October 10, 2005

Wallace + Grommit Studio Fire

Aardman Studion Arson?

This morning, while the Aardman animation studios shoudl have been celebrating the fact that The New Wallace & Grommit Film was #1 at the box office, they're taking stock of a fire that burned down the arehouse that containged all of their past props, sets and characters.
The roof and three interior walls of the Aardman Animations building in Bristol, west England collapsed after the blaze tore through the Victorian building, fire officials said

The fire broke out at about 5:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), with flames reaching 100 feet into the air. The cause of the blaze was being investigated.

A spokesman for Aardman said the building housed props and sets from the company's history, including its first three "Wallace and Gromit" films.

No one was in the building when the fire broke out. Aardman said the sets and props from its latest film, "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," were not caught in the blaze.

Aardman has used stop-motion clay animation to create a series of acclaimed films, including three shorts featuring cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his resourceful dog Gromit.

The sets from those shorts -- "A Grand Day Out," "The Wrong Trousers" and "A Close Shave" -- are all thought to have been destroyed, along with those from "Chicken Run" -- Aardman's first feature-length release. (LINK)

Now call me crazy, but a devistating fire on the weekend of the studio's biggest success sounds a bit too much of a coincidence to me. I'm thinking it was arson. But who has the motive? Who would want to take out an animation studio? Melissa thinks I'm a nutter, but I think it was another Rival animation studio named Disney.

Disney courted Aardman Studios back in the 90's, but Nick Park et al kept saying "No thank you, we'd quite like to keep our creative control and merchandising rights." And when Katzenberg (leading the Disney wooing efforts) left the Mouse and started up Dreamworks SKG (where he's the K between Spielberg and Geffen), he finally offered Aardman complete creative control and they agreed to sign on.

Disney's been hurting for an animation hit, now that Pixar's jumped ship, so I'm thinking it was industrial espionage or at the very least, the actions of a far-right militant wing of European Disney fans. Michael Eisner just stepped down from his position as Chairman of Disney this past week. COINCIDENCE? Now that he's not tied to the company, the hit can't be tied back to him. Again, call me a conspiracy theory nut, but it just seems like too many coincidences.

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