Henry Selick has halted his discussions with Laika to finance his stop-motion feature, which was recently shut down by Disney. Newly appointed Disney chairman Alan Horn opted to take a $50-million write-off, reportedly because the tone was too dark and the production was moving too slowly.
Given that Laika and Selick parted ways after the successful “Coraline,” a friendly reunion might have been a long shot. Both might have benefited, though. Selick might still have been able to work out of his fledgling Cinderbiter studio in San Francisco. And Laika would have had a new satellite studio to complement its campus in Portland, Oregon. Selick’s “Coraline” did far better with both reviewers and audiences than Laika’s recent second release, “ParaNorman.”
Selick not only has Pixar to thank for setting him up at Cinderbiter, but also for providing story notes from the vaunted brain trust (from screenwriter Mike Jones to Brad Bird).
I’m told that the once-titled “ShadeMaker” is the story of two brothers, and that it takes Selick’s special brand of surrealism in a new direction. The sets are spectacular (especially Central Park) and they’ve been making use of a similar Rapid Prototype 3D printer for replacement heads that Laika introduced on “ParaNorman.”
Fingers crossed that someone recognizes the painstaking artistry that Selick brings to these projects and comes through with some funding.