The Footrot Flats animated film is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a re-release through New Zealand cinemas next month.

Murray Ball's comic strip, depicting the life of Wal Footrot and Dog, elevated the status of the humble gumboot and black singlet to icons of national pride and celebrated rugby as the national game. Footrot Flats was turned into an animated feature film in 1986 and the original producers see it as fitting to re-release the movie in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup.

Footrot Flats: A Dog's Tale, was produced by Pat Cox and John Barnett, voiced by Billy T James, Peter Rowley, John Clarke and featured Dave Dobbyn's Slice of Heaven as the theme song. It is still on the list of top 10 most successful New Zealand movies of all time.

Cox, who spearheaded the film, says that as an Irishman living in New Zealand in the 1980s, the Footrot Flats cartoon strips helped shape his understanding of New Zealand culture, values and humour.


"The characters became great friends of mine," he says.

It was a huge undertaking to turn the comic into an animated feature film in the 1980s, he says, as there were no animators based in New Zealand and no opportunities for Government funding.

On top of that, Ball turned down Cox's idea to turn the comic into a movie but was later swayed, and the pair remain good friends.

John Barnett helped get the funding off the ground, and about 200 animators worked on the film in Australia, drawing every frame by hand.

Cox hopes the re-release will encourage parents and grandparents to show a new generation the iconic Kiwi movie.

"It think it's just as important now as it was then to enjoy the characters, the language and the jokes and, in some ways, to laugh at yourself," he says.

The film will screen at 14 Event Cinemas around the country for a limited two-week season, September 1 to 14.

- TimeOut