Academy Award-winning animation studio
When it comes to stop-motion production, Aardman is in a league of its own. Using the time-consuming and laborious method of claymation, requiring bottomless patience and an astonishing attention to detail, Bristol-based Aardman has created universal classics for cinema and television alongside its work for broadcasters and advertisers.
Its style is quintessentially British but internationally appealing. “Our desire is to produce British animated films," says creative director Stephen Lord in this article. "The world audience have got American films coming out of their ears. We believe in a different voice, a different culture with different references and sense of humour, aimed at a global market but British.”
The company started in 1972 as a small outfit producing children’s shows for the BBC. Then came commissions for Channel 4. After that, the mould-breaking Peter Gabriel video for Sledgehammer in 1986.
Their first Academy Award came in 1990 for Creature Comforts. Then came the runaway successes of Wallace & Gromit. In 1993 The Wrong Trousers was released - Aardman's first 30 minute film. To worldwide acclamation and winning more than 30 awards, The Wrong Trousers has become one of the most successful animated films ever made.
In 2000, they collaborated with DreamWorks to produce the feature-length Chicken Run, which grossed more than $220m at the box office. In 2005, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit won Aardman its fourth Academy Award, for Best Animated Feature.
Every one of their films has grossed more than their budget. And look at the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, to go-to website for worldwide audience appreciation. To date, ten Academy Award nominations; four Oscars.
There are many reasons behind Aardman’s rise to international stardom in the world of studios. Storytelling genius. Understated warmth and wit. An obsessive attention to handmade detail. While sticking to its roots of claymation, Aardman’s characters and work extends into interactive experiences, theme parks, live shows and exhibitions. Its success has led to Bristol becoming a centre for other animation companies.
Founders Peter Lord and Dave Sproxton have transferred the ownership of the company to an employee trust. The sale is aimed at ensuring that Aardman remains independent. There had been approaches from big studios such as DreamWorks ”But we resisted because we’re fiercely independent and still are,” Lord told The Hollywood Reporter.