Coraline (film)

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Coraline
Coraline poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHenry Selick
Written byHenry Selick
Based onCoraline
by Neil Gaiman
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography
  • Pete Kozachik
  • Jace Disla
Edited by
Music byBruno Coulais
Production
companies
Distributed byFocus Features
Release date
  • February 5, 2009 (2009-02-05) (premiered)[1]
  • February 6, 2009 (2009-02-06) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$60 million[3]
Box office$124.6 million[3]

Coraline is a 2009 American stop-motion animated dark fantasy horror film written and directed by Henry Selick and based on Neil Gaiman's 2002 novella of the same name.[4] Produced by Laika as the studio's first feature film, it features the voice talents of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr., and Ian McShane. The film depicts an adventurous girl named Coraline finding an idealized parallel world behind a secret door in her new home, unaware that the alternative world contains a dark and sinister secret.

The film was theatrically released in the United States on February 6, 2009 by Focus Features after a world premiere at the Portland International Film Festival,[5] and was met with generally positive reviews from critics. The film grossed $16.85 million during its opening weekend, ranking third at the box office,[6] and by the end of its run had grossed over $124 million worldwide, making it the third highest-grossing stop-motion film of all time after Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The film won Annie Awards for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production, Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production and Best Production Design in an Animated Feature Production, and received nominations for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Plot[edit]

Coraline Jones and her parents move into an old mansion that has been divided up into flats; known as The Pink Palace. Coraline's parents struggle to complete their gardening catalog, so Coraline is neglected and bored consistently. While exploring, she meets the landlady's grandson, Wyborne "Wybie", Lovat and a black cat who follows him around. Wybie later leaves Coraline a button-eyed rag doll he discovered in his grandmother's trunk that eerily resembles her. Soon after, Coraline discovers a small door in the living room that is bricked up, but can be unlocked with a key that has a button-shaped top.

That night, Coraline is awoken by a mouse, who guides her through the door to a seemingly livelier version of the house. Coraline meets her Other Mother and Other Father, button-eyed doppelgängers of her parents who seem more attentive and caring. After having dinner with them, Coraline goes to bed and awakens back in the real world. Wybie tells Coraline about his grandmother's twin sister who disappeared as a child, leading his grandmother to believe she was stolen by an unknown force. Coraline's neighbors, Sergei Alexander Bobinsky, an eccentric gymnast who owns a mouse circus, and retired burlesque actresses April Spink and Miriam Forcible, cryptically warn her about the door and of imminent danger.

Coraline visits the Other World for a second and third time; on the second day, Coraline is accompanied by the mute Other Wybie and is entertained by the Other Bobinsky's mouse circus and the Other Father's beautiful garden. On the third day, the Other Spink and Other Forcible entertain Coraline with a musical show. Coraline also encounters the cat, who is able to speak in the Other World. The cat warns Coraline that The Other Mother is evil, although Coraline does not believe him. The Other Mother tells Coraline she stay there permanently, but only if she has buttons sewn over her eyes. Horrified, Coraline rejects the offer and quickly goes to bed. In the morning, however, Coraline finds herself still in the Other World. When she demands to return home, the Other Mother transforms into a more menacing version of herself and imprisons Coraline in a room behind a mirror. There, she meets the ghosts of the Other Mother's past victims, including Wybie's grandmother. The ghosts reveal that the Other Mother, whom they call the "Beldam", used the same doll Coraline had to spy on them to use their unhappiness to lure them into her world. When they accepted the Beldam's offer of having buttons sewn over their eyes, she trapped their souls. After Coraline promises to free them, the Other Wybie helps her escape back to the real world.

