Fans wanting to learn more about Kubo’s epic quest, the friends joining him on his journey, and the monsters that stand in his way can get sneak peeks through his Instagram account at @Kubothemovie
Story: An epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA. 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), Akihiro (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee 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 (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner 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 (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.
Director: Travis Knight
Writers: Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (“ParaNorman”)
Voice Cast: Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro
Acclaimed Animation Studio Behind Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and
2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings Celebrates A Decade of Achievement;
President and CEO Travis Knight Renews Pledge to Push Animated Art Form Beyond Expectations
[Portland, OR; DECEMBER 15, 2015] – LAIKA, the award-winning animation studio nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, celebrates 10 years of bold and memorable filmmaking this month. For a company whose name means “little barker” in Russian, Portland, Oregon-based LAIKA has made quite a noise in the global film industry over a relatively short time. With its world-class filmmaking team, LAIKA pushes the boundaries of family entertainment and animated movies, redefining what stories can and should be told through the art form.
“When LAIKA began we had a simple goal: to make movies that matter,” says Travis Knight, LAIKA’s President and CEO, who also is lead animator and a producer on its films. “LAIKA is devoted to telling new and original stories in new and original ways.”
“We aspire to make films that are bold, distinctive, and enduring,” Knight continues. “We are committed to telling stories that are thematically challenging, aesthetically beautiful, emotionally resonant, and a wee bit subversive. By combining stop-motion animation with cutting-edge creative approaches, we’ve embraced the fusion of art and craft and technology, honoring tradition while looking toward the future. We invented new systems and technologies for liberating the camera, to make our films more cinematic. We created new techniques for building and animating our puppets, to make our characters more lifelike and to connect more immediately and intimately with audiences. We discovered new processes for integrating practical and digital visual effects, to make our worlds more authentic. But we’re never satisfied. There’s an inherent restlessness at LAIKA. We always want to challenge ourselves.”
LAIKA began its unconventional cinematic journey with Coraline in 2009, continuing with ParaNorman in 2012 and The Boxtrolls in 2014. All three films featured LAIKA’s unique and innovative 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid technique. LAIKA’s original distribution partners, Focus Features and Universal Pictures International, remain the studio’s collaborators to this day. “We have the bravest distributors in the world,” says Knight. “They are lionhearted souls who took a chance on a ragged band of misfits from Oregon. Together, we share an abiding love for original stories and inventive storytelling.”
In addition to numerous critics’ awards and multiple Annie Awards (the animation community’s Oscars equivalent), all three of LAIKA’s feature films have been nominated for Academy Awards, BAFTA, and PGA Awards. The Boxtrolls also received a Golden Globe nomination; ParaNorman was cited as the year’s best animated feature by more critics’ groups than any other film in 2012, and Coraline was named one of the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Films of the year. “These last ten years have been magical,” says Knight. “But as I look forward, I’m more excited for what the future holds. We’re just getting warmed up.”
Knight, who makes his directorial debut with LAIKA’s next film, Kubo and the Two Strings (release date: August 19, 2016) adds, “Stripping everything else away, we’re simple storytellers. We’re the heirs of flamboyant stage magicians, plainspoken raconteurs spinning yarns around a campfire, and knuckle-dragging troglodytes scrawling stick figures on a cave wall. We believe telling stories is one of the prime functions of the human mind and spirit. A good story can elicit empathy, opening us up to new possibilities, to new ways of thinking, to recognizing the shared humanity in which we all participate. And, in the end, that’s ultimately LAIKA’s reason for being.”
Coraline (Release Date: February 6, 2009) Combining the visionary imaginations of two premier fantasists, director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and author Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Coraline is a wondrous and thrilling, fun and suspenseful adventure and the first stop motion film ever to be conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3-D, unlike anything moviegoers had ever experienced before. In Coraline, a young girl walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life – only much better. But when this wondrously off-kilter, fantastical adventure turns dangerous and her counterfeit parents try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home and save her family.
Voice Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr., and Ian McShane. Produced by Bill Mechanic, Claire Jennings, Henry Selick, Mary Sandell. Based on the book by Neil Gaiman. Written for the Screen and Directed by Henry Selick.
ParaNorman (Release Date: August 17, 2012)
In the comedy thriller, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman, who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul-whisperer bravely summons up all that makes a hero – courage and compassion – as he finds his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.
Voice Cast:Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein, and John Goodman. Produced by Arianne Sutner, Travis Knight. Written by Chris Butler. Directed by Sam Fell, Chris Butler.
