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

Which Way to Chinatown?

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

The Jade International District, already Portland's center of Asian life, is poised for rejuvenation. Where does that leave the westside's historic Chinatown?


Read more...

7 industry trends of 2015

The Latest
Friday, January 09, 2015
covertrends15-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Industry groups identify top trends for 2015.


Read more...

Convention Wisdom

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

After more than a decade of wrangling, construction on a convention center hotel in Portland is slated to start this summer. But debate over project financing continues.


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...

See How They Run

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

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

LEED for weed

News
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
012815-potcarbon-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

What is the impact of the legal pot industry on carbon emissions? An NEBC energy forum breakfast makes the case for taking the new industry’s emissions impacts very seriously.


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