By Brian Welk
September 15, 2021
Stop-motion animation studio Laika has announced what will be their sixth animated feature film: “Wildwood.” And Travis Knight, the company’s president and CEO, is making his return to animated films and will direct the project for the studio.
“Wildwood” is based on a book by the lead singer and songwriter for The Decemberists, Colin Meloy, which also features illustrations by artist Carson Ellis. Production is underway now at the Laika facility outside Portland, Oregon.
The film also has something of a hometown tie for Laika, as it’s the story of an enchanted world called Wildwood that exists just outside Portland’s city limits. When one girl finds her way there after her baby brother has been taken by a murder of crows into the forest’s depths, she finds herself at the center of a fairy tale encountering strange talking animals, roguish bandits and powerful figures with dark intentions.
Knight will also bring along Oscar nominee Caleb Deschanel as the film’s cinematographer, making this the first time he’ll be working on a fully animated film.
Arianne Sutner is producing “Wildwood,” and Chris Butler is writing the screenplay. The pair both won Golden Globes for their work on Laika’s last feature “Missing Link.”
“As a deep-dyed native son of Oregon, I have rainwater, microbrew, and fair-trade coffee coursing through my veins,” Travis Knight said. “With ‘Wildwood,’ I have the opportunity to tell a madly ambitious story of magic, wonder, and danger set in the place I grew up. My very own Portland will join that pantheon of unforgettable fantasy realms, with a stirring epic that will kindle imaginations, lift spirits, and break hearts.”
Knight continued: “Colin and Carson’s novel is a lyrical work of art. The entire Laika family is fully committed to honoring it with a film of breathtaking spectacle and aching beauty. I can’t wait to share it with the world. Although we’re doing this in stop-motion, so, you know, I’ll have to.”
“Wildwood” will be Knight’s third feature, as he first directed Laika’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” but then directed the live-action “Transformers” spinoff “Bumblebee.”
Laika has earned Oscar nominations for all five of its films thus far, including “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls,” “Kubo” and “Missing Link.” They’re also developing a live-action feature and thriller they acquired called “Seventeen.”
Butler is repped by UTA and attorney Rob Szymanski.