Coraline director Henry Selick has signed an exclusive long-term deal to make stop-motion features for Disney/Pixar. Selick began his animation career at Disney in the late '70s, and will again be in business with a number of long-time friends, including Disney Animation head John Lasseter and director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille).
Selick said in a statement:
I first met John Lasseter when we were classmates at CalArts. I've watched with awe and amazement as Pixar created a new way to make animated movies with computers.
Despite the advancements in technology, Lasseter's decision to bring Selick into the Disney/Pixar fold is the next logical step in bringing back the Disney-of-old, having reintroduced 2D animation to the studio with last year's The Princess and the Frog. Next stop? Black and white cartoons with racist subtexts??? No, not that far back! In my opinion, and I think many of you would agree, the cleanliness and fluidity they were able to achieve with the painstaking hand-crafted technique already looks pretty dang close to CGI animation, at least for the Focus-released Coraline, which was the most successful of last year's surprisingly stacked stop-motion crop -- Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mary and Max and A Town Called Panic -- with Coraline earning $75 million at the box-office and an Oscar nomination. Though the pre-Avatar 3D brought in some extra cash as well.
This would mark the second return to Disney for Selick, who made his directing debut at Disney in 1993 with the Tim Burton-produced The Nightmare Before Christmas, which earned more than $75 million at the box office (and who's merchandise decorates Hot Topics all year round, even if Christmas or Halloween are months away!) But his 1996 followup, James and Giant Peach, was a box office disappointment (earning only $28.9 million) and ended Disney's involvement with stop-motion.
Selick explained to Variety:
I'll quote Dick Cook right after James and the Giant Peach was finished. He said, 'We don't believe this is a viable medium anymore, and we're not going to do it,'? A few years later they shut down 2D. It's great that both of those things are back.
Selick will set up shop in the Bay Area, where he plans to write and direct features based on both original ideas and literary properties in his trademark stop-motion style.