The future of Aardman Animations – and Wallace & Gromit – is uncertain as the studio is on the verge of running out of clay.
Since its founding in the early 1970s, the stop-motion studio has become world famous for creating the iconic Wallace and Gromit and much-loved 2000 film, Chicken Run.
Aardman differs from most other major animation studio because of its use of Lewis Newsplast to mould its characters.
This is a plasticine-like substance which is easy to mould but also keeps its shape under hot studio lights.
However, it was only made by one factory, and the Torquay-based manufacturer closed earlier this year.
Following the announcement of the closure, Aardman bought every block of Lewis Newsplast available, meaning the studio had enough for one more Wallace & Gromit film, the Telegraph reports.
Aardman has since released a statement reassuring fans that there is “absolutely no need to worry.”
The studio said it has “high levels of existing stocks of modelling clay to service current and future productions and, much like Wallace in his workshop, we have been tinkering away behind the scenes for quite some time with plans in place to ensure a smooth transition to new stocks to continue to make out iconic productions.”
The new film will be arriving in 2024, but unless a replacement material can be found that could be it for Aardman, Wallace and his canine companion.
There is another film to look forward to before then though. Next month will see the release of Chicken Run sequel, Dawn of the Nugget, on Netflix.
It will be Aardman’s ninth feature, with Chicken Run having been its first. To this day, the poultry-themed adventure comedy is the most successful stop-motion film ever made.
Stop-motion animation involves animators take one frame of film, before fractionally altering the plasticine and taking another frame. The process is a long one, and it usually takes creators an entire day to make just one second of film.
Speaking about what makes stop-motion so special, Dawn of the Nugget director Sam Fell said: “Every other kind of animation is ultimately about copying reality.
“It’s either drawings of things in the real world, or replicas in pixels and code. But here, the things we make actually do come to life.
“Even after so many years, it still feels like a strange kind of black magic.”
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget lands on Netflix in the UK on December 15.