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The studio that brought us Wallace and Gromit will be giving their unique brand of animation and humour a sail across the high seas with The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists!

The new film from Aardman was released on March 28, 2012 in the UK and on April 27, 2012 in the USA.

The Pirate Captain, voiced buy Hugh Grany, sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals, Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz, for the Pirate of the year Award.

The quest takes the captain and his crew from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. 

Along the way the run into Charles Darwin,  voiced by David Tennant

The screenplay was written by Gideon Defoe, who writes the cult Pirates! graphic novels.

The story is based on his first two books The Pirates! in an Adventure With Scientists and The Pirates! in an Adventure With Whaling.

The budget for the film was $60,000,000!

Each puppet can cost anywhere from 6-14 thousand pounds and take up to three months to create.

Once they have each individual character each copy of that character still takes between 6-8 weeks to make.

Some other amazing facts are that the treasure room was filled with more than 400,000 gold coins; the pirate ship with its 44,569 parts; 220,000 props, including bottles, lamps and glasses made by a specialist glass blower for the film; and 1,364 puppet mouths for the captain alone.

For a full report on the UK premiere and all of David's interviews and press appearances click here.

The studio that brought us Wallace and Gromit will be giving their unique brand of animation and humour a sail across the high seas with The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists!

The new film from Aardman was released on March 28, 2012 in the UK and on April 27, 2012 in the USA.

The original UK release date was March 30th but it got pushed up to the 28th.

This is Aardman's first stop-motion film since Curse of the Were-Rabbit and their second collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation. 

The film was distributed by Columbia Pictures. 

Aardman had announced that they were going to make this film in a 2007 press release, which just shows the time involved in this type of film making.

The production took over five years from script development to completion and used the talents of 320 people and 41 sets.

The movie was directed by Aardman co-founder Peter Lord and co-directed by Jeff Newitt.

In traditional Aardman style the movie is done in stop-motion with miniature sets and jointed figurines with clay faces. 

There was some computer generated animation used primarily for the sea and the sky.

The 3D trailer for the film was screened at the 2011 Comic Con in San Diego, which makes this the first ever claymation 3D feature film.

K. Thor Jensen reviewed screening for - July 21, 2011:

"Lots of sight gags, many of which took advantage of 3D to add a little oomph. Peter Lord of Aardman came onstage and talked a bit about the film.

The plot is straight cliche, with a bumbling captain aided by the one sane man on the ship in the form of Martin Freeman. In his mission to become Pirate of the Year, the captain comes up against a homicidal Queen Victoria, who bears a serious hate-on for scurvy dogs.

The film appears genially wacky and should be a good family film, but we'll see how it performs."

For a detailed report of the Comic Con panel click here.

Peter Lord: "David Tennant gives an absolutely fabulous comic performance as Charles Darwin in the Pirates! Thanks David."

David was quoted on

“What a joy to be part of that. You feel a little bit of a cheat to take any credit for it, but really the stars of this film are the animators. What they can make a piece of plasticine is quite remarkable."

"The other day I did my last session on the film and they brought the little model of Darwin down so I have shaken hands with the plasticine me - which was strangely thrilling.


Click here for the trailers and here to read an article about the making of the film and to see an AWESOME behind the scenes look at the sets at Aardman Studios!    

Included in the movie's soundtrack is music from The Clash - London Calling, The Beat - Ranking Full Stop, Jimmy Cliff - You Can Get It If You Really Want It, Supergrass - Alright, Flight of the Conchords - Not Crying, The Pogues - Fiesta, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and Tenpole Tudor - The Swords of a Thousand Men!


A cool Doctor Who detail to look for came from Matt Sanders one of the film's art directors. 

He is a big Doctor Who fan and is a member of Galifrey Base forum

On March 29, 2012 he posted:

Hi guys - I was one of the Art Directors on The Pirates!, and I've included a little game for Doctor Who fans...

As a long-standing aficionado of the TARDIS's police box shell, I've sneaked some familiar six-paned windows into several of the sets. I think I did about half a dozen, though I don't know how many made it into the final edit...

Sooooo... (as a little easter-egg-hunt), when you see the film, keep a lookout for TARDIS windows, and let us know if you find them...

x Matt

One of the forums other members stated: "They'd better be the right size! "  

Matt's answer: They certainly weren't the right size - they were only a couple of inches wide!

However, the proportions were impeccable...

I was working at Aardman for this project, but used to build sets at Cod Steaks (including the Wallace & Gromit films) - and five years ago we had a licence to make TARDIS collector's models, so I think I know my windows....

x Matt 

The first one spotted!

I spotted the Tardis doors when the Captain and Darwin left the pub! 

Well-spotted! That's the pub where The Captain and Darwin go for a pint with Jane Austin and the Elephant Man...

Some TARDIS windows that "got away", were a skylight in the roof of Darwin's house - the Captain falls off a chimney stack, and through this skylight into a bath with the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate.

This window was made with six panes (a la TARDIS stylee), but during filming it was decided to adapt it to a four-pane version, so that's what you'll see in the film...

There are a few others there to spot though...

Also a nice bit about a cut scene!

There's a scene where the Pirate Captain pulls various items (including an umbrella) out of his beard - but in the earlier Animatic (a drawn cartoon storyboard version of the film, made to assist in production), the items he pulled out were:

A 500 Year Diary, a bag of jelly babies, and a stick of celery...

I don't know whether Gideon wrote that into the script, or if the storyboard artist added them - but clearly the directors were philistines, because they changed them to non-Who items. (Except


The film was nominated for a 2012 Golden Trailer Award for Most Original Trailer, the other nominees were Chronicle for the 'Camera' trailer, The Bourne Legacy, Haywire for the 'First Date' trailer and The Muppet Movie for 'The Pig with the Froggy Tattoo'. Chronicle won for the "Camera' trailer.

