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Aardman's CG Arthur Christmas gains cast

WallaceandGromit.jpgThe news that Aardman Animations is looking to CG is rather surprising since they pulled back from that direction and have been known for standing steadfast with their clay modelled films with Wallace and Gromit. However news comes that they are indeed developing a CG film, and what's more is that it'll be in 3D.

That does surprise me, but then you do have to wonder that without the established characters they have become famous for drawing audiences in time and time again, they have to take a gamble on something new, and perhaps that is following everyone else into the modern day medium, good or bad.

Of course as usual the film carries a strong cast with James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and Ashley Jensen all announced as joining the film entitled Arthur Christmas.

The story of Arthur Christmas will expose the technology behind the question of how Santa really does deliver all those presents in one night, and exposes the operations at the North Pole where his base of operations is.

The announcement comes through The Hollywood Reporter Heat Vision and goes like this:

McAvoy (Wanted) leads the cast as Arthur, the good-natured but clumsy younger son of Santa and the only one in his family still captivated by the magic of the holiday. Laurie (TV's House) will play Arthur's older brother Steve, heir to the operation and who has given the North Pole high-tech efficiency, military-style precision.

Broadbent (The Damned United) plays Santa, who pictures himself as the guy in charge at the North Pole, but is now more of a figurehead as the operation has outgrown him. Nighy (Love Actually) plays Santa's 136-year-old father, Grandsanta, a cranky old codger who hates the modern world, is always grumbling that Christmas 'was better when I was Santa' and has a tense relationship with Steve, who he calls 'A postman with a spaceship.'

Staunton will be playing Mrs Santa and Jensen Bryony, a low level elf who works in the giftwrap group.

Arthur Christmas does sound like a fun romp, but I think that Sarah Smith, the co-writer and co-director, Barry Cook, the co-director, and Peter Baynham, the co-writer, have a lot to live up to and this will be seen as a departure for Aardman who are known for their clay animated models, particularly Wallace and Gromit, and the stop motion photography style.

Of course you have to question if that is economical in this day and age and if they really can afford to keep taking so many years to produce one film. Perhaps CG is the way forward, but can they change the medium and keep the heart? DreamWorks were keen but it just didn't seem to work out did it, depsite films like Flushed Away?

Perhaps it can now, but does the change of partner in Sony change things any? Perhaps, perhaps it gives them the capability and the means to deliver high end CG films through their own creatives and creative process, rather than partnering with another complete film-making studio such as DreamWorks? Mind you saying that, the deal with Sony was announced three years ago, I wonder if it's coming to an end about now and we're seeing the products of that relationship?

We did hear about Arthur Christmas back in April 2009, and that came along with the announcement of a film based on the best-selling series of books by Gideon Defoe entitled Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com), in which we see a group of pirates that arrive in London and are chased down by an enemy who wants to wipe them out. There they also meet Charles Darwin and a talking chimpanzee called Mister Bobo. That film was going to be hand created stop motion, and so it would explain why we haven't heard much from that production so far. Perhaps the deal was one for Sony, one for Aardman.

Still on Arthur Christmas I'll keep an open mind, and I would have been fine with it just being CG, but 3D? I wonder if that's Sony's influence right there. At least we can watch it in 2D and we know that Aardman will deliver an enjoyable and funny script.



Quite interesting that they are seeking to take Wallace and Gromit in this direction. I can't say I blame them from a cost-savings perspective though.


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