Ozark Creator Teaming Up With LAIKA For Stop-Motion Neo-Noir

What do "Ozark" and "Coraline" have in common? (Other than unsettling vibes and really strong aesthetics.) Their creative teams! Sort of. The legendary stop-motion animation studio Laika is gearing up for a collaboration with "Ozark" creator Bill Dubuque. The upcoming feature is a gritty folktale called "The Night Gardener," based on an original idea by Dubuque, who is set to pen the script.

Per Entertainment Weekly, Laika describes the film as "a gritty neo-noir folktale centered on a young man in rural Missouri fighting to keep his family together in the wake of a tragedy," that will "paint an unflinching portrait of sacrifice, self-reliance, and revenge." Take away the folktale bit and alter the setting and, hilariously, this description would be pretty close to Dubuque's latest project, "Ozark" which debuts its final season later this week. Given Dubuque's experience with gritty family dynamics, it's safe to say that "The Night Gardener" will delve into darkness, which isn't really a surprising prospect coming from the studio behind "Coraline" and "Kubo and the Two Strings." Both are very fun adventures with exceedingly dark themes.

Travis Knight, Laika CEO and the director behind "Kubo" and Paramount's live-action "Bumblebee," is set to direct "The Night Gardener." He had this to say of the upcoming projects:

"The Night Gardener is a beautiful and timeless story that quickens the pulse as often as it breaks the heart. Bill is a masterful storyteller. He's crafted a lyrical world layered with complex characters, provocative ideas, and keenly felt emotion. It's gonna be one helluva movie."

That's what we want to hear! As for Dubuque, he sings the studio's praises, adding:

"I'm delighted that Travis Knight saw in The Night Gardener a story worthy of the time-intensive process and collective talent of LAIKA's in-house artisans. LAIKA's creativity and dedication to detail is, in my opinion, as close as one can come to conjuring storytelling magic."

This announcement also came with our first look at the film, which you can see below.

The Night Gardener first look

A smoking bullet, blood splatters, and a bed of white flower petals? One helluva movie, alright. There was a moment — even before the pandemic — where Laika's dedicated fanbase had reason to worry, given the studio's difficult financial situation. Since COVID-19 shutdowns led to many studios shuttering their doors, those fears were exacerbated in the last few years — but it might finally be time to let them go. Laika is charging forward, stronger than ever, with three films currently in the works.

The studio is currently in production on another Knight-directed film, "Wildwood." Set to be Laika's sixth stop motion feature, the film adapts the best-selling novel of the same name, which journeys into a fantastical land beyond Portland's city limits where a young girl will find herself at the center of a fairy tale in an effort to rescue her baby brother from a murder of crows. That isn't all — Laika is also in the midst of branching out into the world of live-action with the action-thriller "Seventeen," based on screenwriter John Brownlow's ("The Miniaturist," "Sylvia") debut novel of the same name.