Certainly, 2016 has turned out to be a banner year for feature film animation, and one of the most critically acclaimed has been Laika’s latest, Kubo And The Two Strings, which this morning was nominated for 10 Annie Awards. It marks the directorial feature film debut for Laika founder and studio head Travis Knight, who came to Deadline’s big all-day awards-season event The Contenders Presented By Deadline on November 5 at the DGA theater.
In front of a packed audience of Oscar and key guild voters, Knight explained during the Focus Features presentation why he and Laika are married to the timeless art of stop-motion animation even though the production using this process moves “like a glacier,” he says of the five-year journey to bring Kubo to the screen. He talks about dual roles as head of Laika, and also as director of one of its biggest projects.
Knight also explains his early influences thanks to his mother and father (Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight), particularly at age 8 getting to accompany his dad on a business trip to Japan, something that subconsciously led to his fascination with that part of the world — and his eventual animated epic about a young boy on an epic quest to locate a magical suit of armor in order to battle a villainous force. Knight calls the whole experience “old school movie magic,” and that it is.
The three previous Laika productions — Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls — each landed a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination, an enviable track record Kubo hopes to emulate.
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