Aardman Features, known for hits including Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run is in final negotiations to enter into a three-year, first-look deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The deal, announced today by Stephen Moore, COO of Aardman and Head of Aardman Features, Michael Lynton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment reflects SPE's commitment to expanding its animation and family features business. It will bring together Aardman's unique and hugely successful animation expertise and SPE's global production, marketing and distribution operation.

The Aardman pact also complements the strong slate of programming being created by Sony Pictures Animation, which last year debuted with Open Season and will soon release the highly anticipated CG feature "Surf's Up".

Commenting on the announcement, Pascal said, "We have been huge fans of Aardman films for a long time and this deal greatly expands Sony's commitment to animation in the worldwide marketplace. Aardman makes movies with lively humor, great stories, and fun distinctive visuals. They have boundless creative energy and a passion for animation that is hard to resist. We couldn't be more excited about working with the entire Aardman team."

Lynton said, "Aardman Features are enormously popular all over the world. We believe that their strength is their unique storytelling humor, sensibility and style and we plan to bring their distinctive animated voice to theaters for a long time to come. This is a tremendous coup for Sony Pictures Entertainment as we continue to expand into animation and we are thrilled that Nick Park, Peter Lord and David Sproxton have joined the Sony family."

Stephen Moore, COO of Aardman and Head of Aardman Features adds, "Over the past 18 months we have worked hard to create a new vision for Aardman Features. This includes an expanded development slate, increased production and plans to introduce new technical capabilities at our facility in Bristol. This agreement with Sony Pictures is very much at the heart of our new vision as they passionately support both Aardman's existing core creative values and enthusiastically support our creative ambitions for the future."

David Sproxton, Aardman co-founder and and Exectutive Chairman continues; "We know from experience that we create our best work when we do it from our home base here in Bristol, using first class talent from the nation and around the world. It is Aardman's intention to expand this community to produce more world class animated feature films. Pete, Nick and I are delighted to find a partner in Sony that shares our vision and believes in our core values, who will support and encourage us to produce our finest work. We are all very excited by the potential and have a number of projects we are keen to bring to fruition with this new relationship."