Laika plans next act after successful year

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

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.

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Growing a mobility cluster

News
Friday, October 31, 2014
0414 bikes bd2f6052BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Why are there so few transportation startups in Portland?  The city’s leadership in bike, transit and pedestrian transportation has been well-documented.  But that was then — when government and nonprofits paved the way for a new, less auto centric way of life.


Read more...

The short list: 5 hot coffee shops for entrepreneurs

Contributed Blogs
Friday, November 14, 2014

CupojoeBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.


Read more...

The clean fuels opportunity

News
Monday, November 10, 2014
111014-dirtyfuel-thumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.


Read more...

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


Read more...

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


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