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Laika Lays Off 65, Pulls Jack and Ben

Portland-based animation studio Laika has laid off 65 people and shelved its second CG film JACK AND BEN'S ANIMATED ADVENTURE, according to THE OREGONIAN.

Laika is owned by Nike founder Phil Knight, and is releasing their first film, 3-D stop-motion feature CORALINE on February 6.

JACK AND BEN was slated to come out after CORALINE, but the film's writer, former Pixar animator Jorgen Klubien left the studio over "creative differences" last year. Laika hired MULAN director Barry Cook to direct JACK AND BEN, and was moving forward with the project.

A studio spokeswoman told THE OREGONIAN that Laika has decided to shelve the film and push ahead on other projects, and expects to have a series of announcements to that effect after the first of the year.

The company will be left with 280 employees, and their advertising division will not be affected. Knight bought financially-strapped Will Vinton Studios in 2003 and renamed it in 2005. His son, Travis, worked as an animator before the change, and is now an executive there.

Directed by Henry Selick (THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS) and based on Neil Gaiman's novella, CORALINE opens Feb. 6, 2009 from Focus Features. It's a Grimm-inspired fairy tale about a melancholy young girl who discovers a hidden passageway in an old house to an opposite world with voice work from Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher.

In June, Laika announced their long-term slate, which included JACK AND BEN, and two other projects: HERE BE MONSTERS! and PARANORMAN.