It is a week of mixed emotions for Nick Park and Steve Box, the creative brains and hands behind one of the greatest animated double acts since Tom met Jerry, writes Alison Jones...
While The Curse of the Were Rabbit, Wallace and Gromit's first full length adventure has conquered the American box office, they have seen the memories of past glories - Creature Comforts, A Close Shave, The Wrong Trousers and Chicken Run - go up in smoke.
But Nick has been anxious to put things into perspective, saying the destruction of film sets, props and models in a warehouse fire was not a tragedy compared to the suffering of people caught up in earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.
All has not been entirely lost. The antics of the Plasticine legends are caught forever on videos and DVDs. And as for memorabilia, well Nick guiltily admits he has a home full of it.
"I have a whole mechanism that slides me down to my car and takes me to work," he jokes, acknowledging Wallace's penchant for making complicated inventions to perform simple tasks.
" No it hasn't got that involved," he continues. "I have a lot of merchandise around the house. It has been called the Wallace Collection.
"It was a thrill for the first five years to have your own stuff on the shelves in the shops but the novelty's worn off quite a bit...and I don't wear tank tops."
But thinking up adventures for one cheese loving man and his dog comes as naturally as breathing to Nick.
The idea of making them the stars of a full length film after a series of Oscar-winning shorts, took (ahem) root after the success of Chicken Run.
" Part of the reason I did that first was because I was naturally cautious. There were certain things that worked because it was a short.
"We were really waiting for the right idea to come along that had size and scope for character development. Which turned out to be vegetables."
While the plot of Chicken Run owed a great debt (and possibly dinner and a movie) to The Great Escape, inspiration for The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was lifted from old horror movies.
Attempting to find a solution to a rabbit outbreak that is threatening the village's vegetable patches, Wallace inadvertently creates a monstrous bunny. As ever, it is his trusty canine companion Gromit who has to sort the mess out.
"I remember when we first pitched the idea to Jeffrey Katzenberg at Dreamworks, the pitch was about four hours long," says Nick. "I remember Jeffrey's eyelids were dropping, but he did have jetlag at the time."
Proof, if it were needed, that Jeffrey, the producer of the Shrek series, can recognise an animated hit in his sleep.
The film also stars the voices of Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Tottington, an object of Wallace's affection, and Ralph Fiennes as the trigger happy rabbit- hunter Lord Victor Quartermaine.
"When we are writing and sketching and making the prototype puppets, we're always imagining the kind of voices. Ralph was on the list quite early actually because he played Steed in The Avengers," explains Nick.
The unintentional hilarity of the big screen remake of the classic TV series, matched the tone Nick and Steve were trying to create in Were-Rabbit.
" Ralph is fantastically hilarious. He has got such an unusual quality to his voice. I remember I had to ask him to do an evil laugh - it got cut in the end - but he was so funny.
"I said to him 'I bet you didn't have to do that in Schindler's List'."
"It was great getting classical British A-list actors to ham it up, they just played along and had fun," Steve agrees. "They were like putty in our hands," Nick can't resist adding.
Much of the appeal of the film lies in its endearing English quirkiness, something that Nick and Steve were determined to maintain.
For example, they stuck to their painstaking process of stop-motion animation rather than resorting to computer graphics, even though it meant Were-Rabbit was five years in the making.
"Someone in Australia called it 'that lumpy British animation style'," says Steve. "We're proud of that, that you can see the fingerprints."
They also kept Wallace's quaintly regional turn of phrase, aware that some sentences would cause a bit of head scratching in places like the American mid-west
"We had reams of notes about what 'Give it some more welly, mate' meant," admits Nick.
"Or 'You'll buckle me trunnions'," agrees Steve. "The whole point is that it doesn't matter. We've been fed a whole dialogue of American colloquialisms over the past 30, 40, 50 years and we are just sending a few over that way now."
Among the comedy threads that they have maintained throughout the Wallace and Gromit - such as Heath Robinson-esque inventions and tank tops - is Wallace's fondness for some "cracking cheese".
Previously loyal to Wensleydale, in a moment of distress they break out the emergency fromage - Stinking Bishop
"We needed something to revive Wallace like smelling salts and it had the right name," explains Steve.
A vegetarian cheese, it is made in Gloucestershire.
"We asked the guy who produces it if we could use it and he was really happy. I tried some of it - it stunk."
However, there have been reports that the cheese-maker is worried he might not be able to make enough if the popularity of the movie results in a sudden surge in demand.
"I hope we're not making his life a misery or anything," says a concerned Nick. "We purely used it, as Steve says, for the name. It sounded really funny. I got a packet of it as well and it stunk my kitchen out for about a week. It's very nice, though."
* Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is on general release from Friday