Laika Lets Go 65, Nixes Jack and Ben

Portland-based animation studio Laika Entertainment has laid off 65 people and axed its troubled project in development Jack and Ben’s Animated Adventure. The CG-animated feature was slated to be the studio’s follow-up pic after the upcoming Coraline. Mulan director Barry Cook was signed to direct the film.

According to a studio spokesperson, the Phil Knight-owned company had tried to push the feature to the next level, but it was one of those projects that didn’t seem to work for the team. The layoffs were attributed to ‘the normal expantion and retrenchment of the employee roster that occurs in the animated film production process.’ Laika currently employs about 280 staffers. The studio will make an announcement about its upcoming slate of projects in early 2009.

Coraline, directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) is Laika’s first major venture into the big-screen arena. Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, the feature is voiced by Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher and Ian McShane, and will be released by Focus Features on February 6, 2009.