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Feature Film

“Arthur Christmas” trailer

This looks exciting–Arthur Christmas, arriving December 2011 from Aardman Animations and Sony Animation. Here’s our first glimpse:

<a href=";brand=v5%5E544x306&amp;from=sp&amp;vid=78b0bed5-c9c2-43f0-a0b9-54a016bedd1a" target="_new" title="Exclusive Arthur Christmas trailer">Video: Exclusive Arthur Christmas trailer</a>
  • Steven M.

    I’m not liking this too much. It’s very un-“Aardman”-ish.

    • You’re not “liking” it so far? or your understanding of English is so poor that you really mean to say you don’t “like” it, but you don’t know how? And how can you even begin to say you like or dislike a film you’ve never even seen? And don’t you mean that the clip is very un-“Aardman”-LIKE, not-ish? Aardman has constantly evolving styles, approaches, and ways of creating animation that you are clearly unaware of.
      It is suggested that you go back to school and this time, actually pay attention. That is, study.

      • Wow, calm down. Most of that was pretty unnecessary.

      • agreed,the new Cartoon Brew needs a “calm down” application.
        by which if you press it that person gets automaticaly thrown a bucket of water on top of his head ,or her head…(I hate that you cannot be gender specific in english sometimes)

      • Chris Webb

        Using English effectively is always necessary.

      • for someone calling themselves ‘mr. goofer’ you sure are quick to jump down someone’s throat for small mistakes. what do you mean ‘it is suggested that you go back to school’? you mean, YOU’RE not suggesting it, but it is being suggested in an administrative sense? maybe you should call yourself ‘mr. asshole’. and specify a real website as your own next time, Mr. A.

      • JimmyTimmy

        I’m not liking this too much either.

      • I very much disliked the way the animation looked and Mr. Goofer’s unnecessary comment. (But I will admit, the writing was pretty humorous.) Just because someone made a spelling mistake doesn’t mean you have to be a complete twat about it.

    • Maxie

      The truth is, Aardman can do anything. Just look at their commercials.

  • I wasn’t impressed until the giant UFO sleigh showed up.

    I felt like I’d seen about every single cartoon Santa interpretation done to death until that huge UFO sleigh zoomed in. Can’t. Wait.

    A few questions however…Aardman was working with Dreamworks up until Flushed Away right? When did they start a partnership with Sony? Does anyone know?
    Is it a one movie deal or something more long term? The last I had seen of Aardman was A Matter of Loaf and Death…and the style here is not really Nick Parkish so how is Aardman studios involved? It looks 3d and that’s strange territory for the studio (outside of Flushed away). Correct me if I’m wrong.

    And last…am I the only one who thinks Arthur looks oddly like Linguine from Ratatouille?

  • I have to agree with Steven M. This looks awful.

  • Puzzling why Aardman would move away from their signature style, which goes over quite well, to go in a more “generic CG” looking direction. Presumably that’s Sony’s influence.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      One could argue with that. Certainly the direction Aardman has taken in recent years have seem to have strayed from that signature approach they’ve had going for a long time.

  • Chris Sokalofsky

    The only gripe I have is that the facial acting and the voice of the elf is not even close. The voice is extremely expressive, with a lot of great bits that leave a lot of opportunity for great animation. Instead, we get a rather deadpanned and frozen face that looks really off when they’re put together. The bottom line is that they don’t fit.

    • they are in the snow. that would explain the frozen face acting?

  • doop

    I hope the animation is a bit less stiff in the actual feature..

  • Whoever thinks this isn’t aardman like has been living a life of lies! Don’t just assume because they’re releasing a trailer to a movie that’s going to be released in A YEAR to be the final product! As for the UFO, does anybody remember a little short called “A Grand Day Out?” For what I recall, Aardman has been known to take simple ideas and pull a 180 on everybody’s expectations (ex: A small suburban man and his dog go to the moon in a homemade rocket to get cheese). So before anybody gets their panties in a bunch, take a deep breath, wait till christmas of next year and watch the movie (key point: WATCH the movie, don’t just IMDB it or watch all the clips and promotional work); then you can make your judgements!

