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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
Oscars get animated
Chicken Run
Chicken Run has proved a success in the US and the UK
An Oscar for feature-length animations is to be established for the first time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced.

The new category, the first for almost 20 years, will cover animated features of more than 70 minutes, giving Disney films and the feature film work of Nick Park, who made Chicken Run, the chance of Oscar success.

Oscar
Nick Park has won three Oscars for his Wallace and Gromit series

The first Oscar for animation is likely to be presented at the Academy Awards ceremony in March 2002.

But the award will only be handed out when eight or more eligible films are released a year, which could be mean the statuette for animation is seen rarely.

Studios in the United States have released an average of only seven animated features each year since 1989, according to Exhibitor Relations, which monitors American box office trends.

"Animators have been lobbying for an Oscar for animated features for about three years," said John Pavlik, spokesman for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

"After a lot of discussion and some initial concern that the field was large enough for a horse race, it became obvious that there's life in them thar' drawings," Pavlik added.

Snow White
Snow White was given a special Oscar in 1938

The decision is good news for animators who have worked hard to get recognition for their work.

Arthur Sheriff, spokesman for Aardman Animation, which made Chicken Run, told BBC News Online: "The feeling from animators is extremely good.

"It is something we have been quietly campaigning for for the last three or four years."

Aardman has already won three Oscars for its short animated features in the Wallace and Gromit series.

He added: "It is a tragedy that Toy Story 2 didn't win an Oscar."

Aardman Animation, which is developing further feature films, won't have a project ready in time for the 2002 Oscars ceremony.

Animated films have until now competed in the short film category, or have had to battle with major movies in the prestigious best picture slot.

Beauty and the Beast is the only feature-length animation, ever to be nominated for Best Film.

In 1938 Disney's Snow White was awarded an honorary Oscar.

The success of movies like Toy Story 2, the 16th biggest US box office hit of all time, and the enduring success of Disney movies, have prompted the decision.

The last time a new Academy Awards was established was 19 years ago for makeup, as well as the honorary Gordon E Sawyer prize for a career of technological contributions.

See also:

28 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
American Beauty's Oscar triumph
23 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Chicken Run sets US flapping
17 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
Academy Awards A-Z
26 Apr 00 | Wales
Animated film heads US ratings
17 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
Cooking up an Oscar
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