coralinesneak coralinesneak
Feature FilmStop Motion

Coraline sneak peek

I’ll keep it brief: Go see this film!

I saw Laika’s Coraline tonight and, despite the publicists request to embargo reviews for three weeks, I can’t stifle my enthusiasm. It’s great! A beautiful little gem, a stop-motion masterpiece and certainly Henry Selick’s best film.

The Academy has its first contender for 2009. I will have a lot more to say about the movie in future post… but here are a few more superlatives: The animation is terrific. The art direction is fantastic. Shane Prigmore, who did the 2D animation the replacement faces were based on, is the unsung hero of this show – his work is superb! And yeah, the story is solid. They Might Be Giants have a cameo song in the film! And speaking of cameo’s, there is a nifty visual tribute to Joe Ranft…

That’s all I’ll say about it for now. However I’m a bit concerned about the marketing. The bus posters and billboards (particularly one at Hollywood and Highland) are not very attractive. This film has so many incredible visuals, surely something more compelling than this could be created. Memo to Focus Features: you have a hit on your hands, please tell the world.

  • Jerry, that’s great to hear! I’ve been really looking forward to this film. I’m just curious… I’ve purchased the book and I don’t know if I should read it before I see this or not. I’m sure it might not make a big difference but it would be great if you could give your opinion on that.

    Go Selick!

  • Chuck R.

    I really like the poster. In fact, I like it much better than the still image at the top of the post (sorry!)

    Thanks for the heads up, tho. You were right about Kung Fu Panda, so I’ll bet 9 bucks you’re right again.

  • Glad to hear you liked it Jerry. I’ve been looking forward to this film since I first read about it here on Cartoon Brew and by the sounds of it, I won’t be disappointed!

  • I’m not offended by that poster. It’s not brilliant or anything, but from the build up, I was expecting to click through and see a clone of the usual cartoon advertising. You know, Coraline looking at me with a sassy attitiude, with ‘Right on the button, baby!’ written underneath. Or similar. At least the poster suggests it being a different type of film to the CG efforts.

    I’m sure the advertising will look exactly like I fear, when/if it reaches London buses though.

  • Jimbo2K7

    Saw it last night in Chicago, and I have to agree – it is delightful from begining to end. The movie expands upon the book in creative and sensible ways, building upon the fantasy and fright of the original story.

    The 3D work is astounding and immersive – not so much ‘in your face’ as it is ‘all around you’. Some of the outdoor scenes are breathtaking in the way you almost feel a part of the environment.

    IMHO this is one of the finest stop motion films ever made and is one not to miss.

  • This sounds great! Good for Selick and Laika. Actually, I did see a really nice standee at a movie theater here in the East Bay (SF Area) it had Coraline looking in a hole (similar to the linked poster, which I like) and inside were images on a revolving drum like a merry go round. Any film that pays tribute to Joe Ranft is OK in my book. Perhaps they are planning a campaign that starts subtle and builds.

    Jerry, did you see it in 3D?

  • NyyyyyeeeaaaaahhhhhIcan’twait!!

  • Steve Segal – Yes, I saw it in 3D and the use of 3D is very creative. The scenes in Coraline’s “real world” are flatter, the colors duller; the shots in “other world” are more dimensional, and more colorful. Best use of 3D since the 1950s. See it this way if you can.

    Rohit Iyer – My opinion: don’t read the book – see the movie first. I hadn’t read the book and I enjoyed not knowing what was going to happen next (I have the book but hadn’t gotten around to reading it – and I’m glad I didn’t).

  • That poster you linked too is much more informative (and looks more like a film poster) than some I’ve seen around town (the posters that just feature buttons and a small title at the bottom…which is much easier to pass by and not notice). But I walked by an awesome display across a whole storefront on Michigan Ave. here in Chicago – LCD display playing the trailer and huge images spanning the rest. Much better advertising there.

  • Stephen

    A hidden doorway in her room? Really?

  • Elaine

    Shane Prigmore, along with Shannon Tindle and Dan Krall, also are responsible for the final designs of the characters in the film. It looks soooo amazing too!

