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LAIKA Announces ‘Wildwood’ as Next Animated Feature

Currently in production with studio CEO Travis Knight directing, film tells a tale of love, loss, sacrifice, and secrets set in an enchanted forest beyond Portland’s city limits.

We finally get the news from just outside Portland we’ve been waiting for: LAIKA’s next animated feature film, helmed by studio president and CEO Travis Knight, is called Wildwood.

Based on the bestselling novel by Colin Meloy, lead singer and songwriter for The Decemberists, and illustrated by artist Carson Ellis, the film is currently in production at the studio.  

“As a deep-dyed native son of Oregon, I have rainwater, microbrew, and fair-trade coffee coursing through my veins,” said Knight, the BAFTA-winning director of LAIKA’s Kubo and the Two Strings and the live-action hit, Bumblebee. “With Wildwood, I have the opportunity to tell a madly ambitious story of magic, wonder, and danger set in the place I grew up. My very own Portland will join that pantheon of unforgettable fantasy realms, with a stirring epic that will kindle imaginations, lift spirits, and break hearts.”

“Colin and Carson’s novel is a lyrical work of art,” Knight continued. “The entire LAIKA family is fully committed to honoring it with a film of breathtaking spectacle and aching beauty. I can’t wait to share it with the world. Although we’re doing this in stop-motion, so, you know, I’ll have to.”

In describing the film, the studio shares, “Beyond Portland’s city limits lies Wildwood. You’re not supposed to go there.  You’re not even supposed to know it exists. But Prue McKeel is about to enter this enchanted wonderland. Her baby brother Mac has been taken by a murder of crows into the forest's depths, and she – along with her hapless classmate Curtis – is going to get him back. Prue might think she’s too old for fairytales, but she’s just found herself at the center of one. One filled with strange talking animals, roguish bandits, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions.” 

Wildwood,” they added, “is a tale of love, loss, sacrifice and secrets, and of the magic you can find on your doorstep, if you’re willing to look for it.”

Wildwood will be the first fully animated feature film lensed by multiple Oscar and BAFTA nominee, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. Arianne Sutner will produce, with Chris Butler writing the screenplay; both won Golden Globe awards for the studio’s last film, Missing Link.  Each of the studio’s five films - Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls (2014), Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) and Missing Link (2019) - were nominated for the Academy Award for Outstanding Animated Feature. Recently, the studio announced its first live-action feature film based on the action thriller novel “Seventeen” by screenwriter John Brownlow. 

Source: LAIKA

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.