The studio behind such hits as Coraline and Paranorman are back. Laika just announced their next project, Wildwood, along with a poster reveal. The studio is famous for their unique stop motion animation utilizing hand sculpted puppets and sets to bring their characters to life. Wildwood will be their sixth full-length feature film.
Laika's very own president and CEO, Travis Knight, is slated to direct. Knight is no stranger to a director's seat, as he directed Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings as well as the 2018 blockbuster Bumblebee. The film will, however, be a first for cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. Deschanel will be making his first steps into stop motion through this project. Though it won't be his first project in animation, as he was involved in the cinematography of Jon Favreau's The Lion King. Wildwood will be produced by Arianne Sutner and written by Chris Butler, both of whom won the Golden Globe for Missing Link, which was directed by Butler.
Wildwood will be based on the first book in The Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy, lead singer and songwriter for the band The Decemberists. No distribution is announced as of yet, though there are plenty of options such as Netflix, Amazon or Apple TV+ out there.
Beyond Portland's city limits lies Wildwood. You're not supposed to go there. You're not even supposed to know it exists. But Prue McKeel is about to enter this enchanted wonderland. Her baby brother Mac has been taken by a murder of crows into the forest's depths, and she - along with her hapless classmate Curtis - is going to get him back. Prue might think she's too old for fairy tales, but she's just found herself at the center of one...filled with strange talking animals, roguish bandits, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions.
"As a deep-dyed native son of Oregon, I have rainwater, microbrew, and fair-trade coffee coursing through my veins," said Knight in an interview with Indiewire. "With 'Wildwood,' I have the opportunity to tell a madly ambitious story of magic, wonder, and danger set in the place I grew up. My very own Portland will join that pantheon of unforgettable fantasy realms, with a stirring epic that will kindle imaginations, lift spirits, and break hearts."
Deschanel sees the project as a new opportunity to learn, saying this with Indiewire. "I'm always looking to doing something I've never done before. Which means working on a project where I have no idea what the hell I'm doing. I filmed 'Never Look Away' in German, which I do not speak - and photographed 'Lion King' in a virtual world I knew nothing about. 'Wildwood' will be filmed with stop-motion animation which is actually one of the oldest forms of animation, but utilizing some of the newest technology to make it that much more expressive. Once again, I have no idea what I am doing. But, honestly, I am really just overseeing some amazingly talented people who have done this many times before. I'm learning from them. It's an exciting process - fascinating."
Laika has more than proven themselves to bring audiences to whole new worlds throughout the years. Bringing fun and frightening stories to life such as Coraline and Paranorman, heartfelt adventures such as Kubo and the Two Strings, or even light hearted comedy romps in The Boxtrolls and Missing Link. With each project, they continue to bush the boundaries of stop motion as a medium as well as special effects. Each of their five films earned academy award nominations. The studio also earned the Academy Sci-Tech Oscar for its notable rapid prototyping, 3D printing system for character animation. Not long ago, the studio purchased the rights for Seventeen, the action thriller novella by screenwriter John Brownlow, which it plans to make as its first live-action feature.