Aardman is one of the most critically acclaimed animation studios around -- second only to Pixar. DreamWorks was smart to lure them into a long-term deal but complete idiots to ask Aardman to stop making the 3-D stop-motion flicks they'd specialized in and make 2-D animated movies that -- in a final bit of absurdity -- mimicked the look of their earlier works. The result? The $90 million "Flushed Away," which grossed $167 million worldwide and was considered a flop. Now Aardman is walking away -- with DreamWorks locking the door behind them, just to make sure they don't come back.
Why would DreamWorks ever spend $90 million on an Aardman film? They make odd, eccentric, decidedly British films with a solid but not massive fanbase. Aardman made "Chicken Run" for $42 million (worldwide gross $227 million) and "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of The Were-Rabbit" for $30 million (worldwide gross $185 million). If they'd just let Aardman make the films they wanted to for under $50 million, the movies would have grossed $150 million worldwide -- at least -- and everyone would be happy.