This has been a crazy week for animation news – Henry Selick's seemingly doomed “The Shadow King” got resurrected; DreamWorks Animation’s financial troubles became very public (leading to schedule shifts and the cancellation of one film); and now here’s another bit of animation world news to get the blood going: Seattle-based stop motion studio Laika and Focus Features will reteam once again for “The Boxtrolls,” which has officially started production, for release on October 17th, 2014. This is the painstaking world of stop motion animation – get cracking boys!
In a press release issued by Focus and Laika, the studios also announced the impressive voice cast and equally impressive creative talent behind the film, which is an adaptation of the best-selling illustrated novel “Here Be Monsters” by Alan Snow. The voice cast includes Elle Fanning, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan and Ben Kingsley. Yes please. Anthony Stacchi, who co-directed “Open Season” for Sony Animation, will co-direct the project by Graham Annable, the ridiculously talented story artist from earlier Laika hits “Coraline” and “ParaNorman.”
The story takes place in the fantastical, steam punk-y Victorian-era town of Cheesebridge, a town obsessed with wealth and fearful of the trolls that live beneath its city streets, emerging at night to steal the city's children and cheese (the two things they value most). Laika CEO (and animator) Travis Knight described the project as "Dickens by way of Monty Python." Sounds good to us.
Laika is coming off an impressive year, with their stop-motion triumph "ParaNorman," which netted Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature Film and was named one of the year’s 10 Best Films by the American Film Institute. It might not have been a blockbuster, but it is a critics' darling. The studio seems focused and committed to its niche – the spooky-fun children's animated film – and "The Boxtrolls" seems like another worthy entry.