Laika burst onto the scene with 2009’s Coraline, a critically acclaimed dark fantasy film that heralded the start of an innovative new stop-motion animated studio. Over the past 12 years, Laika has released four more feature films, all of them critical darlings but only a few of them box office hits. Stop-motion animation is a difficult, tedious business that requires animators to put in hours of work for a few seconds of footage. To see that Laika’s hard work go unrewarded (their most recent film Missing Link made only $26.2 million against a $102.3 million budget) over the years has been slightly heartbreaking. But Laika is not done yet/ In fact, they’re making their biggest expansion ever…into live-action.
The Oregon-based animation studio behind movies like Coraline, ParaNorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings is making its first-ever live-action movie, Collider reports. The first Laika live-action movie is an action thriller called Seventeen, based on author and screenwriter John Brownlow‘s upcoming first novel. Laika has secured the rights to Seventeen following an “intense” bidding war, per the studio, which plans to make Seventeen its sixth feature.
Laika CEO Travis Knight, who himself made the crossover into live-action by directing the (surprisingly good) Transformers prequel Bumblebee, announced Laika’s expansion into live-action following the studio’s recent celebration of its 15th birthday (it was founded in July 2005), saying, “For the past 15 years, LAIKA has been committed to making movies that matter. Across mediums and genres, our studio has fused art, craft, and technology in service of bold, distinctive, and enduring stories. With Seventeen, LAIKA is taking that philosophy in an exciting new direction.”
It’s unclear whether Laika will continue to make stop-motion movies or whether this is a hard pivot toward live-action for the studio, whose Oregon studio was on the cutting edge of merging the traditional art of stop-motion with new technology like 3D printing and computer animation. Laika was one of the many studios hit hard by COVID-19, and optimistically, this shift to live-action may be a way for the company to fund its next stop-motion venture.
So what of Laika’s first live-action movie? It appears to be a straightforward action thriller, none of that hybrid stuff, which Knight describes as a “thriller with soul.” Knight said:
“Seventeen is a stiff cocktail of wicked wit, exhilarating action, and raw emotion. John has such a wonderfully unique voice. He’s crafted a brilliant universe with its own powerful identity. Seventeen is a thriller with soul, a sinuous adrenaline-fueled actioner with a sincere heart beating underneath its rippling pectorals.”
Added Brownlow, who is perhaps best known as the writer of the 2003 Gwyneth Paltrow feature Sylvia, “I am absolutely thrilled to be developing Seventeen for the screen with LAIKA. As a long-time fan of LAIKA’s movies for their vision, heart, craft, intelligence and ambition, I couldn’t have hoped for the novel or the universe it inhabits to have found a better or more exciting home. I’m beyond honored to be part of their plans for the future.”
Seventeen is still in the early stages of production, with no official release date set.
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