Coraline (film)

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Coraline poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Henry Selick
Produced by Henry Selick
Claire Jennings
Screenplay by Henry Selick
Based on Coraline 
by Neil Gaiman
Starring Dakota Fanning
Teri Hatcher
Jennifer Saunders
Dawn French
John Hodgman
Ian McShane
Music by Bruno Coulais
Cinematography Pete Kozachik
Edited by Christopher Murrie
Distributed by Focus Features
Release dates
  • February 5, 2009 (2009-02-05) (Portland International Film Festival)[1]
  • February 6, 2009 (2009-02-06) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[3]
Box office $124,596,398[3]

Coraline is a 2009 American stop-motion animated 3D dark fantasy film based on Neil Gaiman's 2002 novel of the same name. It was produced by Laika and distributed by Focus Features. Written and directed by Henry Selick, it was released widely in United States theaters on February 6, 2009, after a world premiere at the Portland International Film Festival. The film was made with Gaiman's approval and cooperation.[4]

The film was released to critical acclaim,[5] and made $16.85 million during opening weekend, ranking third at the box office.[6] At the end of its box office run, the film had grossed over $124.5 million worldwide. Coraline won Annie Awards for best music, character design, production design and received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Animated Feature.


During the opening credits, hands are seen re-making a doll to resemble an 11-year-old girl. Coraline Jones moves with her parents from their home in Pontiac, Michigan, to the Pink Palace, a Victorian mansion renovated into an apartment in Ashland, Oregon, which is also occupied by retired actresses Misses Spink and Forcible, and eccentric Russian acrobat Mr. Bobinsky. With her parents perpetually working on a gardening catalog, thus unable to spend much time with her, Coraline feels neglected and decides to explore their new home as her father suggested, meeting Wyborn "Wybie" Lovat, the grandson of the apartments' landlady who she repeatedly insults; while exploring, Coraline finds a small door only to be sealed off by a brick wall. That night, Coraline is awakened by a mouse and follows it to the small door, where she discovers a long, dark corridor in the brick wall's place. Coraline goes through it and finds herself in the Other World, a fantastical parallel version of the Pink Palace inhabited by copies of her parents, called the "Other Mother" and "Other Father", who strongly resemble her parents, but have black buttons for eyes. These beings prove to be warmer and more attentive than Coraline's real parents (particularly the Other Mother, who does everything she can to impress Coraline). Coraline falls asleep in the Other World, but when she awakens the next morning, she finds herself back in her old world.

Despite warnings from her neighbors, Coraline continues to venture to the Other World at night to escape the doldrums of her real life, and is entertained by button-eyed "Other" versions of her neighbors, including a quiet Other Wybie, a fun Mr. Bobinsky who runs a circus and young Miss Spink and Miss Forcible who are great actresses. Back in the real world, while shopping for school clothes, Coraline asks her mom for mittens, only to be rejected. Angry with her mom, Coraline returns to the Other World. During her third visit, Coraline encounters a black cat from her own world (who has the ability to speak in the Other World), who warns Coraline of danger. He warns her that this place is not a "dream come true" and that the "Other Mother" is not a "mother" at all. She disregards his warnings until the Other Mother invites her to live in the Other World forever if she can sew buttons over her eyes. Horrified, Coraline pretends to be tired and hurries off to bed, only to find herself still in the other world when she awakens. Coraline attempts to leave by walking away from the house, only to be where she started. Coraline breaks into a room and finds the door to be blocked by the Other Mother. Coraline demands to return home and tells the Other Mother that she is not her mother. Enraged, the Other Mother transforms into a tall, slender, and monstrous form, trapping Coraline in a small room behind a mirror. There, she meets the ghosts of three children who lost their eyes and lives to the Other Mother. They plead with Coraline to avoid their fate and request that she find their eyes, which will free them from their imprisonment. With the help of the Other Wybie, Coraline escapes to her own world, but finds that her parents have been kidnapped by the Other Mother.

