Laika Sets Stop-Motion Neo-Noir from ‘Ozark’ Creator and ‘Kubo’ Director as Seventh Feature

The animation house has slated "The Night Gardener," a gritty folktale conceived by Bill Dubuque and directed by Travis Knight.
The Night Gardener
"The Night Gardener"

Laika, the animation house known for Oscar-nominated films from “Coraline” and “ParaNorman” to “The Boxtrolls” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” has announced its seventh feature. Titled “The Night Gardener,” the project is based on an original screenplay by “Ozark” co-creator Bill Dubuque and will be directed by Travis Knight, Laika’s CEO and president. Knight previously directed “Kubo and the Two Strings” as well as Paramount’s live-action “Bumblebee.”

Laika pitches the film as a “gritty neo-noir folktale centered on a young man in rural Missouri fighting to keep his family together in the wake of a tragedy. The film will paint an unflinching portrait of sacrifice, self-reliance and revenge.”

“’The Night Gardener’ is a beautiful and timeless story that quickens the pulse as often as it breaks the heart,” Knight said. “Bill is a masterful storyteller. He’s crafted a lyrical world layered with complex characters, provocative ideas, and keenly felt emotion. It’s gonna be one helluva movie.”

“I’m delighted that Travis Knight saw in ‘The Night Gardener’ a story worthy of the time-intensive process and collective talent of Laika’s in-house artisans,” said Dubuque. “Laika’s creativity and dedication to detail is, in my opinion, as close as one can come to conjuring storytelling magic.”

The studio is currently in production on “Wildwood,” the first film set in Laika’s hometown of Portland, Oregon. Knight is directing the animated film, based on the bestselling fantasy novel written by Colin Meloy, lead singer and songwriter for the rock group The Decemberists. The project about a secret forest has been in development at Laika for a decade. The film is still seeking a distributor.

Prior to co-creating “Ozark” with Mark Williams, Dubuque co-wrote Warner Bros.’ “The Judge,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, as well as “The Accountant.” “Ozark” debuts its final episodes April 29 on Netflix.

Knight’s “Kubo” from 2016 won the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film and received Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature and Visual Effects. Laika won a Science and Technology Oscar in 2016 for its innovations in 3D printing. Recently, the studio announced its first live-action feature film based on the action thriller novel “Seventeen” by screenwriter John Brownlow.

Travis Knight and his father Phil Knight launched Laika in 2005.

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