Monday, May 9, 2016

British Animation Bits: Another Look at 'Early Man', Locksmith Locks Deal

One long-running British studio moves ahead with their next, while another British studio is just getting warmed up...

Early Man is the next stop-motion animated film from the wonderful Aardman, which is about a caveman uniting his tribe to defeat a bigger enemy, and inadvertently invent soccer. (Not a spoiler since that was one of the very first things announced, so I'm sure there's more here than meets the eye.) Here's a better look at our main character Dug, who will be voiced by Eddie Redmayne, and his sidekick Hognob.

Not much more on the story has been revealed, but it's good to know that production is taking off soon. Its inked UK release date is January 26, 2018, it does not have a US distributor yet. Let's just hope they don't Shaun the Sheep this one. Anyways, the classic Aardman style is there but the designs are quite nice.

Over a year ago, a studio called Locksmith was established by Sarah Smith and Julia Lockhart. Who is Sarah Smith? Writer-director of (alongside Barry Cook) Aardman's CG holiday marvel Arthur Christmas. She also executive produced the studio's The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! Lockhart was a longtime producer at Aardman, since the late 90s actually. It's very cool to see two women starting an animation studio, despite some of the rather unfortunate things I've heard about Ms. Smith and how production on Arthur Christmas was something of a nightmare.

Locksmith will specialize in - you guessed it - CG family films, and now they have inked a deal with Paramount. Three projects are on the docket, one's close to production, and they intend to get the first one out by 2020.

Some words from Paramount CEO Brad Grey...

"We are delighted to be partnering with Elisabeth Murdoch and Locksmith Animation to develop an exciting series of new films. The unparalleled experience and talents of Elisabeth, Sarah and Julie will enrich our animation studio and further our commitment to creating world-class entertainment for audiences of all ages around the world."

And some words from Smith herself... 

"We are delighted Paramount has responded with enthusiasm to our ambitious and original slate of films, and will go forward to take them to a global audience."

Aaaand some words from Lockhart...

"This is a fantastic opportunity to build London as a world-class animation hub. Paramount has a wealth of experience and expertise in distributing animated features and we are thrilled to partner in this venture."

It's good to see the British animation industry getting another player, and I look forward to seeing what's cooking there. Smith may have been a very rough director to work with (maybe true, maybe not), but her, Cook, and the whole crew turned out a great film with Arthur Christmas, which I'd argue is one of the best big animated films of the last 5 years or so, and one of the best holiday films out there. Maybe her experiences as a director on that picture have bettered her? Who knows. Lockhart herself has quite the producing resume, too.

This move is also good for Paramount Animation, as they can beef up their slate a bit. They've got their Nickelodeon stuff (SpongeBob 3), original stuff (Monster Trucks, Amusement Parks), Ilion, other stuff like Sherlock Gnomes, now this.

What do you make of this news?


  1. I love Aardman they are sooo bristish with amazing british humor that i freacking love

  2. Its just me or they add big eyebrows to Dug?? because in the poster that came a year ago he doesnt have them but on the new image he does.

  3. My favorite Aardman Animation movie is Chicken Run!