Laika's Next Stop-Motion Animated Film Is Wildwood, Travis Knight Returning To Direct

Laika, the studio behind stop-motion gems like "Coraline" and "Kubo and the Two Strings is getting back into the animation game! In all fairness, they never really left it, but following the announcement of their first live-action film and the devastating impact of pandemic shutdowns, fans worried about whether the studio would follow up 2019's "Missing Link." Thankfully, Laika has a new project lined up — and they didn't even have to look very far to find it.

Laika's next animated feature will be an adaptation of the bestselling novel "Wildwood," penned by The Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy. Laika has shown interest in adapting his series before, dating back to 2011 when they first optioned the book. Meloy previously said:

"Hands down, there is no other movie studio in the world besides Laika that I would entrust 'Wildwood' to."

The dream is finally coming true. "Wildwood" will be directed by Laika CEO and "Kubo and the Two Strings" director, Travis Knight. Penned by "Missing Link" screenwriter Chris Butler, the story takes viewers to beyond Portland's city limits, to Wildwood, where main character Prue McKeel embarks on a wondrous journey to rescue her baby brother from a murder of crows. Here's the synopsis for the Meloy's novel:

"Beyond Portland's city limits lies Wildwood. You're not supposed to go there. You're not even supposed to know it exists. But Prue McKeel is about to enter this enchanted wonderland. Her baby brother Mac has been taken by a murder of crows into the forest's depths, and she — along with her hapless classmate Curtis — is going to get him back. Prue might think she's too old for fairytales, but she's just found herself at the center of one. One filled with strange talking animals, roguish bandits, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions."

News of "Wildwood" comes on the heels of Laika's pivot to live-action movies. Also in the works at the studio is the action-thriller "Seventeen," based on screenwriter John Brownlow's ("The Minaturist," "Sylvia") debut novel of the same name. Knight has described this project as "a thriller with soul [and] a sinuous adrenaline-fueled actioner with a sincere heart beating underneath its rippling pectorals."

Wildwood ... and More?

This adaptation of "Wildwood" follows through on a project that's been of interest to the studio for many years now. Laika acquired the rights to the film over a decade ago, when the fantasy epic was fairly daunting. Back in 2011, Knight told Variety:

"It's a story in the grand tradition of Tolkien, as big as 'Lord of the Rings' with a wonderful contemporary quality as well. Nothing of its kind has been attempted in our medium. You have these epic scenes alongside very nuanced character moments, which are the two hardest things to do in stop-motion. It's exciting to imagine how this might all come together."

Since then, the studio has put plenty more impressive titles until its belt, including the epic fantasy "Kubo and the Two Strings." Also, while the studio has always resisted the idea of sequels, Laika planned to adapt all three parts of the Wildwood trilogy. Whether that plan is still on the table has yet to be announced. So far, we do have a small glimpse at what's to come — concept art for the film, which will be Laika's sixth stop-motion feature film, is below.

No official release date for "Wildwood" has been revealed.