It was produced by Aardman Animations, and financed by StudioCanal in association with Anton Capital Entertainment, with the former also distributing the film in the United Kingdom and several other European countries. Richard Starzak and Mark Burton wrote and directed the film, with Ilan Eshkeri composing the music, while Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, and Omid Djalili provided the voices. The film premiered on 24 January 2015, at the Sundance Film Festival, and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 6 February 2015.
Shaun, a mischievous sheep living with his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm, is bored with the routine of life on the farm. One day he concocts a plan to have a day off by tricking the farmer into going back to sleep by counting his sheep repeatedly. However, the caravan in which they put the farmer to bed accidentally rolls away, taking him all the way into the city. Bitzer, the farmer's dog, chases after him.
The farmer receives a blow to the head and is taken to a hospital, where he is diagnosed with amnesia before leaving. He wanders into a hair salon and, acting on a vague recollection of shearing his sheep, cuts a celebrity's hair. The celebrity loves the result and the farmer gains popularity as a hair stylist called "Mr. X".
Meanwhile, the sheep find life impossible without the farmer, so Shaun sneaks onto a bus to the city; the rest of the flock follow him on another bus. They manage to disguise themselves as people and begin looking for the farmer, but Shaun is captured by Trumper, an over-zealous animal-control worker. Shaun is reunited with Bitzer in the animal lock-up, and with the help of a homeless dog named Slip they manage to escape while imprisoning Trumper. They find the farmer, but he does not recognize Shaun, who is heartbroken.
Feeling unwanted, Shaun, Bitzer, and the flock make a makeshift home in an alley. Their spirits are revived when they stumble upon evidence of the farmer's memory loss. They devise a plan which involves putting the farmer to sleep again, returning him to the trailer on a pantomime horse (really the flock of sheep in an elaborate disguise), and hooking the trailer up to a bus returning to Mossy Bottom. The plan is initially successful, but they are pursued by Trumper (having escaped the lock-up), who is now intent on killing them outright.
At the farm the group hides in a shed which Trumper tries to push into a nearby rock quarry with a tractor. The farmer wakes up, regains his memory, and Trumper is defeated through teamwork. Slip leaves, but is adopted by a bus driver who finds her on the road. The farmer and the animals have a renewed appreciation for each other, and the next day the farmer cancels the day's routine activities for an official day off.
Epilogues reveal that the animal-control service is turned into an animal-protection centre, Trumper finds work wearing a chicken suit to promote a restaurant, and the farmer sees a news report detailing some of the mayhem he slept through during his rescue from the city.
Source of character names unless otherwise noted:Justin Fletcher as Shaun, a sheep who acts as the leader of the flock
Fletcher also plays Timmy, a lamb who admires Shaun
John Sparkes as Bitzer,a shepherd dog who assists the Farmer
Sparkes also does the voice of The Farmer
Omid Djalili as Trumper, an Animal Containment worker
Kate Harbour as Timmy's mum
Harbour also plays Merly, a worker at the hairdressers shop
Richard Webber as Shirley, a fat sheep
Tim Hands as Slip, a homeless dog
Simon Greenall as the twins, two sheep
Emma Tate as Hazel, a member of the flock
Henry Burton as a junior doctor
Burton also does an Animal containment visitor
Dhimant Vyas as a hospital consultant
Sophie Laughton as an Animal containment visitor
Nia Medi James as an operatic sheep
Sean Connolly as Stylists
Connolly also plays the Maitre D, Golfer, Angry Panto Horse and Hospital Characters
Stanley Unwin as Bus Station Announcer and Hospital Announcer
Andy Nyman as Nuts, a sheep with strange eyes.
Jack Paulson as a celebrity with hair trouble
Nick Park as himself
By January 2011, Aardman had started developing a feature film version of Shaun the Sheep, with a plan to be ready for a release in 2013/2014. By April 2013, StudioCanal was set to finance and distribute the film, written and directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton. The film had an initial release date of 20 March 2015, which later was moved to 6 February 2015. Principal photography and production began on 30 January 2014.
Ilan Eshkeri composed the music for the film. The title song, "Feels Like Summer", was a collaboration between Tim Wheeler (of rock band Ash), composer Ilan Eshkeri and former-Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson. The soundtrack was released in the United Kingdom digitally on 1 June 2015, and on CD on 29 June 2015. All music composed by Ilan Eshkeri, except where noted.
Shaun the Sheep Movie premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, as part of the Sundance Kid program on 24 January 2015. The film was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 6 February 2015, by StudioCanal.
The United States film posters spoofed some of the higher-budgeted films of that year, including Ant-Man (renamed Ant-Lamb), Minions (renamed Muttons), Spectre (renamed Shaun), Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (renamed Mutton: Impossible - Rogue Bacon), Fantastic Four (renamed Fantastic Flock), and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (renamed The Hungry Games: Eating Hay).
Shaun the Sheep Movie was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on 1 June 2015 by StudioCanal.
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes records 99% positive reviews based on 156 critics and an average rating of 8.1/10. The site's consensus reads, "Warm, funny, and brilliantly animated, Shaun the Sheep is yet another stop-motion jewel in Aardman's family-friendly crown." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". On CinemaScore, audience members gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying, "Shaun the Sheep Movie may be less elaborate than Aardman masterpieces like Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but there's still much to enjoy. It's not often you see a cartoon that references both Night of the Hunter and Silence of the Lambs." Inkoo Kang of The Wrap gave the film a positive review, saying, "Refreshingly for children (but especially for adults), there are no lessons to learn and no faults to admonish. Instead, it's an 84-minute, dialogue-free distillation of all the innocent fun we wish childhood could be."
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, saying "Playful, absurd and endearingly inventive, this unstoppably amusing feature reminds us why Britain's Aardman Animations is a mainstay of the current cartooning golden age." Peter Keough of The Boston Globe gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Like a great silent movie, it creates its pathos and comedy out of the concrete objects being animated, building elaborate gags involving everyday items transformed into Rube Goldberg devices."
Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune gave the film four out of four stars, saying "Sometimes the simplest movies are the best. Case in point: Shaun the Sheep, a dialogue-free, non-digitally designed, plain old stop-motion animated film that is hilarious beyond human measure." Guy Lodge of Variety gave the film a positive review, saying, "Though realized on a more modest scale than other Aardman features, the film is still an absolute delight in terms of set and character design, with sophisticated blink-and-you’ll-miss-it detailing to counterbalance the franchise’s cruder visual trademarks."
Joe McGovern of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, saying, "In a bold move that pays off, the movie jettisons dialogue altogether and tells its whole story through barn-animal noises, goofy sound effects, and sight gags so silly they’d make Benny Hill spin in sped-up ecstasy. The effect is contagiously cute." Jordan Hoffman of the New York Daily News gave the film four out of five stars, saying "From the company that gave us Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit, this adorable tale about a sheep who leads his comrades on a big-city adventure is some of the most pure visual storytelling you’re going to see this year."
The film cost less than $25 million to produce. It grossed $106.2 million worldwide, with some of its biggest markets being the United Kingdom ($22 million), North America ($19.4 million) and Germany ($12.1 million).
On 14 September 2015, StudioCanal announced it was working with Aardman on a sequel. On 25 October 2016, Aardman confirmed a sequel would go into pre production in January 2017 as Shaun the Sheep Movie 2, with Richard Starzak, director of the first film, returning.