According to Daily Variety, Phil Knight’s Portland. Ore.-based LAIKA Animation has pitched Paranorman into the mix of flicks in the running to follow the stop-motion feature Coraline to theaters. Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and directed by LAIKA supervising director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach), Coraline is LAIKA’s first feature-length production and is slated for release by Focus Features on Feb. 6, 2009, following a limited, Oscar-qualifying run later this year.
Paranorman is an original concept by Coraline story man Chris Butler, who is writing the script and will co-direct if it goes into production. The story revolves around a 13-year-old boy who becomes his small town’s only hope for surviving a zombie apocalypse. Since LAIKA does both stop-motion and CG animation, the project could go either way.
LAIKA self-financed the $60 million production of Coraline, but is hoping to establish 50-50 partnerships with major Hollywood players for upcoming films. Also in the development pipeline are the previously announced projects Here Be Monsters!, an adaptation of the books by Alan Snow, Jack and Ben, an original concept by animator Jorgen Klubien, and The Wall and the Wing, an adaptation of the children’s novel by Laura Ruby. There’s also an untitled comedy-adventure story being adapted from a young-adult trilogy by scribes Dick Clement and Ian La Franais (Flushed Away, The Commitments), and an original story about the origins of Halloween from Selick and producer John Carls (Open Season).
Set in a fantasy version of 1850s London, Here Be Monsters! follows the adventures of a 12-year-old underground dweller who is accustomed to battling monsters but must face strange new creatures when he comes to the surface to live among society. Antony Stacchi, who co-directed Sony Animation’s Open Season, is attached to direct from a script by Irena Brignell.
Jack and Ben is the story of brother bluebirds who get wrapped up in a high-flying, dangerous rally race to Florida during their southward migration. Barry Cook (Mulan) has been tapped to direct from a screenplay by David Skelly, with Ric Sluiter (Lilo & Stitch) handling art direction.
Jeffrey Lieber, co-creator of the hit ABC series Lost, is adapting The Wing and the Wall, the story of a young girl living in an alternative version of contemporary Manhattan where everyone can fly, except for our hero. She does, however, have the ability to make herself invisible.