Photo: Dave J Hogan (Getty Images)

In a move that we can’t help seeing as ironic—given how many poor factory workers the bumbling inventor has presumably put out of work over the years with his relentless, Rube Goldbergian drive toward automation—it seems that Wallace and Gromit (or at least the studio that makes their movies) now belong to the people. Specifically, the 300 or so people who work at British Aardman Animations, which has just announced that it’s transferring ownership of itself to its various employees, placing a majority of shares into a trust to be operated on their behalf.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, the decision comes down from owners and co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who say it’s intended to help Aardman—one of the largest independent animation studios on the planet—stay free of corporate entanglement, or from getting bought and becoming just another “asset that can be sold on in years to come.” The move is seen, at least in part, as a way for the company to continue on in its stop-motion idiosyncratic fashion after the pair finally leave, although they assured reporters they had no interest in retiring as of yet.

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The trust will be overseen by a new board of directors, including Nick Park, the Oscar-winning creator of both Wallace And Gromit and Shaun The Sheep, as well as co-director on Chicken Run, the studio’s most lucrative film to date.