Why You Shouldn’t Expect Any Sequels From Laika

Kubo pic

Laika is about to unveil their fourth feature film to the world. Their latest adventure, Kubo and the Two Strings, is, like Coraline and ParaNorman, a self-contained story. Travis Knight‘s film doesn’t leave the door open for a sequel. In the hands of another studio, maybe it would, but Knight, who’s also the CEO & President of Laika, has no interest in attempting to launch a franchise with Kubo and the Two Strings — or any of Laika’s other movies.

Below, find out why you shouldn’t expect to see any Laika sequels.

Knight makes his feature directorial debut with Kubo and the Two Strings, which he somehow managed to make while running the company and serving on the board of directors of Nike. Last week, when we spoke with Knight, we mentioned to him that it doesn’t seem like Laika is too invested in making sequels. There’s a reason for that: Laika is adamant about creating new characters and worlds instead of revisiting old ones.

That’s actually not the only reason why Knight doesn’t want to pursue sequels. His response to sequels was candid and refreshing, so we decided to share his entire answer. Here’s why Travis Knight doesn’t want Laika to be in the business of sequels:

There is a discussion about it, and there’s a quick discussion about it, which is that we’re not going to do it. I am not even remotely interested in making sequels. I can appreciate from a business perspective why it’s a necessity, I get why companies do it. I certainly understand that those things can be good for the bottom line, once you develop franchises and brands, that can be great for the business. I’m not a Pollyanna, I understand that show business is both show and business, it’s art and commerce, so finding that elusive balance of merging those things together can be a trick.

I think, as an industry, we swing the pendulum way too far into one direction, and it’s taken away from what’s so beautiful about going to the movies. I remember when I was a kid, being in this incredible darkened room with a group full of strangers and looking at this flickering image on the screen and being transported to another world, something I’d never experienced before. That was magic, that was an amazing thing. I loved it. Those were formative experiences for me, really took a residence in my brain, in my heart, and they helped shape who I became.

I think when you see so much of modern cinema, which is franchises and brands and reboots and remakes and sequels and prequels, where we’re dusting off all this old IP and trying to bring it back and taking all these old presents and rewrapping them and offering them as new gifts, there’s little joy in discovery and there’s little opportunity for finding different aspects of what it means to be human when we’re telling the same stories over and over again.

Look, I talk heck about sequels because I hate them, but that’s not to say that you can’t tell a beautiful story in a sequel. Of course you can, and some of the best films that have ever been made are sequels. There’s Godfather 2, The Empire Strikes Back, and on and on and on. Of course there are things like Lord of the Rings which are such big and expansive tales you could never tell that in one film, it’s part of a continuum of a larger overall story.

There are definitely reasons to do it artistically that aren’t driven by finance, but I think generally, by and large, most sequels are a cash grab, and I think audiences pick up on that. It doesn’t stop them from doing enormously well, but I think in the fullness of time, I think the pendulum will slip in the other direction. I think there are people who want new experiences, who want to go to the movies to see stories about who they are, which we don’t really do anymore.

At Laika, we love new challenges and we love to challenge ourselves, and we’re excited by that. We love to tell new stories, we love to explore new genres, we love to examine different aspects of what it means to be human. That’s the core of what drives us, the kinds of films that we make and to make movies that matter. The way we approach our protagonists in our movies is that we really look at these films as the most meaningful experience of our protagonist’s life. If you’re going to tell a story like that, then automatically, whatever your sequel is will be a diminishment of that.

We’re just not interested in going back and treading over the same ground that we’ve already done. There’s so many different stories that I want to tell, why would I want to tell something which is essentially a regurgitation of something that we’ve already done?

I basically want to hit every genre in film before I die. Particularly the way we make films, which take forever, we… We only have so much time on this planet; that means let’s put our energy and recourses into something new and exciting, and that’s really what we try to do at the studio, to tell new and original stories. In our modern world, I can appreciate that’s a rarity, but it hasn’t been historically, and I think that the richenss of cinema is being taken into new worlds.

Years ago, Knight said he didn’t want Laika to become an echo chamber, where they make a sequel, then another sequel, and then hit the reboot button a few years later and churn out more sequels. In a business where that happens often, it’s refreshing to see a company, CEO, and storyteller so opposed to the strategy. In a sea of sequels and reboots, especially this time of year, the more original stories we see, like Kubo and the Two Strings, the better.

Kubo and the Two Strings opens in theaters August 19th.

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