVD, guys! Cinema is just a rather cost-innefective way of advertising DVDs.

    • Did any decent movie released in 2005 make enough money to satisfy the people running the studio?

      Nope. They haven't got the Scrooge McDuck-esque treasury built up yet.

  • Praise the Lord! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leptonhead (791323) on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:47AM (#17856470)
    Wallace and Gromit and Aardman's other work are such uniquely funny creations (notably, with the exception of the horrid Flushed Away) that I am very happy to see them separate from the marketing machine of Dreamworks. Hopefully this means we will be getting more of that subtle, relaxed British humor as opposed to try-hard material based on focus-group approval ratings that you can expect from a U.S. behemoth like Dreamworks. Not to say that the latter doesn't have its place in the entertainment industry, because it does - as has been proven by the many excellent achievements of this company - but coupled together with Aardman, there is no synergy, just mutual deprecation.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      It's funny, but I had posted almost the exact same comment above before I saw your post. I think a lot of people are talking about this like it's a LOSS for Aardman, when it's actually a great GAIN for them (and a loss for Dreamworks). Those two never fit together anyway. Aardman should have never prostituted themselves to Dreamworks to begin with, no matter how much money was involved. Now Aardman can go back to their painstakingly-detailed claymation and clever timeless wit. And Dreamworks can go back to
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:47AM (#17856478)
    This announcement is just the "official" one. The decision to dump Aardman was made years ago when Katzenberg was frustrated by Aardman's inability to turn Tortoise & The Hare from a deeply flawed concept (a mockumentary) into something American audiences would want to see. Aardman's refusal to relinquish the merchandise rights for W&G to Dreamworks was the final straw. Since then, we've just been seeing death spasms of this relationship.

    I'm not saying either party is in the wrong, but the whole deal was a disaster waiting to happen. The surprise success of Chicken Run gave everyone rose-tinted glasses. Katzenberg only ever really wanted W&G.
  • Great news. (Score:3, Funny)

    by iainl (136759) on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:09AM (#17856576)
    Katzenberg just doesn't understand Park's humour at all (he spells it humor for a start), and is responsible for just about every missed note in both Chicken Run and particularly Flushed Away. It was nice to have their cash to play with, but if it means yet more painfully compromised films which make stupid decisions in a failed attempt to appeal to Americans, then good riddance.

    Now Dreamworks can go back to concentrating on dire, 'hip' CG extravaganzas with all the lasting appeal of a rotten pear.
    • by Tim Browse (9263)

      I read a magazine article about Katzenberg - around the time of (I think) Madagascar's release. Possibly I have the wrong movie there. Anyway. The story was related of how Katzenberg has the Midas touch, and was watching an animation from a scene involving an altercation between two characters. Katzenberg's suggestion was to have one character "kick the other one in the ass" at the end. This really "made the scene" apparently, and was proof of Katzenberg's five-star comedy genius.

      I remember making up

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Right about now, somewhere in America, a Dreamworks director is thinking "I should have Will Ferrell voice this character, and have the screenwriter throw in an American Idol parody scene. Surely that will never be dated."

      -Eric

  • Purple and Brown (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ettlz (639203) on Friday February 02, 2007 @06:11AM (#17856584) Journal
    The British psyche has long had a soft-spot for all things Aardman and their distinct style of claymation, coupled with quintessentially UKian humour. Check out this example [youtube.com] and the many others from those unflappable blobs.
  • Well, not any more. I think aardman got what they needed - they became a slightly better known in america. The curse of the were-rabbit was a very funny film, but when you compare it to Aardmann's other stuff, it has some noticeable lackings. The humour isn't quite as good, and goes for the guaranteed laugh rather than the actual funny stuff.

    Aardmann are an excellent creative company and the last thing they need is a company like dreamworks breathing down their back.

    That said, dreamworks are good, I loved t
  • language barrier (Score:2, Informative)

    by DrLang21 (900992)
    Actually from what I heard, the real problem was that the studios just didn't like working with eachother.
  • by bytesex (112972) on Friday February 02, 2007 @07:37AM (#17856988) Homepage
    Their liaison with Dreamworks got Aardman (write it correctly, people!) through a very difficult period after their warehouse (and workplace) burnt down. Now that they're back on their feet doing a few experimental things in the US, they can go on doing things in plasticine, using British humour. I'd say praise them both !
  • by KokorHekkus (986906) on Friday February 02, 2007 @07:40AM (#17857010)

    Apparently Dreamworks feels they lost money on 'Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit' and 'Flushed Away.'
    After checking the box office figures (over at boxofficemojo.com) I can buy that 'Flushed Away' was a loss with a production budget of $149 million and just a lifetime boxoffice gross of $170 million. But 'Curse of the Were Rabbit' did very nicely since with its smaller $30 million budget it pulled in a worldwide gross of $192 million. Haven't seen 'Flushed Away' so it's hard for me to judge on how much a quality difference and how much it was mis-timing (happens more often with animations I heard). With a luckily timed release, not too expensive production and perhaps a good idea handle of the demographics you can make money on almost anything... "Stomp the Yard' is cementing itself in the IMDB Bottom 100 but it has still made 3 times its (smallish) production budget in 3 weeks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      Flushed Away didn't have that 'Wallace and Gromit' feel to it that even Chicken Run had. The video, the audio, the plot... All of it -felt- different.

      Don't get me wrong. I love the movie and so did my entire family.

      But if you advertise something as 'from the creators of Wallace and Gromit' you've put an image into peoples' heads before they've even seen the movie. No matter how good it is, if it doesn't match that image, they'll be somewhat disappointed.

      Having said that, I think the real issue was that
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wylfing (144940)

      Apparently you are new to the field of Hollywood accounting. Surely after all the "expenses" have been deducted, Curse of the Were-rabbit will be shown to have lost $100 million or so.

    • 2006 was the year of the shitty CGI kid's movie, and Aardman gets the blame?

      That's a crock of weapons-grade bullshit if I've ever heard one.
    • According to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, Dreamworks actually reported a $25-million loss on Wallace & Gromit [latimes.com]. (If that link locks you out, the relevant quotes are in the next one.)

      Since I remembered Wallace & Gromit opening at #1 and staying in the top 5 for about a month, I did the same kind of math [hyperborea.org] you did, using IMDB figures. Even looking at the domestic figures, W&G pulled in $56 million -- that's $26 more than the movie's budget. I doubt they spent $50 million advertising a $30 mi

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