So, this is cool: Aardman founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who have animated Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, and Chicken Run among others, will pass on ownership of the studio to their employees.
As part of the move, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the majority of the company’s stock shares will be placed in a trust, which will hold them on behalf of all of the company’s employees; the two founders will continue to serve on an executive board of directors, who will answer to a board of trustees that will oversee the company on behalf of the majority shareholders, the employees themselves.
“We’ve spent so much time building this company up and being so profoundly attached to it. It’s not a business to us, it’s everything, it’s our statement to the world,” said Lord. “Having done that for so many years, the last thing we wanted to do was to just flog it off to someone.” Employee ownership, then, emerges as a viable means of maintaining a culture and ensuring that the company can retain its independence, led by the desires of its employees and not some corporate overlord.
I’m no expert on this field, but this isn’t a particular common way of running a studio, and it’ll be interesting to see how — or if — it changes the work Aardman produces. But it does mean the company will likely stay independent for a while yet.