Studio nabs rights to stop-motion animation pic 'Coraline'

CANNES — NBC Universal’s specialty film arm Focus Features is jumping into the animation game, picking up world rights to the stop-motion pic “Coraline” from Laika Entertainment, the Oregon-based toon house owned by Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

Pic — based on the book by Neil Gaiman, and toplining the voice talent of Dakota Fanning — follows a young girl who walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life.

Laika supervising director Henry Selick adapted the tome for the bigscreen and will co-helm with Mike Cachuela.

Selick’s previous directing credits include “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Pandemonium Films topper Bill Mechanic is producing with Laika’s Mary Sandell.

Alt rockers They Might Be Giants are penning songs for the pic.

“This distribution agreement is an integral step in the evolution of Laika Entertainment as a major force in the global feature film animation marketplace,” said the unit’s prexy and CEO Dale Wahl.

Headed by James Schamus, Focus’ slate already includes Woody Allen’s “Scoop,” Allen Coulter’s “Hollywoodland” and David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises.”

Laika also is in pre-production on the CG pic “Jack & Ben’s Animated Adventure.” Pandemonium’s upcoming credits include “Torso,” with David Fincher attached to helm.

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