‘Chicken Run 2’: Mel Gibson Has Officially Been Replaced

One of the coolest things about animation is how — even after many years — a sequel can pick up immediately where the first film ended. For instance, Incredibles 2 picks up moments after its predecessor. Likewise, that appears to be the case for the upcoming Chicken Run 2. However, time has passed in the real world. Now Mel Gibson — who previously voiced John Smith in Disney’s Pocahontas — won’t be back for the Chicken Run sequel.

Peter Lord, Mel Gibson, and Nick Park pose in front of a ‘Chicken Run’ poster
Peter Lord, Mel Gibson, and Nick Park | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection

‘Chicken Run’ is Aardman’s biggest box office hit

Dreamworks Animation released Chicken Run in the summer of 2000. And that stop-motion animated movie — which follows a group of chickens’ escape plan from certain death — was more than a breakthrough for Aardman Animations. Aardman is best known as the home of Wallace and Gromit, who had a hit movie in 2005’s Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

However, Chicken Run remains the studio’s biggest commercial hit to date, even more than two decades later. The film earned $225 million worldwide against a $45 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. That total puts it ahead of the Wallace & Gromit title, 2006’s Flushed Away, and 2011’s Arthur Christmas. With its success, it’s less surprising that Chicken Run 2 is in the works than it is that it took Aardman so long to circle back for a sequel.

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Mel Gibson won’t be back for the upcoming sequel

Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, fans now know a lot more about Chicken Run 2. The film will be officially titled Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget and is indeed set shortly after the first movie. Sam Fell — co-director of Flushed Away — will helm the film, which sees the chickens leave their new home on a dangerous mission. Of course, the biggest shake-up about the movie is its voice cast, which replaces both leads of the original film.

Gibson voiced the rooster Rocky, but this time around, Zachary Levi (Shazam) steps into the role. Recasting could be a result of Gibson’s recent controversies. Still, Aardman claims otherwise. And to be fair, Julia Sawalha — who voiced Ginger in the original movie — isn’t returning either. In her place, Thandiwe Newton will play Ginger in Chicken Run 2. Given how much time has passed, Aardman might hope to position the movie as a bit of a reboot.

‘Chicken Run 2’ will release on Netflix in 2023

Chicken Run 2 will reportedly release directly to Netflix sometime in 2023. The film is part of an ongoing partnership between Aardman and the streaming service. And it isn’t the only sequel the studio has in the pipeline. A follow-up to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is also in the works for an anticipated 2024 release.

In the meantime, fans have a year to brush up on the first movie before Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget flies onto Netflix. Thankfully, the original film is streaming on Peacock Premium, according to JustWatch.com. However, once that licensing deal ends, presumably it will join the Netflix library with its sequel.

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