Armed with a seeing stone (provided by the real Miss Spink and Miss Forcible), Coraline returns to the Other World and challenges the Other Mother to a game to find her missing parents and the eyes of the ghost children; she agrees to stay in the Other World forever and have buttons sewn in her eyes if she loses. Coraline uses her seeing stone to find the ghosts' eyes and outwits the twisted inhabitants of the Other World guarding them, ultimately with the help of the black cat. She also finds her parents (who are trapped in a snow globe), but the ghost children speak to Coraline through the eyes, warning her the Other Mother (who has decayed further into a massive, arachnoid creature with hands made of sewing needles) will never let her go, even if she wins. Thinking quickly, Coraline tricks the Other Mother into opening the door to the real world and escapes through it, closing the door on the Other Mother's hand, severing it. Coraline finds her parents safe with no recollection of what happened and the ghost children at peace, but not long after, they warn her the Other Mother will still try to retrieve the key. To keep the Other Mother from returning, Coraline intends to drop the key to the door between her world and the Other World down a water well near her house; the Other Mother's severed hand, however, enters Coraline's world and tries to steal the key. Wybie arrives to help her, and the two destroy the hand. They then drop the remains (and the key) down the well. With her parents done with their work and able to spend time with their daughter, Coraline holds a garden party with her family and neighbors, including Wybie's grandmother. Coraline plans to tell Miss Lovat (Wybie's grandma) her adventure and what really happened to her twin sister, who is now known to be one of the ghost children. Coraline contents with her new life and the black cat looking to the audience, walking by a pole and disappearing.


  • Dakota Fanning as Coraline Jones, a brave, clever, curious 11-year-old[7][8] girl with dark blue hair. She is annoyed by not being taken seriously by (in her opinion) crazy adults, people constantly mistaking her name for Caroline, and her mundane and bland life. Gaiman describes her as "full of 'vim' and 'spunk' and all those wonderful old-fashioned words."[citation needed]
  • Teri Hatcher as Mel Jones, Coraline's busy mother, and the Other Mother. In the film, Mel has a brace around her neck from a truck crash Coraline mentioned; the Other Mother has a turtleneck jumper instead. Mel is a writer working on a gardening catalog. She loves her daughter, but is very busy and doesn't always give her the attention that Coraline thinks she needs. The Other Mother is the creator of the other world and its inhabitants, she can also transform herself into different people, as shown after Coraline re-visits the other world after mistaking The Other Mother as her real one. Teri Hatcher describes Other Mother as the seemingly "perfect mom, because she's a perfect cook and has the perfect answer to every question, and later on she becomes quite monstrous."[citation needed] Her true form is a spider-like witch with a bony face and hands fashioned from sewing needles. The three ghost children refer to her as "the beldam", an archaic word meaning "good lady" but used to refer to a "hag" or a "witch".
  • Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French as Miss April Spink and Miss Miriam Forcible respectively, a pair of retired burlesque actresses. They own several Scottish Terriers (including the stuffed remains of their dead ones) and talk in theater jargon. The Other Spink and Forcible are young, beautiful, Shakespeare-quoting acrobats and later they merge as a green and pink monster made out of taffy and the dogs turn into dog-bats. Saunders and French both collaborated in the animated series of Pongwiffy.
  • John Hodgman as Charlie Jones, Coraline's father, and the Other Father. Hodgman described him as "the kind of guy who walks around a banana peel and falls into a manhole."[citation needed] Author Neil Gaiman describes him as a man who "does that thing that parents do when they embarrass their kids and somehow think they're being cool."[citation needed] The Other Father is a singer-pianist, as well as a gardener. He acts like the Other Mother's slave, showing a scared and traumatized attitude. However, he still seems to retain some aspects of Coraline's real father, repeatedly stating that the Other Mother is forcing him to do this and that, and that he truly does not want to hurt Coraline.
  • Ian McShane as Mr. Bobinsky (his full name is Sergei Alexander Bobinsky, and friends call him Mr. B.), one of Coraline's neighbors. He is a blue-skinned Russian giant who once trained as a gymnast and lives on a steady diet of beets. While not explained in the film, his blue skin may perhaps be due to his time as a Chernobyl Liquidator, for which he wears a Liquidator medal on his sleeveless shirt.[9] Coraline's mother believes him to be a drunk, but Coraline points out that he's just eccentric. The Other Bobinsky is the ringmaster of a circus of rats disguised as jumping mice, and later exists only as a coat filled with rats.
  • Keith David as The Cat, a sarcastic, mysterious, nameless black cat from Coraline's world who appears and disappears at will and has the ability to speak in the Other World. He forms a bond with Coraline and acts as her guide and mentor throughout her journey.
  • Robert Bailey, Jr. as Wyborn "Wybie" Lovat, the geeky, nervous 11-year-old grandson of Coraline's landlady. Wybie is a character introduced for the film adaptation so that the viewer "wouldn't have a girl walking around, occasionally talking to herself."[10] Though Coraline finds him creepy and regularly insults him, the two end up becoming friends. The Other Wybie has been rendered incapable of speech by the Other Mother, as she thought Coraline would prefer him that way.
  • Carolyn Crawford as Mrs. Lovat, Wybie's presumably overprotective grandmother and the owner of the Pink Palace Apartments. She originally grew up in the old Victorian mansion with her twin sister, who mysteriously vanished, kidnapped by the Other Mother. Believing that someone "stole" her sister, Mrs. Lovat moved out of her childhood home and divided it into three apartments, which she rents. Afraid of the Beldam claiming another child, she does not allow Wybie to enter it, nor allow any tenants with children to rent the apartments.


