×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Laika to adapt The Decemberists singer’s ‘Wildwood’

'Coraline' animation studio sets lit adaptation

Laika is looking to its own backyard for its most ambitious project yet. The Portland, Ore.-based animation studio behind “Coraline” has optioned “Wildwood,” a young-adult fantasy novel set in an alternate version of the Oregon city, written by the Decemberists lead singer Colin Meloy and illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.

“Wildwood,” published last week by HarperCollins’ Balzer and Bray imprint, marks the first book in a proposed trilogy centering around Prue McKneel, a young lady who must confront a world filled with magic and danger after her younger brother is kidnapped, forcing her to enter the Impassable Wilderness.

“It’s a story in the grand tradition of Tolkien, as big as ‘Lord of the Rings’ with a wonderful contemporary quality as well,” Laika prexy-CEO Travis Knight told Variety. “Nothing of its kind has been attempted in our medium. You have these epic scenes alongside very nuanced character moments, which are the two hardest things to do in stop-motion. It’s exciting to imagine how this might all come together.”

Though Laika has previously resisted the idea of doing sequels, Knight said the company is approaching “Wildwood” with the hope of adapting all three parts of the trilogy.

Laika will add “Wildwood” to a development slate that contains a mix of adaptations and original projects. The toon studio is deep in production on its next 3D stop-motion feature, “ParaNorman,” which Focus will release on Aug. 17, 2012. Laika has yet to announce its 2014 release.

According to Knight, Meloy and Ellis were so protective of the property that they originally told their agent they would allow the book to be optioned only if the adaptation could be done in the style of either “Watership Down” or stop-motion. “I think it was literally the next day that we called them up and said, ‘We’d love to do this project with you,'” he said.

“Hands down, there is no other movie studio in the world besides Laika that I would entrust ‘Wildwood’ to,” Meloy said.

When it came time to commission a toon trailer for the book’s release, based on Ellis’ illustrations, HarperCollins and the authors approached the same studio that will ultimately adapt the novel.

“When we visited the studio and saw all the brilliant creative work happening there — someone building a waist-high New England village, someone else sewing pinhead-sized rivets on tiny blue jeans — we were won over completely,” Ellis said.

Meloy and Ellis were repped in the deal by Steven Malk of Writers House.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Incitement

    'Incitement' Wins Ophir Award for Best Picture, Becomes Israel's Oscar Submission

    “Incitement” was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar. The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at [...]

  • LargoAI

    LargoAI Wins Inaugural San Sebastian Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Swiss artificial intelligence and data analytics company LargoAI won Sunday’s first-ever San Sebastian Film Festival Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge. LargoAI’s software provides data-driven filmmaking strategies, similar to those used by major VOD platforms which aggregate and often horde their own user-driven data. From early in the screenwriting process through development and [...]

  • MARIANA-RONDÓN-MARITÉ-UGÁS

    FiGa Snags 'Contactado,' By The Team Behind San Sebastian Winner 'Pelo Malo' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s FiGa Films has picked up worldwide sales rights to “Contactado,” the upcoming feature by Sudaca Films’ Marité Ugás and Mariana Rondón, the duo behind San Sebastian 2013 Golden Shell winner, “Pelo Malo.” The Sudaca partners are attending San Sebastian to pitch Rondón-helmed project “Zafari” at the 8th Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum. Directed by [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

    'Ad Astra' Lifts Above Competition at International Box Office With $26 Million

    Though “Ad Astra” was overthrown by the Crawley family at the domestic box office, Brad Pitt’s astronaut drama reigned supreme at the international box office. Directed by James Gray, “Ad Astra” launched overseas with $26 million from 44 foreign markets. The $80 million sci-fi epic debuted in North America with $19.2 million, bringing global box [...]

  • hugh jackman tiff bad education

    Toronto's Biggest Deal Goes to HBO: A Sign of the Future? (Column)

    When it comes to how we’ll be watching movies — or, at least, watching serious dramas for adults — in the future, here are two stark and timely contradictory facts: 1. Last week, as the Toronto International Film Festival drew to a close, a deal that had been in the rumor stage for a while [...]

  • 'Talking About Trees' Helmer Suhaib Gasmelbari

    'Talking About Trees' Director Suhaib Gasmelbari Receives Variety MENA Award

    Suhaib Gasmelbari, whose Sudanese documentary “Talking About Trees” premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama section, received the Variety Middle East and North Africa Region Talent Award Saturday at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt from festival director Intishal Al Timimi. Variety critic Jay Weissberg, who selected the honoree, said that it is not usual that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content