  • Chris

    It might be worth noting to anyone in the San Francisco Bay area that the Cartoon Art Museum will have a Coraline art show opening on January 24th featuring storyboards, character designs, and of course the beautiful puppets! If you get around to it in the first couple weeks it overlaps the tail end of the awesome Totorro Forest Exhibition too! Might be a good field trip for your animation history class at the Academy Steve, or at the very least the experimental animation classes!

  • shannon

    If you look at Coraline: A Visual Companion, you’ll find there are a lot of “unsung heroes” besides Shane.

    The entire Art Dept was virtually excluded and Tadahiro Uesugi was given all the credit for the look of the film. This is no fault of Tadahiro’s and he is a brilliant artist. However, NONE of his character designs were used in the film.

    The crew for this film was the absolute best I’ve ever worked with and hopefully their work wil be included on future dvd release.

    Below is a list of just of a few of the bad asses whose brilliant work was excluded, or uncredited in the book:

    Andy Schuhler- story, set design, additional character design
    Jon Klassen- Vis Dev/Set Design
    Vera Brosgol- Story
    Graham Annable- Story
    Chris Butler- Story
    Mike Murnane- model/sculpture
    Charlie Daniels- model/sculpture
    Chris Appelhans- vis dev
    Kent Melton- Sculptor
    Leo Rijn- Sculptor
    Damon Bard- sculptor
    Tony Merrithew- sculptor
    Fon Davis- Model building super genius

    There are many, many more brilliant artists in addition to this list who made this beautiful film happen!

  • Stephen

    Shannon, I agree – while Tadahiro is AMAZING – the visual guide is hardly an accurate depiction of what was put into this film. And YOUR work was as brilliant as the above mentions! Maybe in the not too distant future an art of book will be published. I’d be first in line.

  • Shane and Shannon-clasemates-Kudos!! From what I’ve seen this picture looks great. We’re looking forward to seeing it!

  • Dan Lee

    so lucky!! One of the movies I wanted to see for a long time.

  • As far as the marketing goes: my sole awareness of this film until within the last two weeks has come from the digital advertising display screens in the Metro Red Line westbound subway tunnel between the Hollywood and Highland and Universal City stops here in Los Angeles. You only get to see this from riding the train, and it’s a few seconds of trailer, essentially, with no sound. This system debuted with promotion of the Speed Racer film last year. The Coraline scenes shown are tantalizing enough to make me want to see the film without knowing anything about its plot. I couldn’t tell from the images that it was a stop-motion and not CGI-animated film.

    More about the display system is at

  • Jerry..yeah, wow thank you ..jeez.

    It was a pleasure after having designed the Characters alongside Shannon Tindle , and Dan Krall, to then have Mr. Henry Selick ask me to help figure out the facial expressions and animation on these guys.
    But with the facial expressions – A HATS OFF HAS TO GO TO the absolute best stop motion animators and puppet fabricators in the world, that took what I did and whent to town. Amazing! I worked very closely with Henry Selick, Anthony Scott (Head of Animation) ,Trey Thomas (Directing Animator), Georgina Hayns (Head of Puppet Fabrication) ,Jill Ahlstrand (Puppet Fabrication Coordinator) , and Brian Mclean (Head Prototypes), and Mike Cachuela to really make the facial animation for this film special.
    Also everyone should look at the list that Shannon Tindle posted above , of the other incredible artists who’s work we sadly can not see in any book. These artists, under the direction of Henry Selick are hugely responsible for the final look of Coraline. Henry pushed all of us creatively, and I think it paid off in the movie.

    Thanks for the kind words Jerry,

    Shane Prigmore

  • The future of animation is still bright. Films like “Coraline” will keep this exciting medium alive and vital.

    Plus, it’s nice to see another major player step onstage. This is the kind of competition we need.

  • Joseph

    I haven’t seen the movie. And even if it is the best film of the year. Mark my words here and now. It will be considered a box office failure due to marketing and mainstream appeal.

    Sorry Laika.

