Why did it take 23 years? Unveil the extraordinary journey behind the ‘Chicken Run’ sequel. From overcoming sheer exhaustion to battling fire, floods, and a global pandemic, the creators share the epic challenges that led to the long-awaited arrival of ‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.’ In the words of director Sam Fell, ‘Weather, wind, pestilence, plagues — we survived it all.’
In the animated world, great things take time, but why did it take a whopping 23 years for the much-awaited ‘Chicken Run’ sequel, ‘Dawn of the Nugget,’ to hatch? Let’s dive into the fascinating journey behind the scenes, where the creators of Aardman Animations faced a marathon of challenges that tested their creativity and resilience.
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The Start: A Marathon and a Break
Back in 2000, when the original ‘Chicken Run‘ strutted onto the big screen, it was a hit. The quirky Claymation characters, Ginger and Rocky, became instant favorites. However, after the success, the creators, Aardman Animations and DreamWorks, decided to take a breather. Sequels weren’t as common then, and the exhaustive process of stop-motion animation left them feeling like they had just run a marathon. So, the idea of another film wasn’t on the immediate horizon.
Creative director Peter Lord compared the situation to a runner being asked to run another marathon right after finishing one. The exhaustion was real, and making a sequel wasn’t a priority. DreamWorks, the production partner, had initially agreed to five films with Aardman but shifted its focus to other projects, like a sequel to ‘Shrek,’ leaving ‘Chicken Run’ in the coop.
Obstacle 1: A Blaze of Unfortunate Events
As plans for the sequel started forming, tragedy struck. In Bristol, England, the warehouse containing all the ‘Chicken Run‘ puppets, molds, and sets caught fire. This setback meant they had to start from scratch. Director Sam Fell mentioned, “We didn’t have any reference apart from the making-of book — there were no puppets or anything to refer to.” Despite initial discouragement, this obstacle became an opportunity for even more creativity.
The first film mainly took place on a Yorkshire chicken farm, but the second one expanded its horizons with numerous intricate and colorful sets. Overcoming the fire led to a fresh and vibrant direction for ‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.’
Obstacle 2: Willy Wonka’s Studio
Just when things were getting back on track, the studio faced another challenge – flooding. Imagine Willy Wonka’s factory, but instead of chocolate, there was water everywhere. Director Sam Fell humorously described the situation, “The roof buckled in the heat of the hot summer, and then it just started raining like mad for three days.” The studio leaked, not just a little bit, but a lot. The team had to engineer a system of funnels to guide the water away from the sets. It was a true test of creativity and problem-solving.
Obstacle 3: The Curveball Named COVID-19
With the challenges of fire and floods navigated, the team geared up for the sequel, but then came the unexpected curveball – the global pandemic. Preproduction began in 2020, but COVID-19 brought everything to a screeching halt. Stop-motion animation is a collaborative process that thrives on people working together, and the pandemic made that nearly impossible. Director Peter Lord explained, “In Covid, you couldn’t do that. You had to bring everyone on the set one at a time.”
Even the clay characters faced their own quarantine. After a shot, crew members had to isolate the puppets for 10 days before touching them again. It added a unique layer of challenge to an already complex process.
Surviving the Rollercoaster – ‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget’
Despite these hurdles – fire, floods, and a global pandemic – the Aardman Studios team displayed incredible resilience. They revived the characters lost in the fire, braved the challenges of the pandemic, and brought ‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget’ to life. Darren Dubicki summed it up with a smile, “Weather, wind, pestilence, plagues — we survived it all.”
In the whimsical words of director Sam Fell, “Next one’s coming out in 2050.” The journey of creating the sequel was a rollercoaster of challenges, but the team’s determination prevailed, showcasing the remarkable world of stop-motion animation.
The 23-year saga of ‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget’ is not just a tale of chickens on an adventure; it’s a testament to the tenacity and creativity required to bring animated dreams to life.