Aardman Animations and Studiocanal are planning to produce a sequel to the Oscar-nominated 2015 children’s film Shaun The Sheep Movie, to be directed by the first film’s co-director Richard Starzak, Deadline reports. What’s not immediately apparent, though, is that this not merely a follow-up to a successful film, but an expansion of a 27-year-old complex expansive universe of short films, feature films, and TV shows known as the Aardmaniverse. The fact that you’re probably not even familiar with that term really just goes to show how little respect this umbrella of droll storytelling gets. Named for studio Aardman Animations, the shared universe is an ever-expanding outgrowth of British stop-motion animator Nick Park’s 1989 short films Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out (about a man and his dog) and Creature Comforts (in which human interview subjects are replaced with animated animals).
In his third Wallace & Gromit film, 1995’s A Close Shave, Park introduced the precocious young character Shaun The Sheep, who would go on to headline his own children’s TV series in 2007. That series begat both the series Timmy Time for younger kids, and the Oscar-nominated 2015 feature film Shaun The Sheep Movie. Meanwhile, Park continued making Creature Comfort and Wallace & Gromit films to much acclaim, while also churning out the 2000 escape comedy Chicken Run.
Wallace & Gromit and Shaun The Sheep, already linked by A Close Shave, crossed over with characters from Creature Comforts and Chicken Run in a 2012 advertisement for Google+, thus pulling all the major projects from Aardman Animations into one overarching narrative. There are many more tendrils to this nearly three-decade-old, award-winning, critically praised cinematic universe, in other words.
The important thing to remember is that this is not just another movie from Aardman, but another opportunity to plant seeds for future endeavors. Who knows what character introduced in Shaun The Sheep Movie 2 will take the universe in yet another new direction—perhaps into the cosmos or deep into the metaphysical.