Every time LAIKA releases another of their tremendous stop-motion animated movies we praise their creativity but lament the box office never matches the amount of work they put into them. 2016’s Oscar nominated Kubo and the Two Strings, which received some of the year’s best reviews, topped out at only $77M worldwide, the lowest of their four completed films. Hopefully that will change with their fifth movie, which has been announced today by LAIKA President Travis Knight and Annapurna’s Megan Ellison, who also revealed the voice cast.
LAIKA will team up with Annapurna for an untitled movie they are simply calling “Film Five”. Chris Butler, who directed ParaNorman, will get behind the camera for what is being described as: “Bursting with humor, heart, and a profound message of acceptance and finding one’s place, the animation team at LAIKA is thrilled to be bringing this globetrotting comedy-adventure to life.”
The voice cast will be led by Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, and Zach Galifianakis. Here’s what Knight had to say about the upcoming project:
“Our next film represents an evolutionary shift for LAIKA. It’s an exciting bridge to our future. Director Chris Butler and the wizards at LAIKA have crafted a moving work of art, layered with wit and imagination and soul. Plus it’s really, really funny. It’s a privilege to partner with Megan and her exceptional team at Annapurna to bring this beautiful original story to the world.”
I think the most notable thing about this announcement is LAIKA’s shift away from Focus Features, which has distributed all four of their films: Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and Kubo, all decreasing in box office over the years. Going to Annapurna may be a way for them to try and correct that. While it may seem an odd move switching to a smaller, more niche distributor they also have more experience marketing to their core audience.