Laika has been one of the leading forces in modern animation. This stop-motion studio based in Oregon has produced four critically acclaimed and financially successful pictures.
Laika did do contractual work on 2005’s “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride”, but they did not do the animation for the film. They’re listed as part of the making of the movie but didn’t actually, physically, bring it to life. It’s like when people think that Burton directed “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” – when in fact he did not.
Henry Selick was the director of “Nightmare”. And he also directed Laika’s first official feature, 2009’s “Coraline”. Global Box Office totaled $125 million, and the film earned Oscar, Critics Choice and BAFTA Best Animated Feature nominations.
Next was 2012’s “ParaNorman”, which grossed $107 million globally and also received Oscar, Critics Choice and BAFTA Best Animated Feature nominations.
Then came 2014’s “The Boxtrolls”, which earned $109 million worldwide. It also picked-up Oscar, Critics Choice and BAFTA Best Animated Feature nominations. You get the pattern?
And 2016’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” brought in a respectable $70 million worldwide, while nabbing Oscar and Critics Choice nominations… and a BAFTA Best Animated Film win. Director and Laika CEO Travis Knight was thrilled to accept the honor.
Those four films were distributed by Focus Features. But for their latest, “Missing Link” (out next week), Laika turned to Annapurna. The studio, which earned Academy Awards for “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Vice” this year, has been struggling financially. United Artists has been resurrected to clean things up and help with distribution.
I’d say the marketing has been solid: getting big names like Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Zach Galifianakis mentioned and featured on the promos and commercials. The trailers make “Missing Link” out to potentially be the most comedic-driven Laika effort yet.
It’s already been a crowded year for animation, with “The LEGO Movie 2”, “How to Train Your Dragon 3” and “Wonder Park”. And “Uglydolls” is out in just a month. I think “Missing Link” will capture families (especially over Spring Break), and hopefully it will be (rare for any studio) Laika’s fifth straight critical hit.