Laika Plan Stop-Motion And CG For “Dickens Meets Monty Python” Steampunk Fantasy, The Boxtrolls

Laika‘s adaptation of Alan Snow‘s fantasy novel Here Be Monsters has been named The Boxtrolls.

The film has been officially announced as the studio’s next picture, along with its voice cast: Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, and Tracy Morgan.

Here’s the official blurb:

A comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses.

At least, that’s the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells. The Boxtrolls have raised an orphaned human boy, Eggs (voiced by Mr. Hempstead-Wright), since infancy as one of their dumpster-diving and mechanical junk-collecting own.

When the Boxtrolls are targeted by villainous pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Mr. Kingsley), who is bent on eradicating them as his ticket to Cheesebridge society, the kindhearted band of tinkerers must turn to their adopted charge and adventurous rich girl Winnie (Ms. Fanning) to bridge two worlds amidst the winds of change – and cheese.

Sounds perfect for Laika’s stop motion stylings – though the film is actually going to blend stop motion with CG. Why? I’d love to know. Hopefully it’s not just a funding issue – stop motion has had a rocky time of late, at the box office.

There’s a lot of untapped potential in mixing techniques like this. I’m sure Laika will get somewhere with it.

The studio’s big cheese Travis Knight gave the project a good bit of hype:

The Boxtrolls is a visually dazzling mash-up of gripping detective story, absurdist comedy, and steampunk adventure with a surprisingly wholesome heart. It’s Dickens by way of Monty Python.

[Directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable] have crafted a strange and beautiful world replete with fantastical creatures, good-for-nothing reprobates, madcap antics, and rip-roaring feats of derring-do. But at its core, like all Laika films, The Boxtrolls is a moving and human story with timelessness and powerful emotional resonance.

With a release date set for October next year it shouldn’t be too long until we start seeing early hints of how this will look. Hopefully the audience for stop motion – old and decrepit as we apparently are – haven’t dried up and blown away on the wind by then.

Tsk! Kids today!