LAIKA and Focus Features, the two companies behind the Academy Award-nominated Coraline and ParaNorman and the current Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Award-nominated release The Boxtrolls, today announced production on their fourth collaboration, Kubo and the Two Strings. LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight and Focus CEO Peter Schlessel made the announcement today. Mr. Knight, an Annie Award-winning animator, is making his directorial debut on Kubo and the Two Strings.
The new movie, from an original screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (ParaNorman) is a sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan. It is being brought to life at LAIKA’s Oregon studios via the company’s innovative 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid technique. In addition to directing, Mr. Knight is producing Kubo and the Two Strings with Arianne Sutner (ParaNorman). The all-star voice cast includes Academy Award winners Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron; Academy Award nominees Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, and Brenda Vaccaro; and Art Parkinson, who plays Rickon Stark on Game of Thrones and who is providing the voice for the title character of Kubo.
In the epic fantasy, scruffy, kindhearted Kubo ekes out a humble living while devotedly caring for his mother in their sleepy shoreside village. It is a quiet existence – until a spirit from the past catches up with him to enforce an age-old vendetta. Suddenly on the run from gods and monsters, Kubo’s chance for survival rests on finding the magical suit of armor once worn by his fallen father, the greatest samurai the world has ever known. Summoning courage, Kubo embarks on a thrilling odyssey as he faces his family’s history, navigates the elements, and bravely fights for the earth and the stars.
The movie will open in theaters nationwide domestically on August 19th, 2016; as with the three previous LAIKA movies, Focus will release Kubo and the Two Strings in the United States and Universal Pictures International will release the movie internationally. It is the first movie in the new three-picture partnership between LAIKA and Focus.
“Kubo and the Two Strings is a rare gem,” said Mr. Knight. “It’s a gripping yarn woven from Japanese folktales and mythology, with lost civilizations, mystical origami, noble heroes, star-crossed lovers, and blood-curdling monsters. At once epic and intimate, Kubo is a funny, intense, and ultimately uplifting fairy tale draped in some of the most bizarre and exciting imagery I’ve ever seen. Most importantly, it’s deeply moving. It’s a story that means something, a story that deserves to be told. In short, it’s a LAIKA movie. And with a poetic script, sublime cast, and our freakishly talented artists and craftspeople, Kubo will be a strange, stirring, and altogether stunning film. I can’t wait to share it with the world.”
“LAIKA raises the bar on animated movies as a creative art,” said Mr. Schlessel. “Each picture Focus does with them is unique yet identifiably theirs. Travis and Arianne have convened a wonderful group of animators, actors, and artisans to tell a story that moviegoers of all ages will be transported by.”
Coraline (2009) earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, PGA, and Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature Film; and was named one of the year’s 10 Best Films by the American Film Institute (AFI). ParaNorman (2012) garnered BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, GLAAD Media Award, PGA, and Academy Award nominations, won two Annie Awards (the animation community’s Oscars equivalent) and was cited as the year’s best animated film by 14 critics’ groups. The Boxtrolls has earned Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Animated Feature and 13 Annie Award nominations, more than any other film this year.