“Our next film represents an evolutionary shift for Laika, said Laika president and CEO Travis Knight. “It’s an exciting bridge to our future. Director Chris Butler and the wizards at Laika have crafted a moving work of art, layered with wit and imagination and soul. Plus it’s really, really funny.”
Notably, for this new film, Laika won’t be partnering with distributor Focus Features, which had released the first four Laika features. The companies had a three-picture distribution deal starting with Kubo and the Two Strings, and it remains unclear if the deal has been scrapped or what will happen with the two remaining films left on that deal.
The new distributor is Annapurna Pictures, the company founded by Megan Ellison, whose father, Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, has a net worth of $59 billion and currently ranks as the tenth-richest person in the world. It’s a fitting match for Laika: Travis Knight’s father is Nike co-founder Phil Knight, net worth $30 billion, and the 28th-richest person in the world.
The only animated feature that Annapurna has previously released is the R-rated Sausage Party, which grossed $140.7 million worldwide on a budget of around $20 million. The studio’s other notables include Detroit, Phantom Thread, American Hustle, Her, Zero Dark Thirty and Spring Breakers.
In addition to Butler’s work on Paranorman, he also has a screenwriting credit on Kubo and the Two Strings. He worked as a storyboard artist on Mr. Bean: The Animated Series, Corpse Bride, Tarzan 2, and The Tale of Despereaux, before joining Laika to become storyboard supervisor on Coraline.