  • I think it looks pretty funny and original in its concept. I don’t think Aardman changing their visual style is such a big deal. I’m pretty sure they’ll use their usual look in other productions. Arthur looks nice, the elf looks more generic but he’s ok.

  • aardfan


    Rumor has it Dreamworks kind of commandeered Flushed Away and took it in their own direction without the total approval of the Aardman folks, leaving them very dissatisfied with that relationship. In the wake of that film, Aardman signed a deal with Sony Animation who would allow Aardman to maintain complete control over the direction of the films.


    I’m confident Aardman will always continue to develop works in their signature style. But it seems they have stories they’d like to tell that don’t use the traditional stylization and are better suited for the medium of CG. I think it shows a great depth for the company to embrace whatever medium they feel will best compliment the story they’re trying to tell. My guess is that when we SEE Arthur Christmas it will be obvious why they chose CG.

  • aardfan


    Here’s an article from a while back detailing the Aardman/Sony deal:

  • @Aardfan

    Thanks! This is exactly what I wanted to know!

  • Toonio

    Go Aardman! They truly know how to give things a twist.

  • aardfan


    No problem! You probably saw the link to the other article detailing some of the alleged tensions between the two companies:

    As far as I’m aware Aardman will be in complete control of the design, direction and story of anything they do with Sony. So everyone can trust that this will be true to Aardman’s aesthetic and comedic sensibilities with Sony simply using their expertise to facilitate Aardman’s vision. And for those of you that might freak out for fear that Aardman is “dumping” stop-motion for cg, fear not! They’re also doing some more traditional stylized/claymation flicks with Sony (“Pirates”), and I think you can rest assured they always will.

  • Jeffers

    When I read the title of the post I thought it was going to be the PBS show “Arthur”. I’m not sure if it would have been better or worse had it been.

  • The story seems to turn on a conceit that Santa, Arthur and the elves are real, but for some reason don’t want anyone to know that they are real. I’m not one to count Aardman out, but story-wise, since when does Santa NOT want people to believe in him? Sorry to say I don’t get it.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Well it’s a teaser, and the way they structured this, I kinda assume it’s meant to be a spoof of a documentary being shot at the North Pole only to have this situation going on with the elf, Arthur and Santa’s UFO.

  • Lyle

    lookin awesome!! Sony and Aardman has to be a good combo

  • Im tired of santa movies. Fred clause was awesome though :)

  • If you’ve ever seen the amazing short The Pearce Sisters, you’ll know that there is far more to Aardman than the stop motion “Aardman look” that you remember. They produce great stuff in a variety of styles.

    The concept of this trailer made me chuckle, and I couldn’t help wondering if this was some sort of subtle jibe at film studios that “don’t” want to talk about their upcoming projects. “No, we’re not working on Film X…we just hired 100+ SFX artists to flesh out ideas…but here’s a leaked clip.”

    This looks like a fun movie! I think I’ll be taking our little man to see it when it comes out.

  • Was my fgace red..

    Yes Aardman is a studio of many directors and styles, although Nick Park is their cash cow, so much that the Flushed Away chaaracters were given Nick Park mouths even though he had nothing to with it. But they do all kinds of other stuff in different media, as a little internet dig would reveal.

    For something very different do check out ‘The Pearce Sisters’, for something in clay but odd ‘Rex The Runt’ and something a lot like Wallace and Gromit ‘Sean The Sheep.’
    There’s a very eclectic range of ads too.

    This is a teaser trail like the Pixar ones, and perhaps a little half baked and imprecise, but do wait until you’ve seen a little bit more before denouncing it – oh no, wait, this is Cartoon Brew…

  • Darkblader

    This looks like a bit of a rental, and the designs dont even look like Aardman look. Anyone know if they are still doing turtle and the hare as a stop-motion film?

    • The production of Turtle and Hair was cancelled.
      It was really around this time that the partnership ended.

