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

Light Reading

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Ask any college student: Textbook prices have skyrocketed out of control. Online education startup Lumen Learning aims to bring them down to earth.


Read more...

Photo Log: Shooting 10 innovators in rural health care

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
007blogBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

You may have noticed the photos of our rural health innovators departed from the typical Oregon Business aesthetic.


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.


Read more...

Reader Input: Rx for Health Care

July/August 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers how Obamacare has impacted their business.


Read more...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


Read more...

The Cover Story

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
01-cover-0915-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

How do you put a baby on the cover of a business magazine without it looking too cutesy?


Read more...

5 questions for ImpactFlow CEO Tyler Foreman

The Latest
Thursday, August 13, 2015
impactflowthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland-based startup ImpactFlow recently announced a $5.7 million funding round. CEO and co-founder Tyler Foreman talks about matching businesses with nonprofits, his time at Intel and the changing face of philanthropy.


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