Laika's next film

Laika, the animation studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and their most recent movie Kubo and the Two Strings, has teamed up with Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures for their untitled fifth film, currently being referred to as “Film Five.” Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, and Zach Galifianakis will star, and ParaNorman director Chris Butler is at the helm. Read more about Laika’s next film below.

“Bursting with humor, heart, and a profound message of acceptance and finding one’s place, the animation team at LAIKA is thrilled to be bringing this globetrotting comedy-adventure to life,” reads a new press release. But what will this new movie actually be like? Laika CEO Travis Knight, who directed Kubo and the Two Strings and moved into live-action filmmaking with this winter’s Transformers spin-off Bumblebee, says the new project “represents an evolutionary shift” for the studio:

“It’s an exciting bridge to our future. Director Chris Butler and the wizards at LAIKA have crafted a moving work of art, layered with wit and imagination and soul. Plus it’s really, really funny. It’s a privilege to partner with Megan and her exceptional team at Annapurna to bring this beautiful original story to the world.”

Since Kubo and the Two Strings underperformed at the box office, there were whispers that Laika might be in trouble. After all, they’ve never had a big hit on the level of their contemporaries in the animation world. But this partnership with Annapurna is a great sign for their future. Ellison’s company has become legendary for giving visionary filmmakers the resources they need to make movies other studios or production companies might balk at, so this team-up is good news for those of us who enjoy Laika’s passion for storytelling.

Personally, I’ve only really connected with two out of four of Laika’s movies (Kubo and Coraline). But even though I don’t love everything they’ve done, I can still see the significant value in keeping the animation studio open and operational; they’re one of the few places in town that are pushing the envelope and telling gorgeous stories using stop-motion techniques.

What is Laika’s Next Film About?

There are a few things we know about “Film Five” that don’t come from this press release. We know it’s not a sequel to any previous Laika movie because Knight explained his strong views about not making sequels to us a couple of years ago. And despite Knight expressing an interest a few years ago in making a hand-drawn 2D feature, it doesn’t seem likely that he’s done that here.

This interview with CartoonBrew from 2016 has some revealing information about the new movie. When asked where Laika was going next, Knight responded:

“Adulthood. [Kubo and the Two Strings] is a good bye in a number of different ways. The themes that it deals with – loss and grief. But it also deals with healing, compassion, forgiveness and empathy. And so, it is, effectively, the end of this first cycle of films that we’ve done at the studio. The things we’ve got coming are completely different. Our next film does not feature a child protagonist. I don’t even know that there are any children in it at all. I wouldn’t say it’s adult-oriented. But it’s a different kind of a film for us. It’s still intended for families, but it’s a different kind of a story.”

In 2016, Knight told us that he wants “to hit every genre in film before I die.” When asked if the new project was a genre film, like a science fiction story or a film noir tale, Knight told CartoonBrew:

“It’s a blend of things we haven’t really tackled before. We’ll probably announce before the end of the year. It’s really interesting aesthetically, tonally. Completely different from what we’ve done before. The thing that excites me is that I know that the handful of films we’ve got coming down the road and they’re so totally different from what we’ve done. The film following the next one, it’s just so unusual, so interesting.”

We’ll keep you posted with more information about “Film Five” (or whatever it ends up being called) as soon as we hear it.

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