I don't know if you've caught Shaun the Sheep, the Aardman-animated spin-off of Wallace and Gromit that has been wowing anybody in England who watches TV in the afternoon (students, pensioners, the unemployed, children and me, who pretty much combines all of the above into one body) but it's often brilliant, laugh-out-loud stuff. Exciting, then, that Shaun is to get his own feature film.
Speaking to BBC Bristol, Aardman's Richard Goleszowski has revealed that writing for the film is already underway, and that they hope to have completed production for release in 2013 or '14. Here's how he pitched their plans:
My goal is to make a modern day silent movie starring Shaun. When we started writing the television series we stuck a picture of Buster Keaton on the studio door. I grew up watching slapstick films and some of the jokes have become embedded in my psyche.
I thought making him silent would make it cheaper and easier but it makes life more difficult. Telling a story through pictures means you can't cut corners. It's very cinematic and involved.
And when it works, very exciting and impressive – and, more often than not, it really does work, with Shaun. If they get the right plot, I'm sure the film will sustain an 80 minute or so running time with ease, if not longer.
There's already a TV spin-off, Timmy Time, which features the youngest sheep in Shaun's flock and is aimed at pre-schoolers – without actually being any less charming for adults. Aardman are also working on a series of 3D Shaun toons exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS and its European 3D video service.
Nothing in the BBC report gives any indication if the Shaun movie will be part of Aardman's deal with Sony or if they'll be going alone on this one. Nor is it clear if Mr. Golezowski will be directing the film, though I kind of hope he will, on the basis of his past work. Indeed, I'm still holding out hope for a return by Rex the Runt, one of his Aardman creations.