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Focus Features Seals Two-Picture Pact with LAIKA

Focus Features Seals Two-Picture Pact with LAIKA

Oregon’s animated producer LAIKA is forging ahead –without Coraline creator Henry Selick, who is now in the Disney/Pixar fold–with two more 3-D stop-motion films to be released by Focus Features.

The first, 3-D comedy-thriller ParaNorman, is already in production under co-directors Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux, Flushed Away) and Chris Butler, who wrote the script. (Synopsis and cast are below.) Butler was storyboard supervisor on Coraline and storyboard artist on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. ParaNorman marks the second 3-D stop-motion film after Coraline. It opens August 17, 2012. The second untitled film is slated for release in 2014.

Like the Coraline distribution deal, Focus holds worldwide distribution rights to both movies, while Universal Pictures International will handle their overseas release. It makes sense that Focus would want to repeat the critically-praised, Oscar-nominated Coraline‘s outstanding business– $75 million domestically alone. But Selick is no longer involved with LAIKA, whose CEO Travis Knight remains in charge.

The voice cast includes Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show), Jeff Garlin (Toy Story 3), John Goodman (Monsters, Inc.), Bernard Hill (Titanic), Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Leslie Mann (Rio), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (How to Train Your Dragon), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In), and Tony and Emmy Award winner Elaine Stritch (30 Rock).

In the comedy thriller, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (voiced by Mr. McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, moronic grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

Arianne Sutner, animation producer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Travis Knight are producing ParaNorman. Academy Award winner Brian Van’t Hul (King Kong, Coraline) is the movie’s visual effects supervisor; Emmy Award winner Nelson Lowry (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride) is its production designer; and Tristan Oliver (Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Academy Award-winning Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) is the director of photography on ParaNorman.

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