Responsible for such beloved hits as Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, Laika studios has finally unveiled their long-awaited, highly anticipated newest stop-motion effort, Kubo and The Two Strings. The film, the newest release of original work from the studio has already received endless praise from critics and has, unsurprisingly, scored a commendable rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Incredible.
The studio rose to almost instant fame back in 2009 with the release of Coraline, the delightfully macabre adaptation of Neil Gaiman's children's novella of the same name. And ever since then, fans have been begging the studio and director Henry Selick for a follow-up to the bewilderingly enchanting story.
But, has that decision already been set in stone? While it's highly unlikely that a sequel to Coraline will ever see the light of day — the story was a one and done, and author Neil Gaiman has never written a sequel to the original novel — does that mean Laika's other iconic properties will share the same no-sequel fate?
Let's Not Beat Around The Bush Here
In a new interview with Slashfilm, Laika's CEO and president Travis Knight reveals he has absolutely no intention of launching franchises with any of the films his company has made thus far. Specifically, he stated they would much rather focus on creating new characters and exploring new worlds.
We're just not interested in going back and treading over the same ground that we've already done. There's so many different stories that I want to tell, why would I want to tell something which is essentially a regurgitation of something that we've already done? I basically want to hit every genre in film before I die. Particularly the way we make films, which take forever. We only have so much time on this planet; that means let's put our energy and recourses into something new and exciting, and that's really what we try to do at the studio, to tell new and original stories. In our modern world, I can appreciate that's a rarity, but it hasn't been historically, and I think that the richness of cinema is being taken into new worlds.
In an obvious attempt to keep people from thinking he was taking a jab at Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks, Knight also talked about how he can see the appeal of sequels - at least when it comes to monetary concerns.
I can appreciate from a business perspective why it's a necessity, I get why companies do it. I certainly understand that those things can be good for the bottom line, once you develop franchises and brands, that can be great for the business.
Tell As Many Unique And Interesting Stories As Possible
Disney and Pixar have done an almost completely bulletproof job with their animated sequels. Honestly. With the minor exceptions of Cars 2 and that God-awful Planes spin-off series, I'd say they're top-notch when it comes to giving their fans exactly what they want, but mostly what we deserve. Knight isn't saying his films don't warrant sequels, he's saying there's too many out there as it is. Studios used to focus solely on bringing original content to the masses, but now originality has taken a third or even fourth backseat to the endless run of sequels, reboots, remakes, and TV adaptations. Knight also spoke about this and maybe even shined a little light on why ticket sales are steadily decreasing year after year.
I think, as an industry, we swing the pendulum way too far into one direction, and it's taken away from what’s so beautiful about going to the movies.
Laika's commitment to telling only original stories is something to be admired. In this day and age, in our world obsessed with sequel after sequel, taking a chance on an original film should never be met with immediate questions about that film's future as a potential franchise. It should be met with praise. Focusing too long on what's already happened can keep us from seeing what's happening now. I, for one, could not be more behind Laika's philosophy of originality.
It's actually refreshing to see a studio more committed to story than profit. And though I wouldn't give up my Kung Fu Panda or Shrek sequels for anything, I know I would have been able to be at peace with the stories had they finished with only a single entry.
Laika Doesn't Need To Become The Next Pixar
Knight stated a few years ago that he didn't want his company to become an echo studio. A company that follows the patterns endless sequels, waits a few years, and then churns out a live-action reboot just so they can make more sequels. We have plenty of studios to do that. And it's not like the work that Laika is producing is shoddy or sloppy. It's magical and awe-inspiring. Even as an adult, when watching Coraline or ParaNorman for the first time - and many times after - I could feel myself being swept away by the brilliant effects, the mesmerizing characters, and the unique style of storytelling that only Laika can produce. Why would anyone want to miss the chance to witness more of that just to see a repeat of something that's already been done? Why miss the chance to experience something totally new? As Travis Knight explains,
I remember when I was a kid, being in this incredible darkened room with a group full of strangers and looking at this flickering image on the screen and being transported to another world, something I'd never experienced before. That was magic.
I couldn't agree more. Laika's latest film, Kubo and The Two Strings is currently playing in theaters.
What's your favorite Laika Studios film?