A little chicken will carry the weight of a studio in November, when Walt Disney Co. hatches its first full-blown computer-animated feature, "Chicken Little."
Disney investors and many in the animation community will closely watch the box office performance of the comedy, which aims to put a new twist on the classic fable of a young chicken who causes widespread panic when he mistakes a falling acorn for a piece of the sky. The film, which cost about $100 million to make, is directed by Mark Dindal and stars the voices of Zach Braff and Joan Cusack.
For Disney, the movie represents an opportunity to restore some of the luster to its once-storied animation division. The unit has stumbled in recent years with such flops as "Treasure Planet" and "Home on the Range" in the face of mounting competition from rivals such as DreamWorks Animation SKG, creator of the computer-animated hit "Shrek" movies and "Madagascar."
"Chicken" was originally scheduled for release this summer, but that was pushed back to Nov. 4 to fill a holiday slot created when Pixar decided to move its next film, "Cars," to summer 2006.