Cast * Interesting Facts
Directed by: Peter Lord, Nick Park &
Written by: Karey Kirkpatrick & Jack Rosenthal
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Production Start Date: February 2001
Released on: 2006 (pushed back from Christmas 2003 then Summer 2004)
Budget: $40 million
Box-Office: $ in the U.S., $ million worldwide
CAST (Being Reconsidered)
Maurice the Tortoise... Lee Evans (replacing Michael
The Hare... Paul Whitehouse
Taffy the Welsh Hamster... Bob Hoskins
Michael Caine's involvement in this project was officially announced in late August 2000 -when he had completed the recording sessions project! An insider revealed: "He's just finished doing it. The voices are always recorded before the animation so they can get the mouth movements in synch. When Caine was offered it, he jumped at the chance. He's a big fan of Nick Park's." The acclaimed Oscar winner actually had to raise his voice a few octaves to play the 26-year-old toroise, making the movie a real challenge.
Though Michael Caine had recorded his lines, a seventh rewrite in Spring 2001 required him to do his work over again; as he was not going to be able to stay on the project, Aardman had a replacement lined up for him: British comedian Lee Evans.
Richard Goleszowski is the director of the Rex the Runt series.
Walt Disney made a nine-minute short version of this story in 1935.
During a BBC Chat on July 1, 2000, Nick Park revealed that this film, based on the famous Aesop fable about an inter-species marathon, is a "mockumentary" comparable to This is Spinal Tap (a pseudo-documentary) and Rocky (an underdog sports movie)! The movie will focus on the two characters, show them growing up, introduce their friends and generally round out the life of these two iconic characters.
The design of the characters is going to be very different from that of Chicken Run: no big wide mouths, or eyes close together.
The Bristol-based UK animation studio Aardman Animations announced on July 3, 2001 that it laid off 90 of the 170-strong crew after they revealed that the script for their upcoming claymation feature The Tortoise and the Hare was not up to scratch and as a result has to undergo another six months of development. A spokesman added that it hoped to re-hire them when production resumed and commented: "We are devastated. This has never happened within Aardman before and it's a shock to us all. We would rather put the film on hold for six months and sort it out than produce an average film. Aardman have such high quality control that they will not allow a film to go forward that's not as good as our last movie if not better. We hope that in less than six months every one of those people will be back employed". Pre-production costs on the film is already at $40 million.
The film was originally scheduled for Summer 2003 but now is coming in Summer 2004. Word has it that Nick is now fast tracking the Wallace and Gromit feature with the likelihood that Tortoise may just fade away into the ether. A source close to the production even told Ain't It Cool News, "It's meltdown time. [There are] serious script issues." The insider called it "an unholy mess of a film," and said, "it's amazing that it got as far as it did."
In August 9, 2001, Aardman Animations appointed Rob Sprackling and John Smith, two of the UK’s hottest script talents, to write the next draft of the movie. Sprackling and Smith have credits on Hallmark Entertainment’s forthcoming Mike Bassett: England Manager, which is directed by Steve Barron, and wrote a speculative draft of Romeo & Juliette that has since been taken on by Elton John’s Rocket Pictures. Sprackling also directed the 1998 short The Green Monkey. The pair are expected to sign a contract with Aardman later this week. "They have both live action and animation experience which makes them ideal for us. And they share the Aardman sense of humour," said Michael Rose, Aardman executive producer of feature films. "DreamWorks obviously approved the decision, but this was our call. [Sprackling and Smith] are a team we have been tracking for a while. Either they were too busy or the time was not right." Though 6 months behind schedule, the movie is now slated for a Christmas 2003 release.
The movie's official title was changed from The Tortoise and the Hare to Tortoise vs. Hare over the summer of 2001.
Variety commented in November 2001 that this will be a "summer 2003 animated feature," suggesting the widely expected release date is wrong.
The Hollywood Reporter announced on June 11, 2002 that Tortoise and the Hare "failed to cross the finish line after script troubles," and that DreamWorks Pictures and Aardman are "giving it another go, this time with the claymation comedy Flushed Away." Does this mean the project is cancelled? No official release confirmed this clearly yet.
However, 6 weeks later, on July 24, 2002, a spokesman for Aardman Animations revealed that work was continuing on the script for Tortoise vs. Hare, which is now expected to have CG animation augmenting its stop-motion work. "Preproduction on the project was suspended a year ago so that more work could be done on the screenplay."
Nick Park revealed in October 2002 that the feature is"actually gone back into development, and it's now amonst two or three films we're developing. It will happen eventually." But don't get too excited about Michael Caine or Bob Hoskins' involvement. "The voices are all being reconsidered."
British comedian Lee Evans revealed in an October 2002 that he had been recording the voiceover for the character of the tortoise: "It's freaky seeing your voice come out of a tortoise, I swear. As I talk to you now, my hands are waving my hands in the air, and I'm making expressions with my small monkey face, and they take those very small expressions you use naturally, you're not aware of, and they animate those expressions. And it's so freaky to see yourself and all your little mannerisms on a tortoise."
David Sproxton learnt a tough lesson when Tortoise stalled after
Aardman tried to rush it through only three months after Chicken
Run. By the time Aardman and DreamWorks pulled the plug, up to
eight minutes were shot of the $40 million production. "Because we were
working on Chicken Run, we weren't developing another one behind
it," Sproxton said in a February 2003 interview. "The biggest risk is going
to be after the first movie."