Thursday, 17 February 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet: a pair of star-cross'd film industries

The world of animated features has seen quite a few UK/US co-productions in the last few years - Valiant, Corpse Bride, Flushed Away, Fantastic Mr. Fox and now Gnomeo & Juliet. Of course, all that really matters is that the crew from both countries involved do a good job - but those of us who are examining a specific country's animation are left with the fiddly task of finding out who did what. On the one hand we have Corpse Bride, generally thought of as an American film but actually animated at 3 Mills Studios in London; on the other we have Jan Svankmajer's Alice, listed by various websites as partially a UK production even though, as far as I can tell, British involvement was limited to funding from Channel 4.

And so, let's take a look at Gnomeo & Juliet. According to IMDB, the three production companies involved are Starz Animation, a US-based studio that also worked on The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything and Space Chimps; Touchstone; and Rocket Pictures, the British company launched by Elton John, who provided Gnomeo's soundtrack.

The film was directed by the Texan Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron). IMDB lists nine writers, aside from Willie Shakespeare: John R. Smith and Rob Sprackling (Captain Butler, Mike Bassett: Manager) apparently wrote the original screenplay, which was subsequently amended by Mark Burton (Spitting Image, 2DTV, Wallace and Gromit), Kevin Cecil (Little Britain, Black Books), Emily Cook (Ratatouille), Kathy Greenberg, (US/Canadian series The L Word, Ratatouille), Andy Riley (the Bunny Suicides books), Steve Hamilton Shaw (worked as a producer on a couple of other Rocket Pictures efforts) and director Asbury.

Voice talents include James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ozzy Osbourne, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Matt Lucas, Julie Waters, Richard Wilson and, erm, Hulk Hogan. So, it looks like Gnomeo & Juliet is the result of American direction, American animation, a largely British cast, a largely British writing crew, and Elton John's music (and moolah).

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