Talk about a major free agent. Henry Selick, the acclaimed director of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is leaving Laika, the studio behind his latest success, “Coraline.” The move is surprising since Selick’s work had almost singlehandedly built up Laika’s reputation as a premier producer of animation. Selick arrived in 2004, right as Nike executive Phil Knight acquired Will Vinton studios and immediately began to turn around the studios fortunes. 2005 saw the award-winning short “Moongirl” and again this past year saw the critical and commercial success of “Coraline.” To find out why Selick is moving on, frame by frame, hit the jump.
According to Variety, Selick was dissatsfied with his role in the company. His contract, which just finished, had him cast as the Supervising Director for Feature Film Development. After “Coraline,” however, Selick wanted another project to work on, a request that the studio failed to meet. Considering the results of his previous forays into feature films (“James and the Giant Peach” was his other movie), it is, to quote Mr.Spock, illogical that Laika allowed him to walk. A talent like Selick will surely find a new home, maybe even reuniting with long time friend Tim Burton. Nevertheless, Laika should have realized that animators like Selick are very few and far between. By letting him go Laika has seriously hurt its chances for successfully building off of their recent Selick-fueled success.