      • Was my face red

        Turtle and Hare had the plugged pulled on it by Katzenberger who didn’t like it’s quirky non-Hollywood approach..which upset a lot of people at Aards. The Dreamworks realationship continued for a year or two until dying a mutual death with the very transatlantic feeling Flushed Away. Sony is a new deal, sees a stop motion film in production too and alledgedly will have less content interference.

  • Aardman has been around for more than 20 years and have done a variety of styles. But since Nick Park brought Wallace & Grommit to them, they began to use his visual “style” for a while.
    So, why can’t they go back and do different styles no more? Let them do their Santa movie the way they want to do it.
    By the way, the elf is definitely quite stiff.

  • Looks fantastic! Any chance I have to see the character design work of H.B.Lewis is a treat. Can’t wait.

  • What Aardman are doing here is bring their humble, charming (and often stereotypical) ‘britishness’ together with Sony Animation’s wider commercial appeal.
    Giving it the “Animated Feature” factor.
    I’m English and I just wanted to know (as most here are american) what do americans think of Santa’s son being English also?

    • Mark Walton

      Why not(Santa’s son being English)? If Santa is make believe he can be any nationality you want. Everyone sounds funnier/classier/scarier/better with an English accent anyway.

  • In all likelihood, the 3-D Bandwagon will be on it’s way out by 2011.

  • Was my face red

    This is interesting and surprising, a quick Google reveals that the director is the guy who did Mulan. That IS a big change for Aardman!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      So they brought in some American blood now? :-)

    • BeepBeepBoopBoop

      Not to burst your bubble, but Barry Cook has been removed from the project. Only a single director now, Sarah Smith:

      • Was My Face Red

        And her directing credits are jsut a few live action TV comedy shows!

  • Ama

    i thought the concept was really really cute! i love how goofy the son is, ehm, the elf was alright. it looks like something very goofy and warm for the holidays. other than the minor gripes, it looks a bit promising, cant wait to see more!

  • Jon

    It’s a good teaser, considering the film’s a year away from release. I imagine a trailer with actual footage will be released in the summer,

    I’m surprised Sony has been so patient given that they struck the deal back in 2007 but I think they are confident with Aardman as they moved the release date of Pirates! from September 2012 to April 2012.

  • w

    There’s some more background on ‘Arthur Christmas’ in this interview with Sony board artist Kris Pearn, 3/4 of the way down the page. I think it could be a fun film, actually:

  • Hooray, new Aardman!

  • Mark Walton

    The execution (animation, acting, writing) could have been better (these teasers are often made with whatever people they can spare from production,on zero budgets and under enormous time pressure, and often don’t reflect the quality, or even necessarily the look, of the finished film) but the way the trailer reveals the plot is really clever, and the general concept looks hilarious to me! Why WOULDN’T Santa’s elves want to keep their operation a secret, since they’re supposed to do their work unobserved by human eyes? The little guys would be vulnerable up there in the North Pole! Totally fits an “area 51” scenario – lots of people believe in it with no solid proof it exists – they’re doing vital work of global importance that must be kept “secret” to maintain security and to avoid outside interference and general panic! Makes more sense than having Santa wanting to prove his existence to everyone but never allowing himself to be seen.
    I’m really looking forward to this – it looks different enough from other Santa movies and feels fresh and fun.

    • I applaud your excellent grasp of the skeleton crew setting used in creating these teasers! Seriously, at least someone gets it. No sleep was harmed in the creation of this teaser, that I know for sure… ;)

  • Scarabim

    This looks great to me. A possible antidote to The Polar Express ;) Anyway, it’s been awhile since a Christmas-themed movie hit theaters. I’m definitely checking this out.

  • He talks like Dr. Tran.

  • mrT

    Great heads up, but what a letdown! I’m definitely not liking this so far. In fact, I’ll go further and say I find it unappealing in the extreme. Maybe that’s a harsh statement but I have come to expect great things from Aardman Studios. They aren’t outsourcing their animation by any chance?
    As for Mr Goofer – try some anger management!