Award-Winning Animation Studio LAIKA Expands Into Live Action

Oregon Studio Acquires Rights to Screenwriter John Brownlow’s Debut Action Thriller Novel Seventeen

aiphotoimaging laika studio animationLAIKA, known for the Academy Award®-nominated animated films Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings and Missing Link, is expanding into live action. The studio has optioned Seventeen, the upcoming first novel by acclaimed screenwriter John Brownlow (The Minaturist, Sylvia). Currently in production on its sixth animated feature film, LAIKA secured the rights in an intense bidding war and plans to adapt it as a live action project. The announcement was made today by Travis Knight, President & CEO.

“For the past 15 years, LAIKA has been committed to making movies that matter,” says Knight. “Across mediums and genres, our studio has fused art, craft, and technology in service of bold, distinctive, and enduring stories. With Seventeen, LAIKA is taking that philosophy in an exciting new direction.”

“Seventeen is a stiff cocktail of wicked wit, exhilarating action, and raw emotion,” Knight continues. “John has such a wonderfully unique voice. He’s crafted a brilliant universe with its own powerful identity. Seventeen is a thriller with soul, a sinuous adrenaline-fueled actioner with a sincere heart beating underneath its rippling pectorals.”

Author and screenwriter John Brownlow is well known for his film and television credits. He is the screenwriter of the feature film Sylvia starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig and wrote and executive produced the three-part BBC limited series The Minaturist, which starred Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit). He also wrote the four-episode limited series Fleming, which starred Dominic Cooper as James Bond author Ian Fleming.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be developing Seventeen for the screen with LAIKA,” says Brownlow. “As a long-time fan of LAIKA’s movies for their vision, heart, craft, intelligence and ambition, I couldn’t have hoped for the novel or the universe it inhabits to have found a better or more exciting home. I’m beyond honored to be part of their plans for the future.”

UK publisher Hodder & Stoughton has preemptively acquired worldwide publishing rights to Seventeen. Hanover Square will publish the book in the US in 2022. LAIKA was represented in the deal by CAA. John Brownlow is represented by George Davis at Nelson Davis LLP, Jessica Sykes at Independent Talent Group and CAA.

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46th Annual Saturn Awards Nominees Announced

creative media aiphotoimaging The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films has unveiled the nominations for the 46th Annual Saturn Awards today.

Due to the unprecedented challenges that face the motion picture and television community during this global crisis, the organization made necessary changes to present this year’s awards show. The Academy extended the nomination period 16 months this year covering a wider selection of submissions between July 15, 2019 through November 15, 2020 and the group extended the eligibility rules to include streaming and VOD in addition to the theatrical release of motion pictures.

This year’s show honoring the best and most significant achievements in genre film, television and theater will be held later this year with details to be announced. The recipients of Lifetime Achievement Awards including The Dan Curtis Legacy Award, previously awarded to such luminaries as Vince Gilligan, Bryan Fuller and Sarah Schechter will be announced shortly. The Saturn Awards ceremony will again be produced by the organization and will be honoring the best and most significant achievements in genre film, television and theatre. The Academy was founded in 1972 by Doctor Donald A. Reed and is one year shy of celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Lucasfilm/Disney’s Star Wars franchise dominated the Saturn nominations with Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker earning 12 noms in features, and The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars in TV/Streaming. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet boasted an impressive 9 nom, Doctor Sleep scared up 8, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, 7 apiece, and Birds of Prey and Disney’s live action Mulan, 6. Directors Gina Prince-Bythewood of Netflix’s The Old Guard and Niki Caro of Disney’s Mulan lead the diverse and talented pack of film nominees, which included such talent as Delroy Lindo (Da Five Bloods), John David Washington (Tenet), Yifei Liui and Donnie Yen (Mulan), Zazie Beetz (Joker),
Jurnee Smollet and Ella Jay Basco (Birds of Prey), Kyliegh Curran (Doctor Sleep) as well as talented screenwriters, editors, costumers and Special FX artists.

