Laika Passes on Henry Selick's 'Shadow King', Project is Now Dead

September 26, 2012

Henry Selick Laika

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.

Find more posts: Animation, Development, Movie News




Kento on Sep 26, 2012


My sentiments exactly! Charlie Kaufman's recent Anomalisa Kickstarter did great - really hope Selick at least gives it a try!

Zeus on Sep 26, 2012


Crowd source a movie that will cost another 50 to 75 million to make? Never happen.

macona on Oct 1, 2012


Didn't Disney fire Tim Burton after he made his live action short of FRANKENWEENIE, but they were okay with his very dark and creepy VINCENT short? I hope the Shadow King truly was too dark because this is Henry Selick we're talking about here and it should be a privilege being apart of something he creates. I hope something happens with this soon.

dale on Sep 26, 2012


That sucks to hear. I'm thinking it was because of "Paranorman's" turnout; praised critically, but not a big box office draw. See, with alot of these smaller animation houses, (with the exception of Pixar & DWA, of course) if their in-house project doesn't fare too well, the consequences are dire for them, (ex: Imagemovers, Imagi, Dr. D, etc.) but I'm sure Henry's project will bounce back soon.

Big Boss on Sep 26, 2012


Time to visit the good old Kickstarter.

Chris Amaya on Sep 26, 2012


Man that sucks. I hope some one will reach out to him.

DAVIDPD on Sep 26, 2012


This guy is the driving force of so much of the stop motion that I've enjoyed over the last 20 years. Why on earth not trust him to deliver - remember when Disney thought Burton was too dark? Disney should take more chances - they have a big adult following! All the best to Selick.

dom on Sep 27, 2012


Maybe he should go see Megan Ellison. She'll probably fund it.

Terence Hood on Sep 27, 2012


Selick is one of those geniuses who nobody appreciates... until he die, and then everybody will be his fan and will be treated like the real master-craft he is.

TOONFED on Sep 27, 2012


Give this guy a chance! I long for "too dark" projects! Selick is better than Burton!

Szymon Łukasik on Oct 3, 2012


getting any film made is tough, for Animation it's especially traumatic. even rock star Directors like Selick can get a plug pulled if it's not a crowd friendly piece, "give them what they want"..who? the studio's or us who actually want to see it. quick everybody go see whatever dark Animation film is playing, they might call Henry back and re start...we have to support this type of stuff when it hit's the cinema, we can't just sit around at our computer and moan about it, it's numbers, butt's in seats, that's the business, story story story. tight story, skillful work, butt's in seats.

Ray Doran on Nov 1, 2012

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