With its unique blend of stop-motion puppetry and VFX, the Portland-based Laika Entertainment has created such awesome and offbeat animated efforts as Coraline, ParaNorman, and (my personal favorite) The Boxtrolls. More daring than Pixar, more gonzo than DreamWorks, Laika is earning a reputation for cartoons that dare to be not just different, but openly progressive, including complex female characters as well as representation of LGBT characters.
And with announcement of their latest project, Laika’s about to take the next step in diversity by going less lily-white.
Deadline reveals Laika’s next project—as part of a three picture deal with recurring collaborator Focus Features—will be Kubo and The Two Strings, a “sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan.” Inspired by Japanese folklore, Chris Butler (ParaNorman) and Marc Haimes (the upcoming horror movie The Last Word) penned the story of Kubo, whose quiet life in in a shoreside village is derailed when a spirit from his past re-ignites an old vendetta that demands the boy find the magical armor of his deceased samurai father to protect him against the monsters and gods who would do him harm.
Kubo and The Two Strings will mark the directorial debut of Travis Knight, animator/son on Nike’s founder/former rapper/President and CEO of Laika. For Laika’s fourth film, they are pulling together some big stars for behind the scenes. So far, Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, and Ralph Fiennes have been announced, along with Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro (Once Is Not Enough). And funny enough—just as they did for The Boxtrolls—Laika is pulling the voice for its boy lead from House Stark! Following in the footsteps of onscreen brother Bran, Art Parkinson (A.K.A. Rickon Stark) will play young Kubo.
Secretly in production since last summer, Kubo and The Two Strings is expected to hit theaters on August 19th, 2016. The good news: this summer spot suggests Laika/Focus Features has high hopes for their latest venture. The bad news: we have to wait 1 ½ YEARS for another Laika movie. In the meantime, enjoy one of the best moments of Boxtrolls, which hits DVD January 20th.