In the late 1990s, Will Vinton Studios, known for its stop-motion films and commercials, sought funds for more feature-length films and brought in outside investors, which included Nike, Inc. owner Phil Knight. In 1998, Knight made his initial investment and son Travis started work at the studio as an animator. In 2002, Phil Knight acquired financially struggling Will Vinton Studios to pursue feature-length productions. The following year, Henry Selick, director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, joined the studio as a supervising director. In July 2005, the successor to Will Vinton Studios, Laika, was founded and opened two divisions: Laika Entertainment for feature films and Laika/house for commercial work, such as advertisements and music videos. They also announced their first projects, a stop-motion film Coraline and CGI animated film Jack & Ben’s Animated Adventure.
The studio laid off a significant portion of its staff in 2008, when its second planned feature Jack & Ben's Animated Adventure was cancelled. The following year, the studio released its first feature film, Coraline, which received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. After directing Moongirl and Coraline, and unsuccessfully renegotiating his contract, Selick departed Laika in 2009. At the end of the year, the studio laid off more staff in its computer animation department to focus exclusively on stop-motion. Their second stop-motion feature film, ParaNorman opened August 17, 2012, which also received an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature nomination. After working on stop-motion commercials for clients such as Apple Inc., Fox Sports, ESPN and Coca-Cola, Laika spun off its advertising portion in July 2014, to focus on feature film production exclusively. The new independent commercial division is now called House Special. Their third film, The Boxtrolls was released on September 26, 2014 and was based on Alan Snow's fantasy-adventure novel, Here Be Monsters!. It was directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable and received an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature nomination as well.
Laika has also optioned Colin Meloy's fantasy novel Wildwood and Philip Reeve's fantasy book Goblins, as upcoming feature film adaptations. In March 2015, the company announced it would expand the studio in an effort to allow for production of one film per year.
|Coraline||February 6, 2009||Henry Selick|
|ParaNorman||August 17, 2012||Sam Fell, Chris Butler|
|The Boxtrolls||September 26, 2014||Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi|
|Kubo and the Two Strings||August 19, 2016||Travis Knight|
- Moongirl (2005)