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industry news

Coraline director leaves Laika

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coraline director Henry Selick has left Laika, the Portland, Oregon-based animation studio. Selick had been employed by Laika for five years and his contract was up this year. His departure leaves a large void in the small studio and a big question mark about who will replace him for Laika's next project, whatever it might be.

When The Oregonian confirmed the news about Selick's departure neither the studio nor the man commented about why the break was made or who made it first. "Making Coraline was one of the great filmmaking experiences of my life," said Selick in a statement that he released earlier today.

Laika owner Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, offered more commentary about the break-up. "Throughout our five years of collaboration, Henry has been variously my director, my mentor, and my friend. I will miss him and wish him well in his future projects."

The Oregonian reports that, while Selick was hailed by everyone as a visionary genius, he was an exceedingly hard leader on his team and demanded perfection. "I can see how some people would find him difficult to work with," said Teresa Drilling, one of the animators that worked with Selick on Coraline.

So what happens now with Laika? The company just laid off 63 employees from its computer graphics department, scaling back plans on making CG films for the moment. It currently has 180 employees on staff but hasn't announced what its next film project will be. Coraline was a good-sized hit for Laika, grossing $75 million domestic and $121 million worldwide, giving the company visibility as a viable player in stop motion animation. Who will Laika find to step into Selick's sizeable shoes and where next will The Nightmare Before Christmas director hang his hat?

-The Oregonian.

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