Thousands of dollars (pounds) worth of original artwork used in the animated movie The Snowman has been stolen from the film's production headquarters in London.

Thieves took at least 18 animation cells, worth $32,000 (GBP20,000), which showed scenes of the film's two main characters - the snowman and the young boy James.

And movie-maker's responsible for the 30-minute 1982 Christmas classic are devastated, not least because the art was to be part of a major exhibition later this year (03).

The film's producer, JOHN COATES, says, "These cells were some of the few remaining as most have been sold or perished in the 20 years since the film was made.

"They were due to be exhibited in Japan and Australia later this year and are of course irreplaceable.

"I am very saddened that these pieces will be lost to generations of people who love the film. These pictures have enormous personal and sentimental value to me."

31/08/2003 14:16