Coraline finds her parents missing, eventually realizing that they have been kidnapped by the Beldam. Spink gives Coraline her lucky adder stone, and she returns to the Other World accompanied by the cat. Coraline proposes a game to the Beldam: if she can find the ghost children's souls and her parents, they will all go free; if not, she will accept the Beldam's offer. With the stone, Coraline finds the children's souls, but with each one she collects, parts of the Other World disintegrate, until only the living room remains. The Beldam reveals herself to be a humanoid arachnid with needle-like fingers who resembles a skeleton. One ghost child warns her that even if Coraline succeeds, the Beldam will find a way to make her stay. Thinking quickly, Coraline tricks the Beldam into unlocking the door and, spotting her parents trapped in a snow globe, creates a diversion by throwing the cat at her. Coraline grabs the snow globe, narrowly escapes through the door, and closes and locks it, severing the Beldam's right hand in the process.

Coraline's parents reappear in the real world with no memory of what happened to them. That night, the ghost children thank her for freeing them, but warn her that the Beldam will never stop looking for the key. Coraline decides to drop it down an old well, but the Beldam's severed hand attacks her. Wybie arrives and, after a struggle, smashes the hand with a large rock. Coraline and Wybie then throw the key and the pieces of the hand into the well and seal it shut.

Later, Coraline and her parents, who have finally finished their catalog, host a party for their neighbors. Wybie introduces his grandmother and Coraline prepares to tell her about the adventure she had, and about her sister.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Dakota Fanning as Coraline Jones
  • Teri Hatcher as Mel Jones, Coraline's mother, the Beldam, also known as the Other Mother, an evil sorceress and the ruler of the Other World and the dragonflies that appear in Coraline's bedroom in the Other World.
  • Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French as April Spink and Miriam Forcible, respectively, a pair of retired burlesque actresses.
  • Keith David as The Cat, a sarcastic, mysterious, nameless black cat who has the abilities to traverse between the real world and the Other World and speak in the latter.
  • John Hodgman as Charlie Jones, Coraline's father, and the Other Father.
  • Robert Bailey Jr. as Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, the geeky, nervous 11-year-old grandson of Coraline's landlady. Wybie was an original character created for the film to make Coraline's character appear more social to the audience.[7]
  • Ian McShane as Sergei Alexander Bobinsky, nicknamed "Mr. B," an eccentric Chernobyl liquidator-turned gymnast who owns a mouse circus.
  • Carolyn Crawford as Mrs. Lovat, Wybie's grandmother and the owner of the Pink Palace Apartments.
  • Aankha Neal, George Selick, and Hannah Kaiser as the Ghost Children, the Beldam's previous victims, one of them being Mrs. Lovat's twin sister and Wybie's great-aunt.
  • Marina Budovsky and Harry Selick as Coraline's friends back at her former home in Michigan who appear in a picture frame in the Other World.

Production[edit]

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

Henry Selick[8]

Director Henry Selick met author Neil Gaiman just as Gaiman was finishing the novel Coraline, and given that Gaiman was a fan of Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas, he invited him to make a possible film adaptation. 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 that of 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, similar to The Wizard of Oz.[7] 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."[9]

Coraline was staged in a 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) warehouse in Hillsboro, Oregon.[8][10] The stage was divided into 50 lots,[11] which played host to nearly 150 sets.[8] 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.[10] More than 28 animators worked at a time on rehearsing or shooting scenes, producing 90–100 seconds of finished animation each week.[12] To capture stereoscopy for the 3D release, the animators shot each frame from two slightly apart camera positions.[7]

Every object on screen was made for the film.[7] 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.[13] The puppets had separate parts for the upper and lower parts of the head that could be exchanged for different facial expressions,[7] and the characters of Coraline could potentially exhibit over 208,000 facial expressions.[13] Computer artists composited separately-shot elements together, or added 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.[7]

At its peak, the film involved the efforts of 450 people,[8] including from 30[10] to 35[8] animators and digital designers in the Digital Design Group (DDG), directed by Dan Casey, and more than 250 technicians and designers.[10] 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.[8] The clothes also simulated wear using paint and a file.[7]

Music[edit]

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 had initially written 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.[14] Selick mentions that the main soloist, "a young girl you hear singing in several parts of the film," is coincidentally named Coraline.[14] Coraline won Coulais the 2009 Annie Award for best score for an animated feature.

