Nick Park’s Next Animated Feature Is a Caveman Soccer Comedy

By  · Published on May 6th, 2015

DreamWorks Animation

It’s been 10 years since Nick Park gave us his last animated feature, the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit vehicle The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. While he’s done another Oscar-nominated Wallace and Gromit short (A Matter of Loaf and Death) and written and produced series and a movie (Shaun the Sheep), I’ve been anxious for him to deliver another theatrical effort of his own. From Cannes, ahead of the festival, we now get confirmed news that Park is working on a new movie about cavemen and the first ever soccer (football) match.

Titled Early Man (previously known as Early Man, Utd., or Early Man United or Dug), the stop-motion-animated comedy is said to not be totally focused on the sport, but that’s an important component and the movie is aiming for a World Cup-timed release in 2018. Cartoon Brew claims Manchester United will even endorse it.

Apparently this will be one of those very loose portrayals of prehistoric times (in addition to the idea that cavemen invented soccer), featuring humans and woolly mammoths and dinosaurs co-existing in the same era. Park previously made a film about a caveman and a dinosaur titled Murphy and Bongo when he was just 13 years old.

Unlike most of his past efforts, Early Man isn’t written or even co-scripted by Park, though he may have been a part of its conception or story development and that’s just not being reported. Mark Burton, who worked on Were-Rabbit, Loaf and Death and the Shaun the Sheep movie, and John O’Farrell, who co-wrote Chicken Run, which Park co-directed, are the only writers credited with the screenplay for now.

Park and his regular studio, Aardman Animations, is teaming up with Studiocanal, which is doing well with family films lately – they financed the surprisingly good Paddington and collaborated on Shaun the Sheep the Movie, which played Sundance and will finally hit US theaters in August.

Park Here’s a bit with Park’s iconic Wallace and Gromit characters and the sport:

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.