  • T M

    I have to admit I was a bit anxious about this movie. Not only is it the film debut of the relatively new Laika Entertainment, but it’s also based upon a very dark children’s story. I really want to see the Portland studio succeed, and this early impression from Jerry makes me feel optimistic.

    I’ve been looking forward to this film for a while. This impression makes me even more excited. Let’s hope this is the start of a long line of good films from Laika.

  • shannon

    Oh, I forgot!!! Dan Krall was a HUGE part of this film! He did BRILLIANT work!

  • AdrianC

    I’m actually a bit excited about this movie. I’m hoping it will be a good, refreshing film (it certainly looks like it will be).

    By the way, Terry G., thanks for mentioning that specific advertisement. I’ve been meaning to say something about but it doesn’t matter now (don’t worry, I’m not mad or anything). The point is it’s been made known at Cartoon Brew. I suspected that this might be something the Brew wanted to know about but I wasn’t sure if it was newsworthy. Maybe Jerry or Amid knew about it already—who knows? Anyway, it’s an unusual (considering where the images are displayed) yet nifty method of advertising.

  • Kristine

    I saw it in the Chicago screening last night (got there even though we had -30 temps outside). It was AMAZING. Its amazing for stop-motion, average people will think its 3-d animation. I loved the designs and the story. I didn’t read it beforehand, and am really glad I didn’t because it made everything more surprising. The film is chock-full of solid animation, storytelling, and exectuion of the whole experience. This will definitley be an oscar contender. I’m going to see it again when it goes out into wide release.

  • Blasko

    Yes, I agree with all those who cannot wait to see this. Here’s to great things — and great returns — for the talented team at LAIKA.

    Say, one question though. Why is the soundtrack not available — no word even on preorder? Is it coming?

  • justin rasch

    WOOOOOO HOOOOOOOoooooo!!!!

    Im so glad to read this!!


  • It’s good to see that so many here liked the finished movie. Everything I’ve seen so far in all the promotional material looks sensational! I noticed more than a few familiar names in Shannon’s post–and that makes me even more enthusiastic about seeing this movie. There’s talent aplenty!

    Can’t wait!

  • I have been interested in this film I admit mostly because the director behind it. I think I’ll give it a watch.

  • Awesome….I’m even more excited now. :D

  • I think this film may be another “Iron Giant” situation. Great film, superb animation, horrible marketing, and no one goes to see it in its initial run. The film will be a cult classic in animation circles, but no one outside of the animation crowd will remember it. While that’s not a horrible thing for the film as an art piece, it’s horrible for the film (and LAIKA) from a business standpoint.

    With all the advertising wizardry of Nike shoes, you would think we would be seeing much more in the way of marketing for this film. Hopefully I’m totally wrong and the film does great numbers.

  • Ahh, Floyd, obviously you haven’t seen these:

  • OM

    …”Embargo” is looking like the word that marketing goons will have to unlearn in 2009. More and more journalists are ignoring “requests” to withhold reviews until a specified date on the ground that placing a time restriction on reporting turns news into hype. Readers want news, not hype.

  • Tony W.

    I looked through the Coraline book at the store the other day and was disappointed at how horribly pixelated half the pictures were. They must have taken those pictures with a cell phone or something because why else would the quality be so low?
    Despite that, what the pictures showed looked beautiful and, with the good quality pictures, you can see all the details the people who worked on this movie put into the sets and puppets.

  • Anna

    … and once again – I just found about it NOW and totally by accident

    oh yeah, great marketing there *one hand clapping*

  • cbones

    actually the ad campaign is being done by wieden and kennedy the same company that does all of nike’s stuff … it must be costing a fortune!!! and has some pretty incredible stuff .. check it out … at someone is keeping track of the campaign. I also worked on Coraline for a year and a half – with no credit :( saw it at the crew screening and thought it was great!

  • Definitely looking like a winner. Can’t wait to see it.

  • Coraline was a beautiful film. People should definitely see it in 3D if they have the chance. I’m always usually a little weary of 3D, because it rarely adds to the actual film itself, but for Coraline it seems to add a whole other dimension to the art and look of the film (no pun intended).