The Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy was always more storyteller than singer, so it’s about time he put down the guitar and try a full-on novel. The wise folks over at Laika think it’s good—or at least good enough for a movie. The animation studio behind Coraline has optioned the rights to Meloy’s young-adult fantasy novel Wildwood. The story is set in alternate version of Portland, Oregon, where both Laika and The Decemberists are based. The book is intended to be the first in a trilogy about Prue McKneel, “a young lady who must confront a world filled with magic and danger after her younger brother is kidnapped, forcing her to enter the Impassable Wilderness.” Laika president Travis Knight hopes the movie will be the first in a trilogy.
Hit the jump for more from Knight (including a Lord of the Rings comparison) and a full synopsis of the book.
Knight told Variety:
“It’s a story in the grand tradition of Tolkien, as big as Lord of the Rings with a wonderful contemporary quality as well. Nothing of its kind has been attempted in our medium. You have these epic scenes alongside very nuanced character moments, which are the two hardest things to do in stop-motion. It’s exciting to imagine how this might all come together.”
That’s pretty hyperbolic. At the same time, this is the level of ambition and whimsy I want from the president of an animation studio. The report doesn’t specify, but I assume Wildwood will be in 3D like Coraline, and Laika’s next feature Paranorman. (Further suggesting Laika really wants street cred on the indie music scene, they recruited Jon Brion to score the August 2012 release.)
Here’s the official synopsis for Wildwood, illustrated by Meloy’s wife Carson Ellis:
Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her baby brother is abducted by a murder of crows. And then things get really weird.
You see, on every map of Portland, Oregon, there is a big splotch of green on the edge of the city labeled “I.W.” This stands for “Impassable Wilderness.” No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.
And this is where the crows take her brother.
So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval, a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much bigger as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness.
A wilderness the locals call Wildwood. [Amazon]