Animators behind the hit duo Wallace And Gromit have signed a three-year deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).

Bristol-based Aardman was signed with Dreamworks, but its relationship ended in January this year.

For Sony the deal is set to complement the animated arm of the company, which debuted last year with the film Open Season.

"Aardman makes movies with lively humour, great stories, and fun distinctive visuals," said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of SPE.

"They have boundless creative energy and a passion for animation that is hard to resist. We couldn't be more excited about working with the entire Aardman team."

Michael Lynton, chief executive of SPE, added: "This is a tremendous coup for SPE as we continue to expand into animation and we are thrilled that Nick Park, Peter Lord and David Sproxton have joined the Sony family."

Mr Sproxton, co-founder of Aardman, expressed the company's determination to keep using British-based talent while engaging with others worldwide.

"We are all very excited by the potential and have a number of projects we are keen to bring to fruition with this new relationship," he said.

Aardman is responsible for films including Flushed Away, the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run.

02/04/2007 16:58:41