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First Look: Laika & "Ozark" Creator's Neo-Noir "Night Gardner"


While it's business as usual in the studios, one that has worked to build it's profile is that of the the studio Laika. Having built itself up as one that specializes in the niche style of stop-motion animation, they have had such successes as Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. While those movies show a studio not afraid to approach dark subject matter, it is perhaps their next project with Ozark creator Bill Dubuque that will see them express it more viscerally on a visual level. That of their upcoming, gritty folktale, The Night Gardner.

Based on an original idea by Dubuque (who is also set to pen the script), Laika has described the project (via Entertainment Weekly) as "a gritty neo-noir folktale centered on a young man in rural Missouri fighting to keep his family together in the wake of a tragedy" along with one that will paint an unflinching portrait of sacrifice, self-reliance, and revenge." Taking the helm of the film is Laika CEO Travis Knight who previously directed Kubo and saw success in the live-action genre by making the first well-received Transformers film for Paramount, Bumblebee. Knight will begin production after completing Laika's sixth stop-motion feature Wildwood (based on the best-selling novel of the same name). Knight had this to say about the film:

"The Night Gardener is a beautiful and timeless story that quickens the pulse as often as it breaks the heart. Bill is a masterful storyteller. He's crafted a lyrical world layered with complex characters, provocative ideas, and keenly felt emotion. It's gonna be one helluva movie."

Dubuque returned the praise by extending affection towards the studio for picking up the story:

"I'm delighted that Travis Knight saw in The Night Gardener a story worthy of the time-intensive process and collective talent of LAIKA's in-house artisans. LAIKA's creativity and dedication to detail is, in my opinion, as close as one can come to conjuring storytelling magic."

The title image is the first look at the film displays the more mature tone the film will go for, indicated by the bloody bullet that spatters across white flower petals. Indeed, The Night Gardner will be a different film for Laika. Stay tuned!

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