Thursday, February 7, 2013

Trolls and More Shadows

Despite mass audiences' continuing resistance to stop motion animation films; projects are still in production. Two mainstream stop motion films, one from LAIKA and one from Henry Selick, are on their way...

Remember that untitled film that LAIKA announced a while back? Well it it has a title and a premise... The name? The Boxtrolls...

ComingSoon revealed the premise that's already getting me geared up for this exciting new project...

Set in the Victorian-era town of Cheesebridge, the Boxtrolls are creatures living under the streets that wear discarded cardboard boxes as shells. The wealthy and cheese-loving people of the town fear them, but the monsters are truly good creatures that don't steal children and cheese like the town's legend claims. The eccentric creatures raised an orphan human boy named Eggs. The boy and a wealthy girl named Winnie might be their key to finally help their world come together with the one above their home, though an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher wants to obliterate all the Boxtrolls so he can become accepted by the town.

From the sound of it, it'll be another quirky and unique story from the famed animation house. Proving their prowess with Henry Selick's excellent Coraline and the very bold ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls has instant masterpiece written all over it. The kind of animated film we need amidst the other films.

LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight has mentioned that the film combines absurdist comedy, detective story elements and a steampunk vibe. He also touted that it's "Dickens by the way of Monty Python". The picture is being directed by Anthony Stacchi (visual effects veteran who also worked on Aeon Flux, Antz and co-directed Sony Pictures Animation's Open Season) and Graham Annable (who was a story artist on both Coraline and ParaNorman). The cast consists of Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hampsted-Wright, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade and Tracy Morgan.

All I can say is... Color me excited. This may very well be my most anticipated animated film for next year. I mean... Steampunk, the usual LAIKA flare, Monty Python-esque humor and a compelling, heartwarming story. This may be LAIKA's biggest and most ambitious film to date.

The film will also be a hybrid of stop motion and computer animation, so it'll definitely be something different in the visual department. It's slated to hit theaters on October 17, 2014. Originally, the film was scheduled for September 26, opening against Sony Animation's Popeye. Focus Features and LAIKA made a smart move but pushing this to October, so now the film will have some time to breathe before Halloween and November animation competition.


Now in other stop motion animation news, Henry Selick's formerly canceled project is back on track...

The partially-completed The Shadow King, a film he was originally making for Walt Disney Pictures for an October 2013 release (then titled Shademaker), was unexpectedly shut down last year by Chairman Alan Horn because Selick and his crew were apparently behind schedule. I was saddened by this news, and was hoping that LAIKA would take the project from there - but they shockingly turned it down! It seemed like Selick's project was dead in the water.

The Shadow King is currently being backed by K5 International and should be completed sometime soon since they are going to be able use what was completed when they were working for Disney. An image and the film's premise have been revealed.

The Shadow King is the story of Hap Dagger, a nine-year-old New York City orphan who can't show his hands to a world that won't understand. A shadow war is being waged against a monster who can destroy all of New York, but a Living Shadow Girl teaches the boy how to weaponize his hands in order to take on the beast and save his city.

Like the LAIKA film, it's a very different premise and one that's positively Selick. Whenever it'll be completed, who knows. Reportedly a good portion of it is completed, so we can expect this film to come out some time next year. This does bring up an interesting question: Could the recent cancellation of DreamWorks' similar Me and My Shadow be linked to the resurrection of this project? Or is that a stretch?

That being said, it's great to see the film back in the works. I expect nothing short of brilliance from Selick and his team. It's just a shame that Disney dropped it, they had a potential winner with this one.

Are you anticipating these two films? When do you think The Shadow King will hit theaters?

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