Aardman Reveals First Footage Of New ‘Wallace & Gromit’ Smart Gnome Character Norbot – Annecy Netflix Showcase

Aardman’s Nick Park and Merlin Crossingham debuted first footage of new Wallace & Gromit character, smart gnome Norbot, during a Next on Netflix showcase at the Annecy International Film Festival on Wednesday.

The co-directors took time away from production at the Aardman studio in Bristol of Wallace & Gromit: Vengeance Most Fowl to give an update on the movie to animation professionals and students at the French lakeside festival.

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The existence of a smart gnome character at the heart of the storyline was revealed some time ago, but it is the first time he has been shown to an audience on the big screen.

“Wallace and Gromit’s world has really got to a point where Wallace is just on a big inventing spree, and he decides that what Gromit really needs is another new invention, as if he didn’t already have enough inventions already, and he invents Norbot,” said Crossingham.

“Norbot is a nifty, odd-jobbing robot… he is very efficient, probably one of Wallace’s best inventions ever, ruthlessly efficient. And actually, what it does, is really upset Gromit, and gets right in the way. Walllace doesn’t really understand this. He thinks it’s the best thing ever. And things rapidly get out of control.”

In the extract revealed in the Next at Netflix showcase, Wallace introduces Gromit to his new invention. He pitches up on the lawn with a big crate while Gromit is peacefully gardening. One side of the crate crash’s down to reveal a mechanical gnome in traditional green and red garb.

No images have been made public as yet and photography and filming is strictly forbidden in the Annecy presentations, but the new character looks similar to the ceramic gnome featured in the first Wallace & Gromit feature, Curse of the Were Rabbit.

“He is clearly autonomous, which is fairly new for Wallace, and he’s very responsive and obliging. What we explore with Norbot is that technology is good, but who’s controlling it?,” commented Crossingham.

The co-directors also broached the fact that Ben Whitehead will be voicing Wallace in the new film, replacing the late Peter Sallis who was synonymous with the role.

“It was obviously very sad to lose Peter, who was such a gem, so unique, and really gave Wallace his character for so many years,” said Park. “We thought it was going to be a real task, but luckily, or fortunately, Ben Whitehead, who now voices Wallace has actually done it for quite a while now,” said Park.

“He was an understudy for Peter… He played a background character The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. One day we needed someone to read-in for Peter while we were recording, and Ben stepped. He did an excellent Wallace and he’s stuck ever since. He did jobs Peter didn’t want to do, like the video games. He’s had a very long and gradual sort of apprenticeship, working with Peter in the early days, and since on all the other projects. It feels like a perfect way to kind of replace such a legend.”

The Annecy Wallace & Gromit presentation came hot on the heels of the Next on Netflix: Animation showcase in L.A. last week, where first images for Wallace & Gromit: Vengeance Most Fowl, the title and voiceover cast where announced. A trailer also revealed the revival of villain Feathers McGraw.

Further Netflix animation titles showcased at Netflix’s Annecy presentation included Spellbound, The Twits, Twilight of the Gods and Asterix & Obelix: The Big Fight. The platform has also done separate breakout events for upcoming films and series That Christmas, Arcane and Big Mouth during the festival.

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