The Boxtrolls (Release Date: September 26, 2014)
This comedic fable 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 since infancy as one of their dumpster-diving and mechanical junk-collecting own. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by villainous pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher, 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 to bridge two worlds amidst the winds of change – and cheese.
Voice Cast: Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, and Simon Pegg. Produced by David Bleiman Ichioka, Travis Knight. Screenplay by Irena Brignull, Adam Pava. Based on the book Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow. Directed by Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable.
Kubo and the Two Strings (Release date: August 19, 2016)
Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA, the film follows 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 (Academy Award nominee 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 (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner 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 (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara) to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family and fulfill his heroic destiny.
Voice Cast: Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Art Parkinson, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro. Screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler. Produced by Arianne Sutner, Travis Knight. Directed by Travis Knight.
Laika’s latest film looks to be pretty cool! Looking forward to it!
Synopsis: Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA.
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 (Academy Award nominee 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 (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner 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 (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara) to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family and fulfill his heroic destiny.
Director: Travis Knight
Writers: Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (“ParaNorman”)
Voice Cast: Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro
There’s something magical about stop motion animation. All forms of animation and fascinating in their own ways but to me stop motion is something special. It’s a process whereby actual puppets magically spring to life on film through the grueling frame by frame work of animation wizards and among those magicians no one does it better than Laika.
Last night, Animation Insider was proud to have been invited to the Laika auction at Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills where we saw a great many amazing pieces of art which ranged from storyboards, development art, and actual sets and props to maquettes and fully articulated painted puppets that were actually used in the films Coraline, ParaNorman, and the Boxtrolls. Laika uses a process whereby they sculpt models with 3d software and then print them out on 3d printers so they can swap out multiple faces for different expressions. A laborious task to say the least.
A Focus Features rep (the distribution company for the animation house) was on hand giving a bit of details on the process and he told me that Laika used a new type of 3d printer for Boxtrolls and it’s pretty clear as you look closely at these newer puppets. It’s also very clear to see that they’ve learned a tremendous amount over the course of the three films because the level of detail on the Boxtrolls puppets is far greater than Coraline and ParaNorman and if you look closely you can see seams on the faces of the earlier film’s puppets but on the Boxtrolls ones, there were none at all that were visible. Still, all the puppets were beautiful in their own ways. The level of detail they put in their puppets and sets is astounding, and to think that the puppets are poseable is hard to believe. When you look closely you can see that the later models even have tiny eyelids that slide down over the eyeball, an engineering feat that baffles me. The cars all had working steering mechanisms and the headlights all turned on as well.
My favorite by far was the Boxtroll villain Snatcher played by Ben Kingsley. This beautifully sculpted puppet stood about two and half feet tall and when you consider it’s size it’s even more amazing that it can stand. It was painted with such detail that you could see the wrinkles on his fingers, (all bendable mind you) and even the shine on his nails. The auction runs until tomorrow so if you’re in the L.A. area it’s totally work visiting.
Heritage Auctions Beverly Hills
9478 West Olympic Avenue, Beverly Hills, CA
The Art of LAIKA Offered For First Time By Heritage Auctions
Production Puppets, Models, Props and Original Handmade Art from Oscar®-Nominated Animation Studio to Be Auctioned on February 12, 2015; Portion of Proceeds to Benefit The Art of Elysium Non-Profit Arts Group
[Portland, OR and Beverly Hills, CA; January 6, 2015] – LAIKA, the visionary animationstudio behind the Golden Globe and Annie Award-nominated The Boxtrolls and the BAFTA and Academy Award-nominated Coraline and ParaNorman, will open its archives for the first time for a limited auction of over 250 puppets, models, props and art in The Art of LAIKA, to be held by Heritage Auctions on Thursday, February 12, 2015, in Beverly Hills.
A portion of the proceeds of the auction will be donated to The Art of Elysium, a non-profit arts organization that works to make art a catalyst for social change by bringing creativity and inspiration to children, artists, and various populations in need.
“LAIKA is known for its artistry and revolutionary stop-motion animation techniques,” says Jim Lentz, Heritage Auctions’ Director of Animation Art. “The studio’s legions of die-hard fans regularly ask LAIKA for the opportunity to own some of the masterfully engineered puppets, props and other artwork used to make these beloved films. So the studio is finally offering a specially curated collection of items from its production archives. This is the chance that those fans, and animation and film collectors of all stripes, have been waiting for.”
