Sponsored by Oregon Business

Laika plans next act after successful year

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Laika CEO Travis Knight was also lead animator on the Oscar-nominated Coraline.

Regardless of how Coraline fares at the Academy Awards, it has been a triumphant awards season for Laika, the plucky independent animation studio backed by Phil Knight and run by his son Travis.

Coraline followed up its Academy Award nomination for best animated feature in February with four awards from the International Animated Film Society. That’s quite a debut for a company that has wrestled with financial challenges and internal discontent.

Coraline opened to critical acclaim and surprisingly strong box office sales in February 2009, grossing more than $120 million globally. But the question of what comes next for Laika is as unanswered today as it was a year ago. Plans to build a $55 million, 30-acre campus in Tualatin with a Nike-style fitness center and a 300-seat theater remain on hold, and the studio has yet to commit to a follow-up feature. Rather than hiring talent to gear up for its second feature, Laika has cut jobs and parted ways with Coraline director Henry Selick.

Travis Knight, who took over as president and CEO last March, insists that it isn’t unusual for a small studio to move slowing following a successful debut. “Developing these projects takes time,” he says. “With Coraline, it took a good five years from when we first started working on the script and making the puppets. Even Pixar, as great as they are, took three years between their first two films. We’ll be right in there.”

Knight expects to announce Laika’s next feature film this spring and to hire “hundreds” of people to enter into full production. He says the success of Coraline raises the bar on expectations.

“Five years ago ... you had a lot of films about fuzzy woodland creatures and the usual pop culture jokes — a lot of crude, disposable formulas,” says Knight. “Coraline is an example of pushing on the edges of the form — not to see animation as a genre but as a medium to tell any type of story. That is going to define who we are moving forward: bold subject matter and innovative execution.”

That formula worked for Coraline. Whether it will work for Laika’s second act remains to be seen.


More Articles

The Harder They Fall

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Storyteller-in-Chief by the managing partner of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.


Reader Input: Made in Oregon

November/December 2015
Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Two trends dominate the manufacturing sector: onshoring and the rise of small-scale production manufacturing, known as the "maker economy."


Make the business case, governor

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 05, 2015
aoikatebrownthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Gov. Kate Brown delivered the keynote speech at the Associated Oregon Industries annual policy forum yesterday.  Speaking to a Republican-aligned audience of about 100 business and public policy leaders, the governor was out of her comfort zone.


Storyteller in Chief: Brew Stories

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Over the years, many mentors have taught me lessons that have helped shape the way I view the world of work and our business.


There's a great future in plastics

Linda Baker
Friday, October 30, 2015
103115-lindachinathumbBY LINDA BAKER

This is a story about a small plastics company in wine country now exporting more than one million feet — 260 miles worth — of tubing to China every month.


OEN takes Portlandia route in new video

The Latest
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.27.58 PMBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.


The Shift to Community Health Care

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A conversation with Patrick Curran, CEO of CareOregon.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02