"Coraline [was] a huge risk. But these days in animation, the safest bet is to take a risk."

Henry Selick[11]

Director Henry Selick met author Neil Gaiman just as he was finishing the novel Coraline, and given that Gaiman was a fan of Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas, he invited him to a possible adaptation of the film. As Selick thought a direct adaptation would lead to "maybe a 47-minute movie", his screenplay had some expansions, such as the creation of Wybie. When looking for a design away from the style seen in most animation, Selick discovered the work of Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi and invited him to become the concept artist. One of Uesugi's biggest influences was on the color palette, which was muted in reality and more colorful in the Other World.[10] Uesugi declared that "at the beginning, it was supposed to be a small project over a few weeks to simply create characters; however, I ended up working on the project for over a year, eventually designing sets and backgrounds, on top of drawing the basic images for the story to be built upon."[12]

Coraline was staged in a 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) warehouse in Hillsboro, Oregon.[11][13] The stage was divided into 50 lots,[14] which played host to nearly 150 sets.[11] Among the sets were three miniature Victorian mansions, a 42-foot (12.8 m) apple orchard, and a model of Ashland, Oregon including tiny details such as banners for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.[13] More than 28 animators would be working at any one time on rehearsing or shooting scenes, producing 90–100 seconds of finished animation each week.[15] To add the stereoscopy for the 3D release, the animators would shoot each frame from two slightly apart camera positions.[10]

Every object on screen was specifically made for the film.[10] The crew used three 3D printing systems from Objet in the development and production of the film. Thousands of high-quality 3D models, ranging from facial expressions to doorknobs were printed in 3D using the Polyjet matrix systems, which enable the fast transformation of CAD (computer-aided design) drawings into high-quality 3D models.[16] The puppets had separate parts for the upper and lower parts of the head, that could be exchanged for different facial expressions.[10] The characters of Coraline could potentially exhibit over 208,000 facial expressions.[16] Computer artists would composite separatedly shot elements together, or add some elements of their own which had to look handcrafted instead of computer-generated – for instance, the flames were done with traditional animation and painted digitally, and the fog was dry ice.[10]

At its peak, the film involved the efforts of 450 people,[11] including from 30[13] to 35[11] animators and digital designers in the Digital Design Group (DDG) directed by Dan Casey and more than 250 technicians and designers.[13] One crew member, Althea Crome, was hired specifically to knit miniature sweaters and other clothing for the puppet characters, sometimes using knitting needles as thin as human hair.[11] The clothes would also simulate wear using paint and a file.[10] Several students from The Art Institute of Portland were also involved in making the film.

