Internet

Wallace and Gromit hit the Web

Nick Park, creator of the feature film "Chicken Run," is reviving his original characters in 12 short films to be released online later this year.

Nick Park, creator of the feature film "Chicken Run," is reviving his original characters Wallace and Gromit in 12 short films to be released online later this year.

The series features a spacey English inventor named Wallace and his dog Gromit, stars of the award-winning short films "A Close Shave" and "The Wrong Trousers." The 12 upcoming one-minute films, each featuring a different invention from Wallace, will be available for free online, according to the Web site for Park's production company, Aardman.

The project is the latest collaboration between filmmaking and the Internet, a corner of the entertainment industry that was once heralded as nothing short of revolutionary but quickly deflated with the dot-com bubble. Even so, film projects have been inching online with some success over the last year.

BMW last year created an independent film series at BMWfilms.com, featuring films by Guy Ritchie, director of "Snatch," and Ang Lee, directed the Academy-Award winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Actors and directors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon pushed their screenwriting contest, called Project Greenlight, online. Heavy.com has peddled a series of digital-video spoofs of VH1's "Behind the Music," and AtomShockwave relaunched its entertainment Web site AtomFilms in August to showcase original films online.

"Online entertainment isn't dead," said Stacie Herron, an entertainment and media analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix. "There will always be a small number of people who will take the time to experiment and seek out original content online."

The idea for Park's upcoming short films originated from a photo project based on new Wallace inventions and commissioned by the magazine Explore. The series, called "Wallace's Workshop," will showcase inventions such as a breakfast TV toaster and an automatic iron. A new film clip will be available every week starting in the fall, according to the Aardman Web site. The films will also be available on video.

Aardman is also the creator of "Angry Kid," one of the first online animated series. Since its release in May 2000, the series has had more than seven million plays and downloads and has recouped production costs through promotions.