WonderCon: Would LAIKA Studios Make A Shared Universe?

LAIKA Studios has brought us some fantastic stop-motion animated films. For example, you may be familiar with such films such as Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings. Next weekend, April 12th, will debut their next feature film titled Missing Link, starring the voices of Hugh Jackman (Sir Lionel Frost), Zach Galifianakis (Mr. Link) and Zoe Saldana (Adelina Fortnight). The story follows Mr. Link who is tiered of living on his own in the Pacific Northwest, so he recruits the fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost to help him find his long lost relatives in the valley of Shangri-La.


This past February was the ten year anniversary of Coraline and since then they had put together the list of films mentioned above. So when LRM Online had the opportunity to talk with some of the creative team behind Missing Link during round table interviews at WonderCon including the writer and director of the film, Chris Butler, head of production Arianne Sutner, production designer Nelson Lowry and puppet fabrication supervisor John Craney, the question came up of whether or not they would be interested in putting their characters in a shared universe.

One of the things that would make a shared universe difficult is that each of their films is purposely done in a very unique way. This is something that Sutner touched on. “What’s weird for us every movie is intentionally unique like its design sense. We want to make these real worlds (…) if we were to put in all our characters in the same universe they wouldn’t make sense design wise. We have humans that look absolutely different form one another. What we are really trying to do is really hit every genre like lets do western, musical, comedy, romance, I think that is was we really want to accomplish, sci-fi.”

This is a very valid point as if you think about it the characters from Kubo would not make a lot a sense next to the characters from Coraline or Missing Link, this would require them to re-design a lot of these characters and thus making them loose part of their unique feel. Plus Sutner also noted that they learn new techniques and styles film to film, which motivates them to push their limits farther and farther every film. “Every time we do a movie we want to do one that is different from the previous one and it’s kind of a departure for us (…) every movie is our most ambitious movie to date”.

When Butler was asked the same question he seemed to have a very resolute answer about his feelings toward a shared universe.
“No, I think absolutely not and I think part of the reason for that is that stylistically we want everyone of our movies to feel different. If you actually put them next to each other they don’t look the same and I think that’s important. Everyone has it’s own identity and I love that. I love that not just as a creator but as a cinema goer that you can’t predict what we are going to do next and I think that is important to us as a brand you know that we are able to tell different types of stories. So no shared universe, but you know never say never there might be a sequel, you never know but I don’t know that.”

Adding Butler’s point, Lowry said that, “There are so many more original ideas that we would love to do, we would like to think that we would wear ourselves out before reviving stuff.” With how long it takes to create a stop-motion animation film, it does not surprise me that they would like to always do something new, fresh and different and it sounds like they have a lot other ideas that they would like to create before they would even think about revisiting some of their established characters. Which will be great in the sense that we would get more original films, but bad because I for one would have really liked to see another Coraline film.

Would you have liked to see a LAIKA shared universe? Or are you content with everything being separate? Let us know in the comment section below!

The next LAIKA Studios’ film is Missing Link, traveling to theaters April 12th, 2019.

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Source: LRM Online

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Manny Gomez

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