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The Long And Short Of It
Just over 16 years ago, movie audiences were introduced to an eccentric, cheese-loving inventor named Wallace and his loyal canine companion, Gromit, in a clay-animated short titled "A Grand Day Out.” The short film comedy—which takes Wallace and Gromit to the moon and back in the quest for an unlimited supply of cheese—was the brainchild of a young stop-motion animator named Nick Park.

Six years in the making, "A Grand Day Out” had started as Park's graduate project when he was a student at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England. Midway in the production, he connected with Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who had already made a name for themselves in the field of stop-motion animation, under the Aardman Animations banner. Impressed with the work Park was doing, Lord and Sproxton invited him to bring his film to Aardman, where they could collaborate on multiple projects.

In 1990, "A Grand Day Out” was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Animated Short, competing with another Park creation, "Creature Comforts.” The latter took the Oscar® that year, but Wallace & Gromit would soon get their due. In 1994, Park's second Wallace & Gromit film, "The Wrong Trousers,” won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Short. Two years later, the Wallace & Gromit short "A Close Shave” brought Park back to the Oscar® podium to accept his third Academy Award® in the same category. All three Wallace & Gromit shorts also won BAFTA Awards.

With each new adventure, Wallace & Gromit built on their devoted fan following, which began in England and gradually spread around the globe. Now, for the first time ever, the inventive entrepreneur and his faithful, four-legged friend are headlining their first feature-length movie, "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”

"It's really a dream come true,” director, writer, producer Nick Park states. "Wallace & Gromit were my college creations, and it is quite something to think that they are starring in their first full-length feature film.”

"Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” marks the second collaboration between DreamWorks Animation and Aardman. The two companies had previously teamed on Aardman's first feature-length film, "Chicken Run,” which was an unqualified success. An unabashed fan of Aardman's work, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg notes, "I saw my first Wallace & Gromit short about 15 years ago and, like everyone else in the world, I was captivated by the characters. There is something wonderfully absurd and appealing about them. I think the charm of Wallace & Gromit comes from Aardman's unique style of animation. It's such a visual medium—it doesn't matter what language it's translated into; it's funny and delightful and witty.”

Producer Claire Jennings observes, "It seems, over a long period of time now, wherever Wallace & Gromit have gone, people have taken them into their hearts. People around the world love them. It will be interesting to see how a new generation takes to Wallace & Gromit.”

Producers David Sproxton and Peter Lord acknowledge that having a known commodity actually added to the pressure of expanding Wallace & Gromit's world. "In a way, ‘Chicken Run' was easier because it had entirely new characters,” says Sproxton. "Nobody knew anything about them, so we were free to show them in whatever light we saw them.”

Lord continues, "So many people know and love Wallace & Gromit…and, of course, there are also people out there in the world who have never seen them before. We knew we needed to tell a story for those people as well as for our loyal fans.”

To stay true to the history and traditions of Wallace & Gromit, Park, Lord and Sproxton assembled a creative team that has spent many hours in and around the animated duo's 62 West Wallaby Street address. H

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