Who knew that a guy who built his fortune selling overpriced shoes to kids who could never truly feel accepted unless they had them was also a big geek? Phil Knight, the king of the Nike empire, took over Will Vinton Studios, most known for the California Raisins, and turned it into Laika a few years back, employing his son Travis as one of the lead animators.
The film Laika’s most associated with is the Neil Gaiman adaptation Coraline, which Variety reports this morning will finally see an Oscar-qualifying release later this year, followed by a wide theatrical on February 6th, 2009. I’m really glad there’s finally going to be some promotion for this project because I’ve been trying to drum up hype about it seemingly on my own for well over a year now!
Laika unveiled that they’re also working on some new animation projects, including an adaptation of Alan Snow’s Here Be Monsters!, a steampunk adventure set in 1850’s London that follows a 12-year-old who lives underground in a world full of monsters who has to learn how to be normal when he goes above ground. They’re still up in the air if it will be stop-motion or CG.
Coraline story chief Chris Butler will be co-directing another Laika project, called Paranorman, about a small town under a curse. Only a 13-year-old boy can stop the town from being overrun by zombies, but no one will listen to him.
Laika’s other potential projects are more focused on the kiddie aspect of things, though there is one about the origins of Halloween that Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick wrote with John Carls that I will definitely be interested to hear more about. Needless to say, Laika’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and with the kind of capital Knight has to work with, they can do all sorts of cool stuff. Obviously we’ll keep our eyes peeled for more on all the projects mentioned herein!
Visit Laika’s official site to see a clip and the trailer for Coraline!
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