See the 46th Annual Saturn Awards Nominees >>
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Heavy Metal’s WonderWerk Podcast Debuts Today

Heavy Metal Entertainment has announced the release of the first full episode of WonderWerk, a scripted anthology series, featuring upcoming episodes written by David Arquette & Cliff Dorfman, Dan Fogler, George C. Romero, Brendan Columbus, and Ron Marz. The podcast was created in collaboration with Heavy Metal Entertainment, as part of the ongoing partnership between Heavy Metal and DIGA Studios. The debut episode, The Black Ruins of Aramoor, was written by Bart & Michelle Sears can be seen here: https://wonderwerk.ffm.to/ep01

“WonderWerk is the sci-fi, fantasy and horror prowess of Heavy Metal in audio form. This is a pure, immersive experience for genre lovers, not a passive, time-killer podcast,” says Heavy Metal CEO Matthew Medney. “We’ve created an experience not unlike a movie, one that demands your focus and allows you to disappear within the folds of your mind.”
“We wanted to create something that combined the best qualities of audiobooks and podcasts–something that felt cinematic in the audio space,” said Patrick Smith, Lead Alternative Programming Producer for DIGA Studios. “WonderWerk does just that. Each week is a surprising, unexpected story inspired by the scary tales we’ve been telling around the campfire for centuries, and we can’t wait for the world to listen.”

When asked, Bart & Michelle Sears said this about the Episode:

The Black Ruins of Aramoor was birthed from every sword and sorcery story we consumed growing up, filled with blood and dark magic and death, imbued with a fatalism not often found in other genres, but common as the gore splattered pages filling any good, dark, barbaric saga. The amazing thing about writing this story wasn’t the writing, it was the listening, WonderWerk has done a brilliant job realizing our tale of gloom into, well, I guess what can be best described as a one-man radio play that is simply mesmerizing. The story of Barran, a Gundishman, a slayer and hunter, who appears like a revenant out of the icy blizzard, is a thriller, so pull your stump up to the fire, fill your mug with grog, and settle in for a wee bedtime tale…
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Denis Villeneuve Debuts First Look at Key Timothée Chalamet ‘Dune’ Action Scene

A couple weeks after the first character photos from Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” dropped online, now comes a first taste of what the director’s big-budget action scenes will look like on screen. Empire magazine has premiered a new still from “Dune” (see below) that shows Timothée Chalamet and Josh Brolin in the midst of one of the film’s big action moments. Chalamet’s protagonist Paul Atreides is seen balancing on an airborne ornithopter alongside Brolin’s Gurney Halleck, Paul’s weapons teacher. The characters are flying over the desert planet Arrakis.

In a statement to Empire magazine, Villeneuve called the scene being depicted below one of the pivotal moments for Chalamet’s lead character. “It’s Paul’s first contact with the deep desert, where he’s mesmerized by it,” the filmmaker told Empire.

“He has a strange feeling of being home. There’s a lot of action at this specific moment, and [it’s] one of the scenes in the movie that I’m starting to get pretty proud of.”

Chalamet had a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” but “Dune” marks the actor’s first time leading a major Hollywood tentpole. The Oscar nominee told Vanity Fair last month that he was attracted to “Dune” because of Paul’s character arc. “The immediately appealing thing about Paul was the fact that in a story of such detail and scale and world-building, the protagonist is on an anti-hero’s-journey of sorts,” he said. “He thinks he’s going to be sort of a young general studying his father and his leadership of a fighting force before he comes of age, hopefully a decade later, or something like that.”

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“The Witcher” Already Renewed For Its Second Season

By Creative Media Times

Netflix has already picked up the second season of The Witcher, a month before the series premieres.

“I’m so thrilled to announce: Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri will be back for more adventures… in Season Two,” said showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich on Twitter.

“I could not be more proud of what the amazing cast and crew of The Witcher have accomplished, and can’t wait for the world to dig in and enjoy these stories with us.”

The upcoming fantasy web television series is based on the book series of the same name by Andrzej Sapkowski and stars Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, Anya Chalotra as Yennefer, and Freya Allan as Ceri.

Season 1 of The Witcher is set to debut on Netflix on December 20.

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