LAIKA Options “Wildwood,” Debut Novel From Colin Meloy, Frontman for Rock Group The Decemberists, and Award-Winning Illustrator Carson Ellis

Animation Studio Behind Oscar-Nominated “Coraline” Will Bring Fantasy Book to the Screen

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PORTLAND, OR–(MediaQuire – September 09, 2011) – LAIKA has optioned “Wildwood,” the debut HarperCollins children’s novel written by Colin Meloy, lead singer and songwriter for The Decemberists, with illustrations by award-winning artist Carson Ellis. The announcement was made today by Travis Knight, President & CEO of the animation studio. LAIKA, the Portland-based animation studio which produced the Oscar® and BAFTA® nominated feature film “Coraline,” is currently in production on the 3D stop motion animated feature film “ParaNorman.”

“‘Wildwood’ is a marvel, an exquisite, staggering, and lyrical work of art,” said Mr. Knight. “It’s an uncannily perfect fit for LAIKA, commingling the time-honored qualities of classic fantasies and fairy tales with a bold, contemporary sensibility. Colin’s captivating, melodic prose and Carson’s gorgeous, spellbinding illustrations form a rich bounty of ideas, language, and imagery. ‘Wildwood’ is a wonderful work of literature, and LAIKA is fully committed to honoring it with an exceptional, groundbreaking film.”

“Wildwood,” the first book in an epic middle-grade fantasy series full of magic, wonder, and danger set in an alternate version of modern-day Portland, Oregon, tells the story of Prue McKeel, whose ordinary life is changed forever when her younger brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, an enchanted and forbidding forest on the edge of Portland. No one’s ever gone in — or at least returned to tell of it. Within this secret world, Prue and her friend Curtis embark on a rescue mission and find themselves entwined in a violent struggle for freedom amidst warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. “Wildwood,” filled with 85 intricate and beautiful illustrations by artist Carson Ellis, will be published on August 30, 2011 by HarperCollins’ Balzer + Bray imprint. To view the animated trailer created by LAIKA/house for the book, please visit http://www.laika.com/details.php?id=399&company=house.

“Hands down, there is no other movie studio in the entire world besides LAIKA that I would entrust Wildwood to,” said Mr. Meloy. “Carson and I were prepared to stonewall any and all suitors for the movie rights, so close was this book to our hearts. However, when LAIKA came calling, our defenses promptly came down. There is no doubt in my mind that they will come to this story with the passion, imagination and general awesomeness required to make this book into a truly beautiful animated film.”

“I’m a stop motion enthusiast,” said Ms. Ellis, “and I’ve been a fan of LAIKA since we saw ‘Coraline’ a couple of years back. When we visited the studio and saw all the brilliant creative work happening there — someone building a waist-high New England village in painstaking detail, someone else sewing pinhead-sized rivets on tiny blue jeans — we were won over completely. It’s an amazing place staffed by patient, meticulous, super-talented people who wouldn’t work there if they didn’t love stop-motion animation. I’m so excited to see what ‘Wildwood’ will look like in their hands.”

About Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis:
Colin Meloy once wrote Ray Bradbury a letter, informing him that he “considered himself an author too.” He was 10 years old at the time. Since then, Colin has gone on to be the singer and songwriter for the band The Decemberists, where he channels all of his weird ideas into weird songs. This is his first time channeling those ideas into a novel.

Carson Ellis, who first rose to prominence for creating The Decemberists’ album covers, illustrated the bestsellers “The Composer is Dead” (Lemony Snicket) and “The Mysterious Benedict Society” (Trenton Lee Stewart), as well the notable children’s books “The Beautiful Stories of Life,” “Stagecoach Sal” and “Dillweed’s Revenge.”

Colin and Carson live with their son, Hank, in Portland, Oregon, quite near the Impassable Wilderness. www.wildwoodchronicles.com

About The Decemberists: Over the course of six albums and 10 years, the Portland, Oregon-based rock band The Decemberists have steadfastly followed their own creative path. They reached music’s top spot entirely on their own terms when their latest album, “The King is Dead,” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 after its release in January 2011. The Decemberists have sold over 1.5 million albums worldwide. They have performed on national TV shows including “The Colbert Report,” “Conan,” “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” and “The Late Show With David Letterman.” They have headlined the Newport Folk Festival, and have sold out major venues including Radio City Music Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.

About HarperCollins Children’s Books: HarperCollins Children’s Books is one of the leading publishers of children’s books. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many timeless treasures — “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” the “Ramona” series, “Where the Wild Things Are”; and popular new classics — “The Graveyard Book,” “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Warriors,” and “Fancy Nancy.” Consistently at the forefront of digital innovation, HarperCollins Children’s Books delights young readers through engaging storytelling in all formats, including ebooks and apps. HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, one of the leading English-language publishers in the world and a subsidiary of News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS) (NASDAQ: NWSA) (ASX: NWS) (ASX: NWSLV). Headquartered in New York, HarperCollins has publishing groups in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia/New Zealand, and India. You can visit HarperCollins Children’s Books at www.harpercollinschildrens.com and HarperCollins Publishers at www.harpercollins.com.

About LAIKA:
Fueled by the vision of its owner, NIKE Co-Founder and Chairman Phil Knight, and its President and CEO Travis Knight, LAIKA Inc. is an animation company specializing in feature films and commercials. LAIKA, located in Portland, Oregon, has a 30-year history of presenting the artistry of award-winning filmmakers, designers, and animators in the field of animated entertainment and commercials. LAIKA’s first feature, “Coraline,” was released by Focus Features in 2009 and was the first stop-motion animated feature to be conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3D. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for Outstanding Animated Feature, and won the prestigious Cristal Award at the Annecy International Animation Festival.

LAIKA is currently in production on its second 3D stop-motion animated feature film, “ParaNorman.” Directed by Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux) and Chris Butler (Head of Story on Coraline) from Mr. Butler’s original screenplay, the film will be released on August 17, 2012. The voice cast includes Academy Award® nominee Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Tucker Albrizzi (Bridesmaids), Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show), Alex Borstein (Family Guy), Jeff Garlin (Toy Story 3), John Goodman (Monsters, Inc.), Bernard Hill (Titanic), Academy Award® nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Leslie Mann (Rio), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (How to Train Your Dragon), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In), and Tonyâ„¢ and Emmy Awardâ„¢ winner Elaine Stritch (30 Rock).

LAIKA/house is a world-renowned commercial animation studio acclaimed for its skill in storytelling and character performance in a variety of animation media, including 2D, CG, and stop-motion. Its work has garnered the attention of top advertising agencies and has attracted clients such as Starbucks, Apple, Coca-Cola, ESPN, M&Ms, and Planters. For more information about LAIKA, please visit www.laika.com

Media Contacts:

For LAIKA:
Maggie Begley
MBC
Direct: 310.301.1785
Mobile: 310.749.3055
maggie@mbcprinc.com
www.mbcprinc.com