They were nominated in two other categories as well Best Animation/Family TV Spot, won by Puss in Boots and Best Animation/Family Poster, won by The Hunger Games.

The film was nominated for Best Animated Film by the European Film Awards in 2012, the other nominees were Wrinkles/Arrugas from Spain and Alois Nebel, a film from the Czech Republic which won the award.

The film received five nominations at the 2013 Annie Awards, which are given out by the International Animated Film Society, held on February 2, 2013 in Los Angeles. 

The nominations were Best Animated FeatureCharacter Animation in a Feature Production, Production Design in an Animated Feature Production, Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production, Imelda Stanton and Writing in an Animated Feature Production Gideon Defoe.

In 2013 the film's sound department was nominated for a Golden Reel Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors USA for Best Sound Editing - Sound Effects, Foley, Music, Dialogue and ADR Animation in a Feature Film. The awards were held on February 17, 2013 in Los Angels, CA.  The winner was Adventure Time: ":Card Wars" from The Cartoon Network.

The biggest accolade for the film was to be nominated for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  The Oscars were given out on February 24, 2013.  The other films nominated are Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman and Wreck-It-Ralph. The Oscar went to Pixar's Brave.


The film had a budget of $60,000,000 and grossed $31,051,126 in the US and the foreign take was $90,586,249  making the total gross $121,637,375

The film as in 3,358 theatres and took in $11,137,734 during it's opening weekend, ranking it in the number two slot for that weekend behind Think Like a Man which was in it's second week and actually beating The Hunger Games which was in it's sixth week.

The film closed in the US on August 5, 2012 having been out for 14.4 weeks, which is 101 days.

Opening weekend in the UK the film took $3,486,095 in 541 theatres and was 3rd behind The Hunger Games and Wrath of the Titans. 

The film was in UK theatres for 34 weeks and at it's peak, in week 3, was in 870 theatres and took in a total of $26,545,759.

"I'm so grateful to the entire cast for their talent and energy," said Aardman's Peter Lord, director of the film.  The characters that they've created fill the screen with life and fun."


Hugh Grant - Pirate Captain  
Brendan Gleeson - The Pirate with Gout
(look closely at his hat to spot a Blue Peter badge!)

Brian Blessed* - The Pirate King 
Lenny Henry - Peg-Leg Hastings
Salma Hayek - Cutlass Liz
David Tennant - Charles Darwin
Martin Freeman  - Pirate with Scarf 
Ashley Jensen** - The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate 

Imelda Staunton - Queen Victoria 
Russell Tovey*** - The Albino Pirate

Movies Official Websites: and

*appeared in the Virgin Radio Panto Cinderella with David.

**appeared with David on stage in his first professional stage play, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and appeared with David in the Hey Jude episode of his series Takin' Over The Asylum, on stage with him in King Lear and on the BBC Radio 4 play A Quick Change.

***plays Midshipman Alonso Frame in the Doctor Who episodes Voyage of the Damned and The End of Time.


One of the scenes in the trailers mentioned more than any other by reviews and bloggers had been the scene where the Pirate Captain lands on a boat where the seamen have to tell him they have no treasure because they are a leprosy ship and then one of them has their arm fall off.

Up until mid January 2012 the scene was mentioned as being one of the funniest in the trailer and Aardmen were being praised for their use of dark humor but not everyone was laughing.

Leprosy groups including Lepra Health In Action and the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP) objectedto the scene saying that it could increase the stigma and discrimination felt by people suffering from leprosy.

Aardman issued an official statement saying: “After reviewing the matter, we decided to change the scene out of respect and sensitivity for those who suffer from leprosy. The last thing anyone intended was to offend anyone and it is clear to us that the right way to proceed is to honor the efforts made by organizations like ILEP to educate the public about this disease.”


The US release of the DVD was on August 28, 2012.  DVD extras included a new Aardman short called So You Want to be a Pirate, DVD commentary by Director Peter Lord, Co-Director Jeff Newitt and Editor Justin Krish and "Mr. Bobo's Flash Card Challenge".  There were also printable activity pages for kids.

The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the film was also released the same day.  The DVD only release was region one but the combo pack was an all regions release.

In addition to the DVD extras listed above the Blu-ray also included a making of featurette called "From Stop to Motion" and "Creating the Bath Chase Sequence" featurette.   Also included with the set there is the "Pirates Disguise Dress-up" game and a code to download an Ultraviolet file of the film.  Last but not least you get two very early shorts by Peter Lord.

Lastly there was a 3 disc set that included the 3D Blu-ray, 2D Blu-ray and regular DVD, also released on August 28, 2012.

The UK, region 2, DVD release was on September 12, 2012.  There was also a Blu-ray and a 3D Blu-ray release as separate items, not packaged together like in the US.


So You Want to Be a Pirate! is an 18 minute short made just for the DVD release.  The Pirate Captain is the host of his own talk show which features an interview with Darwin, voiced by David Tennant, a cooking segment and even an PSA.

"Mr. Bobo's Flash Card Challenge" is a series of different word games.

"From Stop to Motion" is a 21 minute look at how the production was put together and includes footage from the voice recordings and interviews with cast and crew.  There is even some bonus animation included.

"Creating the Bath Chase Sequence" is a little over 8 minute long look at the making of this very challenging section of the film.

"Pirates Disguise Dress-up" is a memory game, you are shown a series of pirate body parts and then they are hidden and then against the timer you have to match them back up.

The two very early shorts by Peter Lord, Wat's Pig, about to brothers separated at birth and War Story, which takes place in WWII and is based on a real interview.

"No Dodo's were made extinct during the making of this film"

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