kubo_and_the_two_strings kubo_and_the_two_strings
Feature FilmStop Motion

Teaser: Laika’s ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ Is A Stop Motion Action-Adventure Film

Laika’s fourth film, Kubo and the Two Strings, looks to be the studio’s most different yet, an honest-to-goodness action-adventure film set in a mythic Japan. It’s a bold vision in the U.S. feature animation landscape which rarely ventures into serious adventure territory.

The studio released a teaser trailer this morning, which gives a taste of the film’s ornate visual style and epic setting:

Kubo will mark the directorial debut of animator Travis Knight, who is also the CEO of Laika, and is written by Marc Haimes, a studio executive-turned-screenwriter, and Chris Butler (writer and co-director, ParaNorman). The idea is based on a concept originally brought to the studio by animation artist Shannon Tindle.

The official synopsis reveals quite a bit of the film’s plot:

Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and Kamekichi (Brenda Vaccaro). But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen — a magical musical instrument — Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Rooney Mara) to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.

Focus Features, which has released all of Laika’s previous features (Coraline, Paranorman, The Boxtrolls), will launch Kubo in the U.S. on August 19, 2016. Universal Pictures International will distribute the film abroad.

  • Marc Hendry

    Laika and Cartoon Saloon are really on top of the medium. Can’t moan too much about the state of the medium with these places’ output

  • Impheatus

    This looks amazing!
    Looking forward to this great piece of art.

  • Impheatus

    This looks amazing!
    Looking forward to this great piece of art.

  • Enough with the Name Dropping

    Just once I would love to read a synopsis without the Tinseltown names associated with it. It’s distracting and comes off like they don’t have hope in the movie. It’s even worse when they mention their names in the trailers. Still, looks interesting visually.

  • Ben Balistreri

    Shannon Tindle created such an amazing idea! Looking forward to seeing how the stellar artists at Laika execute his vision!

  • This already looks great! I’m really intrigued, more so than BoxTrolls. Looking to see this film!

  • Matt

    To bad Shannon Tindle couldnt of seen this all the way through as the film was pried from his hands, so sad. It looks amazing and all and I love stop motion but it actually looks and feels like CG. I would like to see it pulled back some to make it feel more hand done.

  • Tre

    Very excited about this. Love me a bit of LAIKA. :D

  • Revy

    Laika proving once again they might not be the most financially astounding studio in the game, but they are far and away the most interesting to follow. Dear Laika: Please keep telling original and spirited stories like you always do! I’m looking forward to Kudo the most in an industry dominated by franchise sequels and redundant happy meal movie tie-ins.


  • jhalpernkitcat

    Laika films always draw me in with their stunning stopmotion. A film with Japanese folklore elements mixed in? You already had me.

  • dantes342

    Looks gorgeous and hoping for a real Laika success — but it’s really too bad that Shannon Tindle, who conceived and co-wrote this, wasn’t allowed to see his vision through. Laika seemed to be a place that really could pull off being an artist-friendly studio…

  • Paul M

    Matthew McConaughey Better work on his Liverpool accent.

  • Tomm

    Jebus that looks fuppin brilliant. So so so goooood . Wow.

  • Elsi Pote

    Boxtrolls wasn’t my cup of tea but I’m willing to pay for a full price ticket to see this one.

  • I Like Animation Too Much

    This is looking very interesting. I’ll definitely be looking forward to its release.

  • Dustin Miller

    I like LAIKA a great deal. Their character designs are some of the best out there. Their stories can leave a lot to be desired though. That being said I worry about this movie not from a storytelling standpoint but from a marketing one. Unless it’s branded with “Disney” or “Pixar” the action-adventure sub-genre of animation doesn’t typically do well at the box office. It’s one of those companies I’d to see have continued success because we need something other than another Ice Age sequel, Disney kitsch and Dreamsquirts.

    • Crispy Walker

      Couldn’t agree more. LAIKA does its best, and is probably the only American studio that’s letting its films happen in a way that isn’t so tightly corporatized and calculated. In a way, that’s great, because at least each one of their prior 3 releases has had a consistent directorial vision to them — whether or not that’s totally worked could be debated, but I’ve come to love all 3 of their films more than anything else released over the last decade (though my enjoyment of Boxtrolls is pretty much purely visual, though the story IS fun). But LAIKA’s films are marketed SO poorly. They made a splash on the net with the Boxtrolls trailer for featuring gay families, which was whatever… but as the film actually got closer and closer towards theatres, it was like the marketing just vanished. I remember when Coraline came out, there were moving ads in the metro in Washington DC. Since then, I’ve not seen a scrap of advertising for a LAIKA film. I imagine that might be Focus’s fault, as they’re the distributors. It is frustrating though. On the one hand, I’d love for a larger production company to take them on and give them the marketing push they deserve, but on the other, I love how autonomously they make their films. I remember watching a roundtable of directors from the 2012 animated films, and the Paranorman’s director’s experience was the complete antithesis of everyone else’s, and it really did seem like that’s how it SHOULD be in order to make any strides towards moving the medium forward and out of the box of fart-jokes and sequels.

      Ah well. I’m excited for this film. I’m excited by the visual style that LAIKA gives their films — the prospect of oragami coming to life in some scenes — the idea of an action-packed animated fantasy film sounds fun. I just hope they can pull it off, and moreover, I hope people go to see it.

  • Mark0polo

    So..How many of the Japanese inspired tale actually Japanese..Or even Asian? Seems like vocal the cast are mostly white, which is disappointing. If your up for depicting non western places you should be up for a more diverse cast. Princess Kaguya’s dub didn’t feature an all asian cast but at least they had Asian actors in roles, things need to change otherwise there will never be greater diversity in Hollywood.George takei’s inclusion seems a bit token to me, where are the young actors?

    • gjasper

      actually, half the cast is asian

      • Mark0polo

        ..And which of those Asian cast are in a prominent role? I see Rooney Mara( fresh off the back of playing native american Tiger Lilly in Pan, Charlize Theron,Matthew McConaughey,Ralph Fiennes with the lead role of Kubo being played by Art Parkinson. I’m guessing they’re playing prominent roles given there star status, with the asian stars given smaller roles. I would love to be proven wrong but why not give Kubo to an Asian actor considering the star is largely unknown. Whitewashing has to stop, its not ok to borrow from other cultures and then pretend its ok to have Caucasian people playing non white roles. You will never have a greater diversity in Hollywood if this practice continues on.

  • Johnny Marques

    That looks absolutely wonderful. While their movies have their imperfections here and there, Laika is easily the most intriguing american animation studio out there. I only wish for them to keep doing what they’re doing and exploring new ways of telling stories.

  • Just Some Guy…

    Actually I think you may have Neil Gaiman to thank for Coraline. ;)

  • Rae

    ……Matthew McConaughey….?

  • Mark0polo

    You seem very keen on telling me what I might be saying, perhaps to control the discussion? don’t be insecure, lets just try focus on what i’m actually saying. Kubo is voiced by an unknown, why not give it to an Asian american voice actor? Mulan is not perfect but at least its lead is voiced by an Asian american. Pixar did that for Up, Disney has also been casting voice actors appropriate for the roles in its movies. If a film is using Asian characters, use Asian voice talent and thats the same for any ethnicity. Kubo And The Two strings is a big budget film so theres no excuse, if you can borrow from other peoples cultures you can borrow from their pool of acting talent. Disney cast a Polynesian girl for Moana which is great and other studios are making sensible casting choices too. Relax calm down no one is taking anyone’s jobs, its just about common sense in casting. Theres nothing to fear from common sense.