Shout! Factory has set release dates for four new Blu-ray Disc editions of animated films from the acclaimed Laika animation studio.
The new “Laika Studios Edition” releases will offer digital remastered versions of each film in collectible packaging, plus new bonus materials, including interviews with the studio’s animation team, never-before-seen animation test footage, and feature-length storyboards.
Due Aug. 31 are Coraline (2009) and The Boxtrolls (2014), followed Sept. 14 by ParaNorman (2012) and Kubo and the Two Strings (2016). The distribution agreement between Shout! Factory and Laika was originally announced in February.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Laika is known for blending trailblazing artistry with bleeding-edge filmmaking technology. All four films showcased Laika’s inventive 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid technique. The integrated effects made the characters and their surroundings feel authentic and lifelike, immersing viewers deep into their worlds.
All four films were nominees in their respective years for the Best Animated Film Oscar.
The Laika Studios Editions also feature commemorative essays by journalists such as Peter Debruge (Variety), Ramin Zahed (Animation Magazine), Bill Desowitz (Indiewire) and former Los Angeles Times film critic Charles Solomon.
Coraline, directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach) and based on the novella of the same name by author Neil Gaiman (Sandman), is the first stop-motion animated film ever to be conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3-D. A young girl walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life — only much better. But when this wondrously off-kilter, fantastical adventure turns dangerous and her counterfeit parents try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to save her family and get back home. The voice cast includes Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr. and Ian McShane.
Extras include audio commentary with Selick and composer Bruno Coulais, deleted scenes, “The Making of Coraline” and legacy featurettes, feature-length storyboards, never-before-released animation test footage, an “Inside Laika featurette,” and a new forward by Peter Debruge, chief film critic for Variety.
The Boxtrolls is a comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that’s the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells. The Boxtrolls have raised an orphaned human boy, Eggs, since infancy as one of their dumpster-diving and mechanical junk-collecting own. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by villainous pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher, who is bent on eradicating them as his ticket to Cheesebridge society, the kindhearted band of tinkerers must turn to their adopted charge and adventurous rich girl Winnie to bridge two worlds amidst the winds of change – and cheese. The voice cast includes Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan and Simon Pegg.
Extras include audio commentary with directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, “The Making of The Boxtrolls” and legacy featurettes, feature-length storyboards, never-before-released animation test footage, an “Inside Laika featurette,” and a new forward by Ramin Zahed, editor in chief of Animation Magazine.
ParaNorman is a comedy thriller in which a small town comes under siege by zombies. The town’s only hope is misunderstood local boy Norman, who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul-whisperer bravely summons up all that makes a hero – courage and compassion – as he finds his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits. The voice cast includes Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein and John Goodman.
Extras include audio commentary with writer-director Chris Butler and co-director Sam Fell, “Peering Through the Veil” and legacy featurettes, feature-length storyboards, never-before-released animation test footage and an “Inside Laika featurette.”
Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan. The film follows clever, kindhearted Kubo as he ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town. But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey and Beetle and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen — a magical musical instrument — Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King and the evil twin Sisters to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family and fulfill his heroic destiny. The voice cast includes Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Art Parkinson, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Brenda Vaccaro.
Extras include audio commentary with director-producer Travis Knight, “Kubo’s Journey” and legacy featurettes, feature-length storyboards, never-before-released animation test footage and an “Inside Laika featurette.”