You wouldn’t think that a playful family comedy like Aardman Animation’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits would court much controversy, especially seeing as it won’t even be released for another two months. But one joke shown in the trailer, released last year, has already drawn enough criticism to prompt the studio to take action.

Aardman has agreed to change a scene showing a leper boat after objections from leprosy groups like Lepra Health in Action and the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), who were concerned that it could increase the stigma associated with the disease. Read more after the jump.

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You’d be forgiven for suffering from pirate fatigue after this year’s lackluster fourth entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but these delightful trailers for Aardman Animation’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits prove there’s still plenty of fun to be found on the high seas.

Directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt, the stop motion adventure follows an eager but misguided Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) as he competes for the Pirate of the Year Award — because, as he explains, “Every time I’ve entered, I’ve failed to win. So, I must have a really good chance this time.” Along the way, he and his similarly off-kilter crew (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell ToveyAshley Jensen, and a fish with a hat on it) encounter all manner of strange characters including lepers, stuffy scientists, an evil queen (Imelda Staunton), and at least one monkey butler. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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pirates!

Don’t count Aardman Animations out just yet. The Academy Award-winning British animation studio is probably best known for their stop-animation and claymation productions, particularly those featuring Wallace & Gromit. The studio most recently produced a series of features, including their first computer animated film, for DreamWorks Animation, but “creative differences” lead to a seperation. Aardman entered into a three year deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2007, but no films have seen public release.

Today Sony and Aardman announced a three year extension to their contract with promises that we might actually see some more movies this time around. Pirates! and Arthur Christmas are the two films next in the development pipeline. Details on both projects after the jump. I’m sure the successful release of LAIKA’s 3D stop-motion film Coraline helps the cause, proving that an interest in old style stop-motion exists. The growing popularity and profitability of 3D is also likely to help sell these films. And no, they haven’t yet been announced as 3D productions… but c’mon…
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