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.