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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Henry Selick Leaves Laika.

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 4:25 PM

selick.jpg

Remember when local animation studio Laika made Coraline, and it came out, and everybody liked it, and it made some money, and it seemed like really good things were going to keep coming out of Laika? And then remember how there was, weirdly, no word from Laika about their next project?

If I recall correctly, the most that anyone involved with Laika ever said about possible follow-up projects was what Coraline director Henry Selick said way back in an interview that occurred around the time of Coraline's release:

As for what comes next for Selick, he'll continue to be associated with at least one forthcoming project at Laika, though he won't be directing. He's on board to help out with Paranorman, an upcoming project helmed by Chris Butler, Selick's lead story artist on Coraline. Selick's summary of Butler's Paranorman makes me want to see it pretty much immediately: "A sweet comedy about a boy who communes with his dead grandma and ends up having to face down an army of angry zombies.”

Selick characterizes Paranorman as "another good project from Laika that stands out from the pack"—which is a pretty accurate description of Coraline, too. "Laika just happens to be a place that seems to understand you can’t play Follow the Leader," Selick says. "No one can imitate Pixar of DreamWorks and hope to win, especially when you’re trying to do films for much less money. You have to strike out, take some chances."

Assuming Laika does continue to take some chances, they'll be doing so not only without 52 of their workers (the Willamette Week reported on those layoffs last month), but also without Selick. From the Oregonian, via Dark Horizons:

Travis Knight, President and CEO of Portland, Oregon-based animation studio Laika, Inc., has announced that director Henry Selick has departed the company following the expiration of his contract.

That's certainly disappointing news, though it's not particularly surprising—between the layoffs and the lack of any official announcements about new projects, it appears that Laika's either stalled or stalling, despite Coraline's success. Still, there were a lot of talented people who made Coraline; even accounting for the layoffs and Selick's departure, I imagine some of those people still must be employed by Laika in one capacity or another. Hopefully they'll get to work on a worthy follow-up to Coraline soon—if Coraline turns out to be the last feature we see from Laika, well, that'd be pretty shitty.

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