Coraline (film)

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Coraline poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHenry Selick
Screenplay byHenry Selick
Based onCoraline
by Neil Gaiman
Produced by
  • Pete Kozachik
Edited by
Music byBruno Coulais
Distributed byFocus Features
Release dates
Running time
100 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$60 million[3][4]
Box office$124.6 million[3]

Coraline is a 2009 American 3-D stop-motion animated dark fantasy horror film written and directed by Henry Selick and based on Neil Gaiman's novella of the same name.[5] 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 tells the story of its titular character discovering an idealized parallel universe behind a secret door in her new home, unaware that it contains a dark and sinister secret.

Just as Gaiman was finishing his novella in 2002, he met Selick and invited him to make a film adaptation, as Gaiman was a fan of Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. When Selick thought that a direct adaptation would lead to "maybe a 47-minute movie", the screenplay had some expansions, like the introduction of Wybie, who was not present in the original novel. Selick invited Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi to become the concept artist upon discovering his work, when looking for a design away from that of most animation. His biggest influences were on the color palette, which was muted in reality and more colorful in the Other World, similar to The Wizard of Oz. To capture stereoscopy for the 3D release, the animators shot each frame from two slightly apart camera positions. Production of the stop-motion animation feature took place at a warehouse in Hillsboro, Oregon. Bruno Coulais composed the film's musical score.

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 on February 5,[6] and received critical acclaim. The film grossed $16.85 million during its opening weekend, ranking third at the box office,[7] 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 & 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.


Coraline Jones struggles to adapt to her new life after she and her workaholic parents move from Pontiac, Michigan to the Pink Palace Apartments in Ashland, Oregon. She meets the landlady's grandson, Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, and a stray black cat. Later, Wybie gives her a button-eyed ragdoll from his grandmother's trunk that eerily resembles Coraline. The doll guides Coraline to a small door in her apartment with a bricked up wall behind it.

That night, a mouse leads Coraline back to the door, now a portal leading to a parallel universe, where Coraline meets her Other Mother and Father, button-eyed doppelgängers of her parents who appear more attentive and caring. She returns home the next morning, where Wybie recounts the disappearance of his great-aunt. Coraline's neighbors Sergei Alexander Bobinsky, an eccentric Chernobyl liquidator-turned-gymnast who owns a mouse circus, and retired burlesque actresses April Spink and Miriam Forcible cryptically warn her about imminent danger.

Despite the warnings, Coraline visits the Other World twice more. Accompanied by the mute Other Wybie, she is entertained by the dimension's doppelgängers of her neighbors and meets the cat, who can traverse between the two worlds and speaks in the Other World. On Coraline's third visit, the Other Mother offers to let her stay in the Other World permanently, in exchange for having buttons sewn over her eyes. Horrified, Coraline tries to escape back to her world, but the Other Mother imprisons her in a room behind a mirror.

There, the ghosts of past victims, including Wybie's great-aunt, tell Coraline how the Other Mother, whom they call the Beldam, used ragdolls of themselves to spy and lure them to the Other World. After accepting the Beldam's offer to sew buttons over their eyes, she robbed them of their souls. The ghosts explain that they can only be freed by retrieving the essences of their souls, which the Beldam has hidden throughout the Other World. Coraline promises to do so, and is rescued by the Other Wybie, who helps her return home.

Coraline realizes the Beldam has kidnapped her parents, forcing her to return to the Other World. Accompanied by the cat, Coraline proposes a game: if she can find her parents and the essences of the ghosts' souls, they will all go free; if not, she will finally accept the Beldam's offer. The Beldam agrees and Coraline searches for the souls' essences, discovering that the Beldam murdered the Other Wybie for his defiance. As she finds each essence, parts of the Other World turn lifeless as the entire dimension eventually disintegrates.

Coraline encounters the Beldam in her true arachnid-like form, and the ghost of Wybie's great-aunt warns that the Beldam will not honor her bargain. Tricking the Beldam into opening the door to the real world by claiming that her parents are behind it, Coraline throws the cat at her and rescues her parents, who are trapped in a snow globe. Coraline narrowly escapes through the door, severing the Beldam's right hand.

Back home, Coraline reunites with her parents, who have forgotten about their capture. That night, the ghosts appear in Coraline's dream and thank her for freeing them, but warn that the Beldam is still after the key needed to unlock the door. Coraline decides to drop the key down an old well, but the Beldam's severed hand attacks her. Wybie arrives and, after a struggle, destroys the hand with a large rock. The duo toss the key and the hand's remnants into the well and seal it. The next day, Coraline and her parents host a party for their neighbors, including Wybie's grandmother, whom Coraline and Wybie prepare to tell about her missing sister's fate.

Voice cast[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, who was not present in the original novel. 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.[9] 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."[10]

Coraline was staged in a 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) warehouse in Hillsboro, Oregon.[8][11] The stage was divided into 50 lots,[12] 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.[11] More than 28 animators worked at a time on rehearsing or shooting scenes, producing 90–100 seconds of finished animation each week.[13] To capture stereoscopy for the 3D release, the animators shot each frame from two slightly apart camera positions.[9]

Every object on screen was made for the film.[9] 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.[14] The puppets had separate parts for the upper and lower parts of the head that could be exchanged for different facial expressions,[9] and the characters of Coraline could potentially exhibit over 208,000 facial expressions.[14] 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.[9]

At its peak, the film involved the efforts of 450 people,[8] including from 30[11] to 35[8] animators and digital designers in the Digital Design Group (DDG), directed by Dan Casey, and more than 250 technicians and designers.[11] 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.[9]


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.[15] Selick mentions that the main soloist, "a young girl you hear singing in several parts of the film," is coincidentally named Coraline.[15] Coraline won Coulais the 2009 Annie Award for best score for an animated feature.

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 


Coraline was theatrically released on February 6, 2009.[4]

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.[4] 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.


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.[11] In its US opening weekend, the film grossed $16.85 million, ranking third at the box office.[7] 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 271 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]


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]


  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. ^ a b c "Coraline (2009) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  5. ^ Savage, Annaliza (November 14, 2008). "Gaiman Calls Coraline the Strangest Stop-Motion Film Ever". Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  6. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (February 5, 2009). "'Coraline' premiere offers Portland some Hollywood glitter". Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  7. ^ a b DiOrio, Carl (February 8, 2009). "Moviegoers into 'Into You'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f McNichol, Tom (February 2009). "Hollywood Knights". Portland Monthly. Retrieved February 15, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "The Making of Coraline", Coraline DVD
  10. ^ Desowitz, Bill (January 23, 2009). "Tadahiro Uesugi Talks 'Coraline' Design". Animation World. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ J. McLean, Thomas (September 16, 2008). "On the Set with 'Coraline': Where the Motion Doesn't Stop". Animation World Network. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Coraline Blu-ray".
  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. ^ Brandon Gray (February 17, 2009). "Holdovers Live Under Killer Friday Debut". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  20. ^ "Coraline (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 23, 2022.
  21. ^ "Coraline Reviews". Metacritic. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  22. ^ Roger Ebert (February 4, 2009). "A beautiful film about several nasty people". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2021-09-30.
  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]