The soundtrack for Coraline features songs composed by French composer Bruno Coulais with one, "Other Father Song", by They Might Be Giants. The Other Father's singing voice is provided by John Linnell, one of the singers from the band. They wrote 10 songs for the film; when a melancholy tone was decided, all but one were cut. Coulais' score was performed by the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra and features choral pieces sung by the Children's Choir of Nice in a nonsense language.[17] Selick mentions that the main soloist, "a young girl you hear singing in several parts of the film" is coincidentally named Coraline.[17] Coraline won Coulais the 2009 Annie Award for best score for an animated feature.


Box office[edit]

According to Paul Dergarabedian, a film business analyst with Media by Numbers, for the film to succeed it needed a box office comparable to Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which grossed $16 million its opening weekend and ended up making more than $192 million worldwide; prior to the film's release, Dergarabedian thought Laika "should be really pleased" if it made close to $10 million on its opening weekend.[13]

In its US opening weekend, the film made $16.85 million, ranking third at the box office.[6] It made $15 million on its second weekend, bringing its U.S. total up to $35.6 million, $25.5 million of which coming from 3D presentations.[18] As of November 2009, the film had grossed $75,286,229 in the United States and Canada and $49,310,169 in other territories, making a total of $123,106,072 worldwide.[3]

Critical response[edit]

Coraline received critical acclaim. As of April 2012, the film has a 90% "Certified Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes,[5] and an 80 out of 100 at Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[19] David Edelstein said the film is "a bona fide fairy tale" that needed a "touch less entrancement and a touch more ... story."[20]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times called the film "exquisitely realized" with a "slower pace and a more contemplative tone than the novel. It is certainly exciting, but rather than race through ever noisier set pieces toward a hectic climax in the manner of so much animation aimed at kids, Coraline lingers in an atmosphere that is creepy, wonderfully strange and full of feeling."[21]

Home media[edit]

The film was released in the United States on DVD and Blu-ray on July 21, 2009 by Universal Studios Home Entertainment. A 3-D version comes with four sets of 3-D glasses—specifically the green-magenta anaglyph image.

Coraline was released in the United Kingdom on DVD and Blu-ray on October 12, 2009. A 3-D version of the film was also released on a 2-Disc Collector's Edition.

The DVD opened to first week sales of 1,036,845 and over $19 million in revenue. Total sales stand at over 2.6 million units and over $45 million in revenue.[22]

A two-disc Blu-ray 3D set which includes a stereoscopic 3D on the first disc and an anaglyph 3D image was released in 2011.

Other media[edit]

The website for Coraline involves an interactive exploration game where the player can scroll through Coraline's world. It won the 2009 Webby Award for "Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphics," both by the people and the Webby organization. It was also nominated for the Webby "Movie and Film" category.[23]

On June 16, 2008, D3 Publisher announced the release of a video game based on the film. It was developed by Papaya Studio for the Wii and PlayStation 2 and by Art Co. for Nintendo DS. It was released on January 27, 2009, close to the film's theatrical release.[24]

The soundtrack was released digitally February 3, 2009 by E1 Music, and in stores on February 24, 2009.


  • Honored with special achievement award (Martin Meunier, Brian McLean [for their Rapid Prototyping (RP) advances])

