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Laika Studios Announces Wildwood as the Screening of Next Film

A young girl looks across the river to Portland in black and white illustration from Wildwood.

One of the finest illustrations by Carson Ellis from Wild forest series.
Image: HarperCollins

Laika, then creator of beautiful stop motion animation films such as Coraline and Kubo and two strings, announced its newest project: an adaptation Wild forest, a 2011 novel by Colin Meloy, singer-songwriter of the indie rock band the is a Decembrist and illustrated by his wife Carson Ellis. The film is directed by Travis Knight, President of Laika and directed by excellent Transformers spin off Bumblebee

I haven’t heard of this book until this morning, but the official summary sounds like it’s right on Laiki Lane, which is a modern tale dark enough to inspire some intrigue: “Outside Portland lies Wildwood. You can’t go there. You don’t even have to know that it exists. But Prue McKeal is about to enter this magical wonderland. Her younger brother Mac has been carried away by the murder of a crow into the depths of the forest, and she – along with her hapless classmate Curtis – is about to bring him back. Prue might think she’s too old for fairy tales, but she just found herself in the center of one of them. One is filled with strange talking animals, rogue bandits and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. “

Sounds like Laika to me, and the studio must have thought so because Diversity reports that Laika actually acquired the rights to Meloy and Ellis’ book back in 2011, shortly after it was published. Occupied by studio ten years to finally begin production of stop-motion animation adaptations, but it really just shows how much remained interested in the project all these years. Knight is also a native of Oregon, and Wild forest extremely Portland, which probably helps too. (In accordance with Wikipedia, literary critic Anna Minard called the characters “wearing glasses, cycling, watching vinyl records, Kurosawa-style kids,” so yes.)

Wild forest was the first of a trilogy to be followed by Under the wild forest in 2012 and Wildwood imperium in 2015. If the film is successful, there may be more Wild forest on my way.

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