Despite earning a Best Animated Film Oscar nomination for all their feature work–2009’s Coraline, 2014’s The Boxtrolls, and 2012’s ParaNorman–stop-motion movie studio Laika Entertainment has yet to reach the recognition level or box office performance status of animation houses like Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, or Walt Disney Animation. However, Laika does have their three original features in the top seven box office takes ever for stop-motion animated features. And with the studio’s upcoming feature Kubo and the Two Strings poised to open in theaters on August 19th, there’s every chance in the world LAIKA will have another $100 million earner and awards-contender on their hands.
But to fans of stop-motion animation–a charming and unique style of filmmaking of which Laika has fashioned itself after–box office numbers and awards hardware don’t necessarily rank high on their metrics. What we look for is the clear presence of hands-on filmmaking, a moving story told in a way that only stop-motion animation can bring to life, and moments which have us asking, “How on Earth did they pull that off?” Through a combination of years of development, investment in advances in both 3D printing technology and computer-aided design, and a bold, ambitious approach to filmmaking, Laika has managed to reinvent themselves with each and every feature film they’ve released.
With that in mind, we take a look at the history of Laika Entertainment and their filmmaking evolution to see how far they’ve come and make a case for why their future is brighter than ever.