Over a year ago Henry Selick, director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline, formed a new animation studio in San Francisco. At the time, he was said to be working on “great, scary films for young ‘uns with a small, tight-knit crew,” and the outfit was pulling together talent for its debut film. Selick had signed a deal with Disney in 2010, and when we first saw info on the studio there was word that it was affiliated with Disney.

The studio is called Cinderbiter, though there was a point where the name was reported to have been changed to Shademaker, which was also being thrown around as the working title of the company’s first feature. We don’t know what the title of this first feature will be, but we do know now that Disney will distribute the film. A few details are below.

The LA Times talked to Selick, who said the new film is untitled at this point, and has a very tentative 2013 release date. The film is an original story from Selick, who says,

It won’t come from totally left field… What I personally gravitate toward tends to be fantasy, medium dark — not too dark — fairy tales and sci fi. Stop-motion takes something on the page that’s really dark and adds a little sweetness to it, a living toys realm.

Selick went to CalArts with John Lasseter and Brad Bird, and consulted with Lasseter and other animators at Disney and Pixar while developing this script. He had access to the ‘Pixar brain trust’ for help in shaping this new film. He said the general lesson from that experience was,

Don’t get caught up in eye candy. They said, ‘Let’s try to make your story as clear as possible and give it as much heart as it deserves.’

Selick has become a defining director in the modern stage of stop-motion animation, and I’m very keen to see what his next effort turns out to be. With luck, we’ll get some details this year at Comic Con.

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