'ParaNorman' Makers Announce Production on 'The Boxtrolls'

The Boxtrolls Sketch - P 2013

The Boxtrolls Sketch - P 2013

Laika again partners with Focus Features for an animated project with a voice cast that includes Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette and Tracy Morgan.

Laika and Focus Features -- the companies behind the Oscar-nominated animated feature ParaNorman -- are teaming up again for a third project, The Boxtrolls.

Boxtrolls, which is in production at Laika's animation studio in Portland, Ore., is a 3D stop-motion/CG hybrid feature based on Alan Snow’s fantasy adventure novel Here Be Monsters. The film is a comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, where beneath its cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls. Legend has it that they are foul monsters, but in truth, the Boxtrolls are a community of oddballs who have raised an orphaned human boy.

Anthony Stacchi (Open Season) and Graham Annable (story artist on Coraline and ParaNorman) are directing, and David Ichioka and Laika president and CEO Travis Knight are producing. The voice cast includes Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade and Tracy Morgan.

Describing the story as “Dickens by way of Monty Python,” Laika president and CEO Travis Knight said in a statement: “The Boxtrolls is a visually dazzling mash-up of gripping detective story, absurdist comedy and steampunk adventure with a surprisingly wholesome heart. … At its core, like all Laika films, The Boxtrolls is a moving and human story with timelessness and powerful emotional resonance.”

As on the previous animation collaborations ParaNorman and Coraline, Focus will hold worldwide distribution rights, and Universal Pictures International will release the movie overseas (with eOne Distribution handling Canada). An Oct. 17, 2014, release is planned.

“We are delighted to be embarking on a third wondrous adventure with the Laika artisans, who transform everyday materials into living creatures infused with dimension, humor and soul,” said Focus CEO James Schamus in a statement.

In addition to an Academy Award nomination, ParaNorman won two Annie Awards on Saturday and is nominated for a BAFTA Award.