“LAIKA’s films aim to promote thought, feeling, and connectivity through art, inspired by our shared humanity,” says Travis Knight, President & CEO of the studio and an Annie-Award-winning animator and producer. “We’re deeply gratified that the spirit of our work has resonated so strongly with audiences around the world. LAIKA’s artists and craftspeople are consummate creators, and each piece of this collection is a testament to their talents and imagination. These are beautiful, unique, and handcrafted works of art of the highest order. We’re so pleased to open up our vaults for animation fans around the world and to support The Art of Elysium, whose mission is so close to our hearts.”
Selected highlights from The Art of LAIKA will be on display in Dallas, Jan. 27-29, at Heritage Auctions (3500 Maple Avenue, Dallas, TX, 75219); Feb. 3-5 at Heritage Auctions Park Avenue (445 Park Avenue at 57th Street); and Feb. 9-12, Heritage Auctions Beverly Hills (9478 West Olympic Avenue).
Some of the items in the auction include, but are not limited to:
* Coraline production puppet in her iconic blue-starred sweater
* The Cat production puppet
* Other Mother production puppet in her elaborately realized black dress
* Norman production puppet in his baseball shirt outfit
* Zombie Judge production puppet with fully articulated mouth and face
*Intricate large-scale production props such as Mitch’s Van and “Zombie Attack”
*Original hand-drawn Annie Award-winning character designs
From The Boxtrolls
* Eggs and Boxtrolls production puppets complete with their “Box” outfits
* Snatcher production puppet in his exquisite hand and laser-etched velvet jacket
* Snatcher’s Mecha-Drill, at over five feet, the largest prop ever created for a stop-motion film
Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $900 million, and 850,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com. Want to get the up-to-the-minute updates and breaking news stories about Heritage Auctions? Get them as they happen at: HA.com/Twitter; Facebook: HA.com/Facebook. To view a complete archive of Heritage press releases go to: HA.com/PR. To link to this press release on your blog or Website: www.HA.com/PR-2222.
Fueled by the vision of its owner, Nike co-founder and Chairman Philip H. Knight, and its President & CEO Travis Knight, LAIKA (www.laika.com) is a Portland-Oregon based animation studio specializing in feature films. Celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2015, LAIKA has begun production on its fourth film, Kubo and the Two Strings, being directed by Mr. Knight and set for release by Focus Features on August 19, 2016. A sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan, Kubo boasts a voice cast led by Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey; Academy Award nominees Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, and Brenda Vaccaro, and Art Parkinson, who plays Rickon Stark on Game of Thrones, as Kubo.
Also released by Focus Features, LAIKA’s current film The Boxtrolls has earned Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations for Best Animated Film and 13 Annie Award (the animation community’s Oscar equivalent) nominations, the most of any animated film this year. The company’s first feature, Coraline (2009), earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, PGA, 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). ParaNorman (2012) garnered BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, GLAAD Media Award, PGA, and Academy Award nominations, won two Annies and was cited as the year’s best animated film by 14 critics’ groups.
About Focus Features
Focus Features (www.focusfeatures.com) makes, acquires, and releases movies from rising and established talent and filmmakers. The company is moving forward with a diverse slate of wide releases appealing to a range of moviegoers. Staying true to the company’s roots, the slate will also include several specialty films each year.
In addition to the Golden Globe and Annie Award-nominated The Boxtrolls, current and upcoming releases from Focus include The Theory of Everything, nominated for 3 Screen Actors Guild Awards and 4 Golden Globe Awards including Best Picture; Black Sea, the suspenseful adventure thriller starring Jude Law for director Kevin Macdonald; the romantic drama A Little Chaos, directed by Alan Rickman and starring Kate Winslet; Leigh Whannell’s Insidious: Chapter 3, the newest chapter in the terrifying horror series; Tarsem Singh’s Selfless, starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley; Sinister 2, directed by Ciaran Foy; London Has Fallen, the sequel to the worldwide smash hit Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler and directed by Babak Najafi; Juan Antonio Bayona’s visually spectacular drama A Monster Calls, starring Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, and Liam Neeson; and Stephen Hopkins’ Race, starring Jeremy Irons, Jason Sudeikis, and Stephan James as the legendary athletic superstar Jesse Owens.
Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.
Story: A family event movie from the creators of “Coraline” and “ParaNorman” that introduces audiences to a new breed of family – The Boxtrolls, a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley), comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls, Eggs decides to venture above ground, “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnifred (Elle Fanning). Together, they devise a daring plan to save Eggs’ family.
Directors: Anthony Staachi and Graham Annable
Writer: Based on the novel Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow
Voice Cast: Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan