Animated films have always been a popular choice for cinema-goers of all ages, especially stop-motion animated films.
While in the past the rate of cinematic releases for stop-motion films has been slow but steady (on account of how time-consuming they are to make), there has in recent years been a surge in the number of these types of releases, with Aardman’s Early Man, and Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs arriving within weeks of each other earlier this year.
Continuing the trend, there is an exciting spread of even more stop-motion films coming soon to keep us all entertained. These include offerings from already established studios including Aardman who have two claymation sequels lined up: Shaun the Sheep 2, and Chicken Run 2, and Laika who have given us an early tease of their new film Missing Link, to more independent studio offerings like Annimortal’s Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires, and Telegael’s Captain Morten and the Spider Queen: Irelands first feature length stop-motion.
Why is this trend of stop-frame feature films so prevalent at the moment? There is no definitive answer, although lots of smaller contributing factors can account for their popularity. General audiences in recent years have experienced ‘CGI fatigue’ that is, the over-abundance of offerings from studios such as Dreamworks, Disney, and Pixar featuring computer animated characters and environments. Audiences tired of watching the overtly crisp and clinical computer generated images have a tendency to delight more in the hand-made offerings mentioned earlier – embracing the look and feel of textures and animated performances which are rendered entirely for real in front of a lens, as opposed to a cluster of pixels. While not to say that computer animated films cannot be excellent in their own right, the sheer quantity of them which bombarded the cinemas a few years ago may have been enough to make audiences seek visual spectacle in more traditional mediums.
Aardman’s mass appeal and back-catalogue of already successful family friendly stop-motion features has established that audiences want to see more from their favourite characters. While the upcoming Shaun the Sheep 2 is a sequel which follows its predecessor by only three years, their untitled Chicken Run sequel (with a tentative release date of 2020) sees a massive twenty year gap since the first film. These two films then represent the appeal of sequels to a diverse audience range. While the Shaun the Sheep sequel embraces the momentum of the franchise while it is relatively fresh in people’s minds (helped in part by the television series and range of merchandise), the sequel to Chicken Run will play on audiences’ nostalgia for the original – giving the now-adults a chance to revisit the characters they saw on-screen twenty years ago as a child.
Laika continue the success of their previous stop-motion feature films (Coraline, Paranorman, Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings), with the announcement of their next film, Missing Link. The marketing for their previous instalments has focussed on the hand-crated aspect of their productions, often showing behind-the-scenes processes in the build up to release. Again, this focus on artistry and craft really helps engage potential audiences who can appreciate the work involved in this method of production.
Chuck Steel and Captain Morten are arriving from less well known studios – indeed it will be the first cinematic feature release for both, Annimortal and Telegael respectively. While their upcoming success at the box office is hard to predict, it is encouraging to see offerings being made by more independent studios with lower budgets – as this often paves the way for more to come.
It seems that the popularity of stop-motion with audiences has never been as high as it has been these past few years, and the exciting roster of films to come from a diverse range of international studios suggests that this trend will continue for many years to come.
Looking for a career in animation? Then read How to get a job in animation[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]