Variety is reporting that Nike mogul Phil Knight’s Laika animation studio and Focus Pictures have settled on February 6th, 2009 as the date for the wide release of the stop-motion animated adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.  Coraline, which was directed by Henry Selick (director of The Nightmare Before Christmas) is Laika’s first production, and it will get a limited release in December so that it will be able to compete for the Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2009.  Coraline features a top flight vocal cast including Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) and wunderkind Dakota Fanning (see “Dakota Fanning Voices Coraline”).  Gaiman’s beloved children’s novel, which features evocative illustrations by Dave McKean, has sold over 130,000 copies in hardcover alone.  It is also out in paperback and Harper Collins has just published a hardcover graphic novel adaptation by P. Craig Russell ($18.99, ISBN 978-0060825430).


In addition to producing stop-motion features, Laika is also planning to create computer animated films on its new campus in Tualitin, Oregon.  While Knight supplied the entire $50-70 million budget for Coraline, he is looking to partner 50/50 on a number of new projects Laika has in development including the steampunk YA novel Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow, Jack and Ben, a Finding Nemo-type adventure about two Bluebirds involved in a long and difficult migration, and Paranorman, the saga of a small town laboring under a curse that can be saved only by a 13-year-old boy, but nobody will listen to him.