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Studio Laika Announces Wildwood as Next Movie Adaptation

A young girl stares across the river at Portland in a black and white illustration from Wildwood

One of Carson Ellis’ lovely illustrations from the Wildwood series.
Image: HarperCollins

Laika, the maker of fine stop-motion animated movies such as Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, has announced its newest project: an adaptation of Wildwood, the 2011 YA novel by Colin Meloy, singer/songwriter of the indie rock band the Decemberists, and illustrated by his wife Carson Ellis. The film will be directed by Travis Knight, president of Laika and the director of the excellent Transformers spin-off Bumblebee.

I hadn’t heard of the book before this morning, but the official summary sounds like it’s right up Laika’s alley, which is to say a modern fairy tale that’s just dark enough to offer some suspense: “Beyond Portland’s city limits lies Wildwood. You’re not supposed to go there. You’re not even supposed to know it exists. But Prue McKeel is about to enter this enchanted wonderland. Her baby brother Mac has been taken by a murder of crows into the forest’s depths, and she—along with her hapless classmate Curtis—is going to get him back. Prue might think she’s too old for fairytales, but she’s just found herself at the center of one. One filled with strange talking animals, roguish bandits, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions.”

Sounds like Laika to me, and the studio must have thought so as well because Variety reports that Laika actually optioned the rights to Meloy and Ellis’ book back in 2011, shortly after it was published. It’s taken the studio a full decade to finally start production on the stop-motion animated adaptation, but that really just goes to show how much it has stayed interested in the project during all these years. Knight is also a native of Oregon, and Wildwood is extremely Portland-y, which also probably helps. (According to Wikipedia, literary critic Anna Minard called the characters “bespectacled, bike-riding, vinyl-browsing, Kurosawa-referencing children,” so, yeah.)

Wildwood was the first of a trilogy, which was followed by Under Wildwood in 2012 and Wildwood Imperium in 2015. If the movie is a success, there may be more Wildwood on the way.


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