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Aardman Animations and Dreamworks have ended their five-film distribution deal after just three productions, the BBC reports.

The two companies tied the knot in 1999, with the apparently happy marriage producing three offspring: Chicken Run, Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Flushed Away. However, the last two reportedly generated losses, prompting Dreamworks to announce the split and explain that the couple had "different business goals".

Aardman admitted the pair's "ambitions have moved apart", with spokesman Arthur Sheriff citing "Dreamworks' move to focus on computer animation" as the cause of the separation.

He added: "We always knew that America would be a hard task for us - we're a very English company. We embrace the international market but we think part of our strength is our English sense of humour and we want to continue with that."

The divorce seems amicable enough. Aardman owners Peter Lord and David Sproxton said they'd had a "hugely successful and creative relationship" with Dreamworks. They explained: "But both companies are aware that our ambitions have moved apart, and it feels like the right time to move on."

The pair concluded by announcing "an ambitious slate of feature film projects in development" - details to be released shortly. The company won't, however, be involved in the fourth planned Aardman/Dreamworks pregnancy - Crood Awakening - which will now be a Dreamworks-only affair.

Dreamworks big cheese Jeffrey Katzenberg chipped in with: "While I will always be a fan and an admirer of Aardman's work, our different business goals no longer support each other." ®

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