Excl: Laika Passes on Henry Selick's 'Shadow King', Project is Dead
by Alex Billington
September 26, 2012
Earlier this week, we reported that stop-motion animation house Laika (behind this year's ParaNorman as well as Coraline) was considering taking over the new project from filmmaker Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, Coraline). Selick, who has had a rough couple of years, left Laika after finishing Coraline, was taken under the wing of Disney where he started developing this new project, titled The Shadow King, then found out after putting $50 million into development, Disney was dumping it. The project went into limbo in August, but the news about Laika proved hopeful. Not anymore.
Following the initial Laika report, I was contacted by a source that worked for Mr. Selick who informed me that the studio had passed. As proof, he showed me a memo that Henry Selick himself sent internally to his staff at Cinderbiter, his San Francisco based stop-motion animation house, earlier this week. The memo confirms that Travis Knight, who runs Laika, unfortunately couldn't figure out budgeting to pull this project in and had to pass. Selick goes on to say that while he hoped it wouldn't turn out this way, The Shadow King is no more. Though he does say there still might be a chance to pick up the pieces at a future date.
Laika has still been able to deliver stand out work in a world where CG animation rules the industry and the box office. Selick's note mentions that Laika will continue with their own stop-motion work (either Goblins or Little White Lie), but has plenty of major challenges of their own. From the original report, word is that Selick's Shadow King was a dark story about two brothers and "it takes Selick's special brand of surrealism into a new direction." Disney let the project go because, reportedly, the tone was too dark. Selick's memo doesn't mention anything else about future plans or what will happen with Cinderbiter, but this is sad news to hear right when we thought there was some hope for his new project and stop-motion animation movies.
For now, it sounds like Henry Selick's The Shadow King is dead. Shelved until, potentially in the future, someone is interested. Disney has passed on it, Laika has passed on it, sounds like it's time for him to move on to something else. We'll continue to keep you updated on every stop-motion animation project around.