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Wednesday
Feb092011

Wherefore art thou Gnomeo and Juliet?

William Shakespeare's tragic Romeo and Juliet has been re-imagined with with feuding lawn gnomes in Elton John's long awaited animated production, Gnomeo and Juliet. Hitting theaters on Friday, February 11, 2011, Gnomeo and Juliet is the first animated Touchstone Pictures release since 1993's The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The CG animated feature stars James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as the romantically starcrossed gnomes. Like every other English Shakespearean production, the cast is stocked with talented actors. British A-listers Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Ashley Jensen, Matt Lucas, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Stephen Merchant, Julie Walters, Richard Wilson and Ozzy Osborne provide their distinctive voices. Talented thespians Dolly Parton and Hulk Hogan add a their bit of Americana to the voice track.

Described as an edgy take on Shakespeare, families of red and blue gnomes resume the gang-style feuding between Capulet and Montague. The Gnomeo & Juliet script was acquired in 2000 by Elton John's Rocket Pictures, who pitched the idea to Walt Disney Studios. In 2005, Gnomeo and Juliet was originally slated to be a Walt Disney Features Animation production, but the project was dropped in 2006 when John Lasseter and Ed Catmull came over during Pixar's acquisition. The gnomes were picked up by the Miramax Films division, which Disney shut down and sold in 2010. After years of uncertainty, Gnomeo & Juliet was finally produced under Disney's Touchstone Pictures label.

An Elton John inspired scene from Gnomeo & Juliet. Image © Gnomeo & Juliet

Initially, John and songwriter Bernie Taupin planned to write new songs for the animated 3D feature. However, former Disney Studios chief Dick Cook, suggested that the film should feature Elton John's iconic music. Although Gnomeo & Juliet features two all new tracks from Taupin & John, the majority of the soundtrack and score features Elton John classics like Don't Go Breaking My HeartRocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long Long Time)Tiny Dancer and Bennie And The Jets.

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