The collaboration between the animation company Laika and Focus Features has produced the Academy Award-nominated films Coraline and ParaNorman, as well as the more recent Golden Globe Award-nominated The Boxtrolls. Back in October of this year, the companies announced a 3-picture deal to continue their collaborative efforts.
The first of the upcoming three movies from Laika and Focus Features will be Kubo and the Two Strings, which will be filmed in the animation studio’s signature blend of 3D stop-motion and computer-generated imagery.
Focus Features has set the release date for Kubo and the Two Strings as August 19th, 2016 and released concept art for the film (below). From an original screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (ParaNorman), the film is described as a “sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan.” Kubo and the Two Strings will be Laika President & CEO Thomas Knight’s directorial debut; he will also produce the feature along with Arianne Sutner (ParaNorman).
Art Parkinson (Rickon Stark on Game of Thrones) will star as Kubo in the film. Fellow cast members include Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), Rooney Mara (Pan), Ralph Fiennes (Spectre), and Brenda Vaccaro.
Only the second of Laika’s films not based directly on any source material – ParaNorman was the first – Laika also released and official synopsis for Kubo and the Two Strings:
“In the epic fantasy, scruffy, kindhearted Kubo ekes out a humble living while devotedly caring for his mother in their sleepy shoreside village. It is a quiet existence – until a spirit from the past catches up with him to enforce an age-old vendetta. Suddenly on the run from gods and monsters, Kubo’s chance for survival rests on finding the magical suit of armor once worn by his fallen father, the greatest samurai the world has ever known. Summoning courage, Kubo embarks on a thrilling odyssey as he faces his family’s history, navigates the elements, and bravely fights for the earth and the stars.”
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Although the most recent of Laika’s outings, The Boxtrolls, didn’t quite live up to their previous endeavors (read our review), the animation company has proven itself with multiple films full of interesting imagery, compelling characters, and fun stories that entertain children and adults alike. For that reason alone, Kubo and the Two Strings looks to be another hit for Laika and Focus Features.
Additionally, since Kubo and the Two Strings was written by the same screenwriters as ParaNorman, it’s a safe bet the film will be filled with similarly interesting ideas – though hopefully with a bit more development to prove that Laika is growing as a studio. To make Kubo and the Two Strings sound even more promising, the voice cast may offer some incentive to moviegoers that don’t normally seek out animated releases.
Kubo and the Two Strings is scheduled to premiere August 19th, 2016.