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Feature Film

Laika’s Next Feature Will Be “Boxtrolls”

Laika, the Portland studio that made Coraline and ParaNorman, announced this morning that its third feature will be Boxtrolls. The film, a 3D stop-motion/CGI hybrid, is based on Alan Snow’s fantasy-adventure novel Here Be Monsters. Anthony Stacchi (co-director, Open Season) and Graham Annable (story artist on Coraline and ParaNorman) are directing. Focus Features will release Boxtrolls on October 17th, 2014.

Full details in the release:

PORTLAND, February 7th, 2013 – Marking their third project together, LAIKA and Focus Features, the two companies behind the current Academy Award-nominated animated feature ParaNorman, announced today that LAIKA has begun production on The Boxtrolls. The new movie will be released nationwide by Focus on October 17th, 2014. Focus CEO James Schamus and LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight made the announcement today.

As on the previous animation collaborations ParaNorman and Coraline, Focus will hold worldwide distribution rights to The Boxtrolls, and Universal Pictures International will release the movie overseas (with eOne Distribution handling Canada). Coraline (2009) earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature Film; and was named one of the year’s 10 Best Films by the American Film Institute (AFI). In addition to its Academy Award nomination, ParaNorman (2012) is in the running for the BAFTA Awards’ animated feature prize. ParaNorman has won two Annie Awards (the animation community’s Oscars equivalent) and been cited as best animated feature film by 14 critics’ groups, more than any other 2012 animated feature.

The Boxtrolls is a 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid animated feature based on Alan Snow’s bestselling fantasy adventure novel Here Be Monsters. The Boxtrolls is being directed by Anthony Stacchi (co-director of the hit animated feature Open Season) and Graham Annable (story artist on Coraline and ParaNorman), and produced by David Ichioka and Mr. Knight. The voice cast includes Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley, Academy Award nominee Toni Collette, Elle Fanning (marking her fourth movie with Focus), Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Game of Thrones), Emmy Award nominee Jared Harris (Mad Men), Simon Pegg (Star Trek), Nick Frost (of Focus’ upcoming The World’s End), Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd), and Tracy Morgan (30 Rock).

The Boxtrolls is a comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that’s the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells. The Boxtrolls have raised an orphaned human boy, Eggs (voiced by Mr. Hempstead-Wright), since infancy as one of their dumpster-diving and mechanical junk-collecting own. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by villainous pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Mr. Kingsley), who is bent on eradicating them as his ticket to Cheesebridge society, the kindhearted band of tinkerers must turn to their adopted charge and adventurous rich girl Winnie (Ms. Fanning) to bridge two worlds amidst the winds of change – and cheese.

Mr. Knight said, “The Boxtrolls is a visually dazzling mash-up of gripping detective story, absurdist comedy, and steampunk adventure with a surprisingly wholesome heart. It’s Dickens by way of Monty Python. Tony and Graham have crafted a strange and beautiful world replete with fantastical creatures, good-for-nothing reprobates, madcap antics, and rip-roaring feats of derring-do. But at its core, like all LAIKA films, The Boxtrolls is a moving and human story with timelessness and powerful emotional resonance. We’re thrilled to partner with Focus Features and Universal to bring this remarkable story to family audiences around the world.”

Mr. Schamus commented, “Following our successful collaborations on ParaNorman and Coraline, we are delighted to be embarking on a third wondrous adventure with the LAIKA artisans who transform everyday materials into living creatures infused with dimension, humor, and soul. With a wonderfully appealing menagerie of fun characters, and a generous, open heart at its center, The Boxtrolls will be a must-see for family audiences.”

  • Yoram Benz

    Sounds like a Fantastic film! Glad to see Laika trailblazing in Hollywood with great stories and concepts and still move full steam ahead on great productions regardless of what the so called box office “experts” and speculators said of Paranorman’s financial success (or supposed lack of in their eyes…)

    • Interstella

      Thankfully it did well enough in the UK to gain some ground I believe. It was such a good movie that had such a human element to the villains as opposed to the rest of 2012’s “evil, because they’re evil” antagonist’s in animated films. Pixar always said they were inspired by Miyazaki but Ghibli always has tries to paint all of their character’s as complex people so there isn’t necessarily a clear “evil villain . Animated movies over here have a tendency to be like “oh, well they’re evil, so” and have them killed, and never mentioned again. Loose end tie up, happily ever after. Most often the villain dies in an ‘accident’ while fighting so the hero doesn’t even have to take responsibility for it.

      Paranorman seemed so truthfully human in comparison. With more of a real world moral.

      • Ronnie

        …Uh, Mor’du was not clearly evil, more misguided, and he was killed because that freed his spirit. Brave is probably the most Ghibli-esque Pixar movie in that sense. Heck, I can only think of a couple Pixar antagonists who are clear ‘evil villains’ without much in the way of depth or further motivations, and those are in the two Brad Bird movies. Most of the other antagonists are just either ignorant or single-minded.

  • Skent

    Another Laika movie, awesome. I’ll be there opening night.

    • jmahon

      Agreed- now, if only we can get them to option a movie using their traditional 2D animation talent, we’ll be set.

  • jmahon

    finally Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will be in an animated movie!

  • Maya A.

    I’m really excited for this. The premise sounds imaginative and fun, and Laika has had a really good track record so far.

  • Laika is hands down the most impressive studio out there today. Both ParaNorman and Coraline was two stunning films with heaps of integrity, charm and beautiful craftsmanship. Can’t wait to see where this’ll lead!!

    • Grem

      Agreed, I wish people would recognize it and go see their movies in theatres. Coraline has go to be a top 10 animated feature yet it failed at the box office, and Paranorman did even worse. It would be a crying shame to see this company out of business.

  • Mohegan

    It sounds a bit more silly than their previous features. And I mean silly as in a positive, Monty Python way! I’m curious and I will be looking forward to seeing the first teaser.

  • Ben

    Hell yes more Lakia, but boo to them being distributed by focus again. They’ve had a terrible track record of getting the movies to australia in a decent time frame.

  • Blasko

    Adam, cannot wait. Thanks for sharing this with us. Any thoughts on the visual style of the film? Did you have access to preproduction work? Not to worry if you’re sworn to secrecy.

  • Topher

    based solely on the image above I am very excited to see what Laika does with this world