Laika’s fifth film, “Missing Link,” will take a mature leap for the Oregon-based stop-motion studio, breaking free from Focus Features in a North American distribution alliance with Annapurna Pictures. It opens spring of 2019, as Laika President/CEO Travis Knight meets with international distributors at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Missing Link” is a buddy comedy/adventure about explorer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) and a Yeti named Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis), who embark on a global quest from the Pacific Northwest in search of the legendary Shangri-La, home of Link’s ancestry. They team up with adventurer Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), who possesses the only known map to their secret destination.
Once again, Laika embraces acceptance and belonging in its first movie not starring a child hero. Written and directed by Chris Butler (“ParaNorman”), “Missing Link” also features the voice talents of Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant, Matt Lucas, David Walliams, Amrita Acharia, and Ching Valdes-Aran.
“It’s the most striking thing we’ve ever done,” commented Knight in an official statement, adding that it mixes “keenly felt emotion, madcap humor, and retina-bursting visuals.” Knight (who’s currently directing Paramount’s live-action “Bumblebee: The Movie”) is producing “Missing Link” with Arianne Sutner (“Kubo and the Two Strings,” “ParaNorman”). As Laika’s head of production. Sutner is overseeing the studio’s most ambitious movie, with 110 sets and 65 unique locations.
“Missing Link” has been in production for more than two years, and was intended to be released this year through Focus Features (which had a deal for Laika’s sixth film as well). Laika’s first four films (“Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls,” and “Kubo and the Two Strings”) have all been nominated for Best Animated Feature Oscars, boasting cutting edge tech to advance stop-motion animation as a hybrid of old and new techniques. In 2016, the studio earned the Academy Sci-Tech Oscar for its rapid prototyping, 3D printing system for character animation.
In terms of box office, Henry Selick’s “Coraline” earned $124.6 million, followed by “ParaNorman’s” $107.1 million, “The Boxtrolls” with $109.3 million, and “Kubo’s” $77.5 million, a steep decline, despite its resplendent Japanese spectacle and decor.