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Hillsboro, Oregon-based stop-motion studio Laika has laid off 56 employees, a little over 15% of its 362-person staff, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the cause of its workforce reduction. The studio is responsible for well liked films including Missing Link, Kubo and the Two Strings, and Coraline.

A Laika rep told The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the news, that “with no end in sight to the pandemic, we have rolled off 56 of staff from our crew with the intention to hire them back at a future date when we can expand the number of people we can safely have in our buildings.”

While the studio is currently in pre-production on a yet-to-be-announced feature, the majority of its staff is working remotely. Laika president and CEO Travis Knight had told employees back in early April that everyone would be kept on payroll even while the studio remained closed. At the time he made the statement, he had expected the studio to stay closed until May 1st, however as of today, the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down in the United States, and it continues to infect millions of people every month while killing tens of thousands.

Stop-motion animation is more difficult to produce remotely than other types of animation, like cg or 2d animation, due to the necessity of building physical characters, costumes, props, and sets, and animators needing to work on physical sets with camera and lighting rigs.

Earlier this month, Laika celebrated its 15th anniversary. All five of its stop motion/cg hybrid films have been nominated for a best animated feature Oscar. Additionally, Kubo and the Two Strings won the BAFTA Award and scored a second Oscar nomination for visual effects, while earlier this year, Missing Link took home the Golden Globe Award.

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