No.TitlePerformer(s)Length
1."Sirens of the Sea"Michele Mariana 
2."Other Father Song"John Linnell 
3."Nellie Jean"Kent Melton 
4."Dreaming"Bruno Coulais, Teri Hatcher & The Children's Choir of Nice 

Release[edit]

Coraline was theatrically released on February 6, 2009.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States 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 on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom 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.[15] 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. A new edition from Shout! Factory under license from Universal was released on August 31, 2021.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18] The soundtrack was released digitally February 3, 2009, by E1 Music, and in stores on February 24, 2009.

Reception[edit]

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 & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which had grossed $16 million its opening weekend and ended up making more than $192 million worldwide; prior to the film's release, Dergarabedian thought Laika Studios "should be really pleased" were Coraline to make $10 million in its opening weekend.[10] In its US opening weekend, the film grossed $16.85 million, ranking third at the box office.[6] It made $15 million during its second weekend, bringing its U.S. total up to $35.6 million, $25.5 million of which came from 3D presentations.[19] As of November 2009, the film has grossed $75,286,229 in the United States and Canada and $49,310,169 in other territories, for a total of $124,596,398 worldwide.[3]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 90% based on 269 reviews, with an average rating of 7.80/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With its vivid stop-motion animation combined with Neil Gaiman's imaginative story, Coraline is a film that's both visually stunning and wondrously entertaining."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100 based on reviews from 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, calling it "a beautiful film about several nasty people", as well as "nightmare fodder for children, however brave, under a certain age."[22] David Edelstein said the film is "a bona fide fairy tale" that needed a "touch less entrancement and a touch more ... story."[23] 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."[24]

Accolades[edit]

Awards and nominations
Award Category Recipient(s) Result
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 an Animated Feature Production Henry Selick Nominated
Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Dawn French Nominated
Best Music in an Animated Feature Production Bruno Coulais Won
Best Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Travis Knight Nominated
Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Shane Prigmore; Shannon Tindle Won
Best Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Christopher Appelhans; Tadahiro Uesugi Won
Best Storyboarding in an Animated 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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hudetz, Mary (February 8, 2009). "Made in Oregon: animated 'Coraline'". KVAL. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  2. ^ "Coraline rated PG by the BBFC". BBFC. January 29, 2009. Archived from the original on April 24, 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". Wired.com. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  5. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (February 5, 2009). "'Coraline' premiere offers Portland some Hollywood glitter". OregonLive.com. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  6. ^ a b DiOrio, Carl (February 8, 2009). "Moviegoers into 'Into You'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "The Making of Coraline", Coraline DVD
  8. ^ a b c d e f McNichol, Tom (February 2009). "Hollywood Knights". Portland Monthly. Retrieved February 15, 2009.
  9. ^ Desowitz, Bill (January 23, 2009). "Tadahiro Uesugi Talks 'Coraline' Design". Animation World. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d e Mesh, Aaron (February 4, 2009). "Suspended Animation". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ J. McLean, Thomas (September 16, 2008). "On the Set with 'Coraline': Where the Motion Doesn't Stop". Animation World Network. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "Movie Coraline – DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  16. ^ https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Coraline-Blu-ray/292251/
  17. ^ "13th Annual Webby Awards Nominees & Winners". The Webby Awards. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2009.
  18. ^ Remo, Chris (June 16, 2008). "D3 Announces Coraline And Shaun The Sheep Adaptations". Gamasutra. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  19. ^ "Holdovers Live Under Killer Friday Debut". Box Office Mojo. February 15, 2009. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
  20. ^ "Coraline (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  21. ^ "Coraline Reviews". Metacritic. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
  22. ^ Roger Ebert (February 4, 2009). "A beautiful film about several nasty people". Retrieved 2021-09-02.
  23. ^ Edelstein, David (February 1, 2009). "What You See Is What You Get". New York Magazine. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
  24. ^ Scott, A.O. (February 6, 2009). "Cornered in a Parallel World". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2009.

External links[edit]