Back in August, Disney shut down production on Henry Selick‘s eagerly anticipated new stop-motion animated film, which at one point bore the name “Shademaker,” for a myriad of reasons: the tone and story of the movie never solidified the way the studio wanted, the production was moving way too slowly, and Selick clashed frequently with the Pixar Brain Trust, who were overseeing the project in an advisory capacity. (The film was set to be Pixar’s first stop-motion film, at least initially.) Earlier this month Disney quietly announced to shareholders that they were taking a $50 million hit on a canceled project, which ended up being “Shademaker,” which to us signaled that the movie was dead and that the initial option for the filmmaker to take it to another studio had been exhausted. Well, it looks like Laika, the company behind this summer’s brilliant “ParaNorman” and Selick’s own “Coraline,” could step in to rescue the movie.
According to a report on our sister site Thompson on Hollywood, Selick is in early talks with Laika to finance the completion of the feature. The report states that Selick is still on good terms with Laika owner (and animator) Travis Knight, the son of Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight. Selick would be able to continue the film away from the Portland, Oregon, Laika campus, in the newly built Cinderbiter Studios, near San Francisco.
Apparently the story of “Shademaker” concerns two brothers. That’s about as close as we’ve gotten to story details, although the ToH report mentions a fantastical set in Central Park and the fact that the production is using Rapid Prototype 3D Printers to replicate props and some elements of the puppets, a technique “ParaNorman” pioneered.
It’s unclear where this will fit into the grand scheme of Laika, with a whole host of potential projects in development there, including “Goblins,” directed by Mark Gustafson, an animation director on Wes Anderson‘s “Fantastic Mr. Fox“; “Wildwood,” a surreal fable set Portland that’s based on a children’s novel written by The Decemberists‘ lead singer Colin Meloy; and “Here Be Monsters,” a lushly illustrated fantasy novel by Alan Snow set in an alternate-history Victorian England, that is to be directed by “Open Season” director Anthony Stacchi, who infamously served as head of story on Industrial Light & Magic‘s aborted “Frankenstein vs. Wolfman” animated feature.
Also unclear is how this will affect Selick’s relationship with Disney (and newly appointed studio head Alan Horn), considering Disney had been all hot and bothered about Selick directing an adaption of Neil Gaiman‘s brilliant “The Graveyard Book.” There’s been nary a peep about that project, even as the news of the stop-motion film’s cancellation swirled. It will be an interesting few months, for sure, but we are just excited about the possibility of a new Selick movie, no matter where it comes from. Still, a stop-motion Pixar movie would have been pretty cool.