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

Downtime

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How State Representative Julie Parrish (House District 37) balances life between work and play.


Read more...

Updated: Disrupting innovation

News
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
070814 thumb disputive-innovationBY LINDA BAKER  | OB EDITOR

The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation  — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment. 

Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.


Read more...

Attack of the Robin Sages

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 07, 2014
070714 thumb linkedinfakesBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.


Read more...

Is this employee right?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
081314 thumb employeefeelingsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

Video: The 100 Best Survey

News
Thursday, August 28, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.


Read more...

The Alchemist

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

David Howitt explains why Portland consumer brands like Stumptown and Voodoo Doughnuts are taking the world by storm.


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