Home Archives April 2009 Laika's next level

Laika's next level

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
TravisKnight Laika CEO Travis Knight on the set of Coraline.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAIKA

Travis Knight solidified his reputation as an animator with his work on Coraline, the debut box office hit from Portland animation studio Laika Inc., owned by his father, Nike founder Phil Knight. Now, as Laika’s newly named CEO, his first order of business is choosing the company’s follow-up film and seeking out a Hollywood studio partner that will help solidify Laika’s reputation as a rising star in animation.

Knight, who served as lead animator on Coraline, replaces Dale Wahl, who is retiring. Wahl will stay on board through October, acting as head of finance and operations until Laika finds someone for that role. Claire Jennings, producer of Coraline and Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, takes on the new position of president.

Knight acknowledges he comes to the role with a different perspective and background than Wahl, who he calls a “corporate and finance guy through and through.”

“What I represent is something entirely different,” he says. “This is a business about creating art. We’re making works of art. In me you have someone where that’s my background. I’ve been in the trenches producing. The creative process I understand to the core. I bring that sensibility to the leadership of the company.”

coraline Below, a scene from Coraline, on which Knight was lead animator.

Knight, 35, isn’t planning any major changes in the company’s direction or development slate, which he’s been involved with as a Laika board member and head of animation.

Laika has yet to identify its next film after scrapping Jack and Ben’s Animated Adventure in December. Among the eight in development are Here Be Monsters!, based on the bestselling book about a 12-year-old boy who lives underground in 1850s London, and Paranorman, an original idea from Laika story chief Chris Butler about a cursed small town that can only be saved by a 13-year-old boy.

Knight says Laika will continue pursuing films that set it apart from other animation companies and is looking for Hollywood studio distributors and partners in line with that philosophy. “The business has to be profitable,” he says. “In my mind, doing something innovative is the way to get there.”

Laika’s boldness paid off on Coraline, which has grossed more than $70 million in theaters. The film was distributed by Focus Features but was completely financed by Phil Knight when other potential partners balked at a scary children’s movie. Travis Knight won’t talk about potential finance partnerships for upcoming projects.

With Coraline complete and Jack and Ben off, Laika has shrunk its ranks down to around 300, but Knight says it will be hiring again once its next project goes into production. The nature of the film business, with the continual beginning and end of each new project, means that Laika’s ranks will continue to ebb and flow, he says. For Coraline, Laika brought in animators from around the world, but it also employed local talent.

Plans for a state-of-the-art 30-acre Laika campus in Tualatin are on hold until it gets other business fundamentals in place, he says.

Knight won’t be able to be as deeply involved in animating future projects as he was on Coraline, given his new role as a “neophyte captain of industry,” but, he says, “I made a commitment to myself that I can’t ever lose that direct connection with the work.”

JENNIFER NETHERBY

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Comments   

 
diego
0 #1 create moviediego 2011-09-17 12:33:53
contest please
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Powerlist: Credit Unions

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation about credit unions with the CEOs of Advantis Credit Union and OSU Federal Credit Union, followed by June's Powerlist.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014

The CEO of Axiom EPM, Peri Pierone, and the co-founder of McMenamins, Mike McMenamin, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Downtime with Doug Gastich

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How the president of BlueVolt spends his free time.


Read more...

Moving the needle

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014

I was in a rut. A few months ago, I was at my desk trying to come up with cover story ideas for our June “green” issue.  But I was stuck on a concept that is a bit too tried and true in the magazine business.


Read more...

Hipsters gone wild

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY JON BELL

A new generation of outdoor apparel companies targets the young and the urban.


Read more...

Charged ride

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
0614launchBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Brad Baker, CEO and co-founder of Works Electric, is a good husband. His wife, an OHSU employee, sought a more efficient way to commute up Marquam “Pill” Hill, so she asked Baker to build a transportation solution.


Read more...

Interview: Dr. Mark Goulston

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 10, 2014
JustListenBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS