Chicken Run is a 2000 stop motion animated comedy film produced by the British studio Aardman Animations in partnership with American studio DreamWorks Animation. The studio's first feature-length film, it was directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park from a screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick and story by Lord and Park. The film stars the voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Tony Haygarth, Miranda Richardson, Phil Daniels, Lynn Ferguson, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, and Benjamin Whitrow. The plot centres on a band of chickens who see a rooster named Rocky as their only hope to escape the farm when their owners prepare to turn them into chicken pies.
Chicken Run grossed over $224 million, becoming the highest-grossing stop motion animated film in history. A sequel, Chicken Run 2, is currently in development.
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The chickens live in a farm run by the Tweedys. They try to escape, but are always caught. Frustrated at the minuscule profits that the farm generates, Mrs. Tweedy conceives an idea of converting the farm into automated production and having a pie machine in the barn in order to turn the chickens into pies. One day, Ginger, the leader of the chickens, observes a rooster named Rocky crash-landing into the farm after being shot from a circus cannon. Ginger and the chickens hide him from the Tweedys. Ginger, interested in Rocky's flying abilities, begs him to help teach her and the chickens to fly. Rocky gives them training lessons in the meantime while Mr. Tweedy builds the pie machine. Later, Rocky holds a party and Ginger insists he show them to fly the next day, but Mr. Tweedy finishes making the pie machine and puts Ginger in it for a test run. Rocky saves Ginger, giving them time to warn the others of the Tweedys' plan to make them into pies and only a short time for their escape.
The next day, Ginger finds Rocky has fled, leaving behind part of a poster that shows him to be a stunt rooster, shot out of a cannon from a circus and unable to fly himself, depressing Ginger and the others. Fowler the rooster tries to cheer them by telling stories of the RAF(Royal Air Force), leading Ginger the idea of creating a plane to flee from the farm. The chickens assemble parts for the plane as Mrs. Tweedy insists Mr. Tweedy gather all the chickens to put into the machine, but when he comes in, the chickens attack Mr. Tweedy, leaving him bound and gagged, which is uncalled for, as they finish the plane. Rocky returns and joins them, but while taking off, Mrs. Tweedy chases them and climbs up a strand while Ginger races to sever it, managing to cut the strand, sending Mrs. Tweedy into the pie machine, which causes it to explode. The chickens continue their flight to freedom, and find an island where they enjoy their freedom, and Ginger and Rocky start a relationship.
- Julia Sawalha as Ginger, a hen who is determined to save her fellow chickens from their impending doom on the Tweedys' farm. She is usually the one that comes up with ideas and is generally more intelligent than the other chickens.
- Mel Gibson as Rocky, a laid-back American circus rooster who crash-lands on the farm and teaches the chickens to fly at Ginger's request.
- Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Tweedy, a greedy and cantankerous lady who decides to convert her farm into a chicken pot pie factory solely for monetary reasons.
- Tony Haygarth as Mr. Tweedy, Mrs. Tweedy's oafish, henpecked husband. Despite his unintelligence, he is cruel to the chickens and more suspicious than his wife of their escape plans, and he correctly identifies Ginger as their leader.
- Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler, a feisty elderly rooster who regularly prattles about his Royal Air Force experiences.
- Timothy Spall as Nick, a cynical, portly rat who smuggles contraband into the compound.
- Phil Daniels as Fetcher, a rat who is Nick's slim, slow-witted partner.
- Jane Horrocks as Babs, the fattest of the chickens. She is a stout hen with a dim-witted innocence and a love of knitting.
- Imelda Staunton as Bunty, the champion egg-layer and group cynic who is the most skeptical of Ginger's escape plans.
- Lynn Ferguson as Mac, Ginger's genius Scottish assistant.
Chicken Run was Aardman's first feature-length production, which would be executive produced by Jake Eberts. Nick Park and Peter Lord, who run 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.
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 "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.
- Rated G (General Audience) with Contains mild language, violence and threat.
- Suggested Running Times: 84 Minutes (NTSC), 81 Minutes (PAL).