I really want Laika to be the next Pixar. I know that is such a bold statement to make, especially after only one movie. But I feel like the animation studio possesses all the ingredients. Their first feature film, the groundbreaking 3D stop-motion animated film Coraline, was not only critically acclaimed, but also a financial success. The 3D stop-motion animation company has already built up some powerful brand recognition in the world of animation. Like Pixar, the company operates out of the Hollywood system, based in Oregon, far away from the LA smog.
When I think Laika, I think hand crafted, and I also think of Henry Selick, the animation director who was behind Coraline, and to me was as much a part of the company as John Lasseter was to the early days of Pixar. So it was very surprising to learn that Selick has decided to leave Laika.
Apparently the filmmaker’s contract was up, and according to Variety, Selick had become frustrated waiting for another feature to oversee, and decided to move on because Laika wasn’t presenting any interesting options. Selick was not only a filmmaker working for the Portland-based animation studio, but also Laika’s supervising director for feature film development. He had been with the company for five years.
Laika recently cut their computer animation division (128 employees), deciding to focus strictly on stop-motion animation for future projects. Selick is probably the biggest working American director today associated with the art of stop-motion animation. Selick’s filmography also includes The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, Monkeybone, and stop-motion animated segments of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic.
Laika is expected to choose and announce their next project as early as this month. The studio currently employs around 180, but is expected to add a couple hundred when production ramps up. You can read more about Selick’s departure on OregonLive.