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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‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ UK Trailer #2

Can you resist the grinning appeal of a new claymation animated film from Aardman Animation? I’m not certain that I can, if the first trailer for The Pirates! Band of Misfits is any indication. The film adapts Gideon Defoe‘s book The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists — a loopy tale of high-seas misadventure and scientfic discovery — with a vocal cast that includesHugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen.

Here’s a new UK trailer for the film, which bears the original subtitle ‘In an Adventure With Scientists,’ and pushes the overall story structure more than the last US trailer, but keeps the levels of charm and appeal as high as the crow’s nest. Read More »

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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Aardman Animation doesn’t just have the CGI holiday film Arthur Christmas to release in the next year. The company also has the stop-motion The Pirates! Band of Misfits, based in part on Gideon Defoe‘s book The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists. The cast was announced not long ago, and is a thing of beauty: Hugh ‘News of the World Killer’ Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen.

The trailer for the film hit today, and if you are (a) dissatisfied with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, (b) hungry for anything new from Aardman, (c) ready to see a weirdly appropriate use of a Ramones song in a kids’ pirate movie, or (d) all of the above, check it out after the break. Read More »

Sony and Aardman Animation have teamed for a new 3D stop-motion animated film, called The Pirates! Band of Misfits, based in part on Gideon Defoe‘s book The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists. (Which is also the film’s title in the UK, I believe.) That isn’t news, but the first still, above, and the announcement of the full cast definitely is.

Aardman co-founder and Chicken Run co-director Peter Lord is directing the film, which is animated in the now-classic Aardman clay figure style, and he’s got Hugh Grant making his clay debut as the chap you see above. There are a bunch of other great names on hand to provide voices as well, and you can get the full list after the break. Read More »

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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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