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Henry Selick Nominated
American Film Institute Awards Best 10 Movies Won
Annie Awards
Best Animated Feature Nominated
Best Directing in a Feature Production Henry Selick Nominated
Best Voice Acting in a Feature Production Dawn French Nominated
Best Music in an Animated Feature Production Bruno Coulais Won
Best Character Animation in a Feature Production Travis Knight Nominated
Best Character Design in a Feature Production Shane Prigmore; Shannon Tindle Won
Best Production Design in a Feature Production Christopher Appelhans; Tadahiro Uesugi Won
Best Storyboarding in a Feature Production Chris Butler Nominated
Annecy International Animated Film Festival Best Feature – Tied Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
BAFTA Children’s Award Best Feature Film Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Cinema Audio Society Awards
Lifetime Achievement Henry Selick Won
Career Achievement (sound designer/re-recording mixer) Randy Thom Won
EDA [Alliance of Women Film Journalists] Award
Best Animated Female ([the character of] Coraline) Won
Best Animated Film Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects, Foley, Music, Dialogue and ADR Animation in a Feature Film Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
People's Choice Awards Best Animated 3D Movie of 2009 Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Producer of the Year in Animated Motion Picture Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Feature Won
St. Louis Film Critics Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards
Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Claire Jennings, Henry Selick Nominated
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Coraline – Lead Animators Travis Knight and Trey Thomas Nominated
Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture John Allan Armstrong, Richard Kent Burton, Craig Dowsett Nominated
Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Feature Motion Picture Deborah Cook, Matthew DeLeu, Paul Mack, Martin Meunier Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hudetz, Mary (February 6, 2009). "Made in Oregon: animated 'Coraline'". KVAL. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Coraline rated PG by the BBFC". BBFC. January 29, 2009. Retrieved April 5, 2009. Run Time 100m 19s 
  3. ^ a b c "Coraline". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  4. ^ Savage, Annaliza (November 14, 2008). "Gaiman Calls Coraline the Strangest Stop-Motion Film Ever". (Condé Nast Digital). Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Coraline Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b DiOrio, Carl (February 8, 2009). "Moviegoers into 'Into You'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ Wojczuk, Montana (February 25, 2009). "Coraline Hits the Screen, Stage and Page". Paste Magazine. Retrieved December 7, 2014. ...Seeing a real 11-year old girl in peril,... 
  8. ^ Ulaby, Neda (February 5, 2009). "Henry Selick, Keeping Stop-Motion Moving Ahead". NPR. Retrieved December 7, 2014. The title character, aged 11,.. 
  9. ^ Henry Selick (Director). Coraline DVD Commentary. Event occurs at 00:25:00. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "The Making of Coraline", Coraline DVD
  11. ^ a b c d e f McNichol, Tom (February 2009). "Hollywood Knights". Portland Monthly. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  12. ^ Desowitz, Bill (January 23, 2009). "Tadahiro Uesugi Talks 'Coraline' Design". Animation World. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Mesh, Aaron (February 4, 2009). "Suspended Animation". Willamette Week. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Backstage view (19th of 21 backlot production photos)". David Strick's Hollywood Backlot (Los Angeles Times). August 7, 2008. Retrieved February 15, 2009. Backstage view of the facility in which Coraline's stop-motion animation is filmed in Portland, Oregon. The Coraline stage is divided into approximately 50 units separated by black curtains. Each unit contains a different set that is in the process of being dressed, lit, rigged or shot. 
  15. ^ J. McLean, Thomas (September 16, 2008). "On the Set with 'Coraline': Where the Motion Doesn't Stop". Animation World Network. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Objet Geometries (February 5, 2009). "Objet Geometries' 3-D Printers Play Starring Role in New Animated Film Coraline". PR Newswire UK. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Capone (February 2, 2009). "Capone Talks with CORALINE Director and Wizard Master Henry Selick!!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Holdovers Live Under Killer Friday Debut". Box Office Mojo. February 15, 2009. Retrieved February 16, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Coraline (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  20. ^ Edelstein, David (February 1, 2009). "What You See Is What You Get". New York Magazine. Retrieved February 16, 2009. 
  21. ^ Scott, A.O. (February 6, 2009). "Cornered in a Parallel World". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Movie Coraline – DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services,. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  23. ^ "13th Annual Webby Awards Nominees & Winners". The Webby Awards. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2009. 
  24. ^ Remo, Chris (June 16, 2008). "D3 Announces Coraline And Shaun The Sheep Adaptations". Gamasutra. Retrieved June 16, 2008. 

External links[edit]