The expert animators behind a recent spate of Oscar-nominated, stop-motion masterpieces, including Kubo and the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman and Coraline, have detailed their recently announced fifth film. LAIKA revealed the film’s title—Missing Link—as well as its U.S. release date and complete cast on Tuesday, as LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight gears up to meet with foreign buyers at Cannes.
Written and directed by Chris Butler (ParaNorman), Missing Link features Hugh Jackman as Sir Lionel Frost, who believes himself to be the world’s foremost investigator of myths and monsters, though his peers see things quite differently. In a last-ditch attempt to gain prestige amongst high society, Sir Lionel decides to journey to America’s Pacific Northwest in an attempt to prove the existence of a legendary creature: the missing link.
Mr. Link, as he’s known, is voiced by Zach Galifianakis, and is a silly, smart and soulful beast who’s awfully lonely—he is the last of his kind, after all. When Sir Lionel and Mr. Link meet, the latter proposes a quest in search of his rumored distant relatives, and the duo embark on a globe-trotting odyssey to find the fabled land of Shangri-La, accompanied by adventurer Adelina Fortnight, voiced by Zoe Saldana, who possesses the only known map to their destination. The unlikely trio encounter more than their fair share of peril along the way, as they’re stalked at every turn by dastardly villains, but Mr. Link’s good-hearted charm provides the emotional, funny foundation of a heartfelt and profound family film.
In addition to the film’s central trio, its voice cast includes Oscar winner Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility), Stephen Fry (The Hobbit), Timothy Olyphant (Justified), Matt Lucas (Alice In Wonderland), David Walliams (Little Britain), Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones) and Ching Valdes-Aran (Nurse Jackie).
Knight called the film “the most striking thing we’ve ever done” in a statement, saying:
Missing Link is an artistic and technical wonder. Led by our visionary director Chris Butler, LAIKA has once again blended fine art, craftsmanship, and cutting-edge technology to achieve something we’ve never tried before: a raucous comedy entwined with a swashbuckling epic, underscoring the universal need to find belonging. Commingling keenly felt emotion, madcap humor, and retina-bursting visuals, Missing Link is a kaleidoscopic cinematic experience unlike any other.
Writer-director Butler spoke to the film’s voice performances in a statement of his own:
It was a constant source of delight to witness how our game and captivating cast imbued these larger-than-life characters with distinct personality. Hugh lends Sir Lionel a giddy schoolboy enthusiasm bubbling beneath the surface of his suave English gent; Zoe brings an unflappable ardor and a witty playfulness to Adelina, and Zach’s performance as Link is not only laugh-out-loud funny, but a beautifully nuanced balance of innocence and vulnerability. It was a treat to be able to join this eclectic gang of adventurers on their journey across the world.
LAIKA production head and Oscar nominee Arianne Sutner (ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings) produces Missing Link alongside Knight, who also earned an Oscar nod (and a BAFTA win) for his directorial debut, Kubo. Annapurna Pictures will distribute the film in the States.
Missing Link will be released in spring 2019. Sneak a peek at Mr. Link via the first-look image from the film included below.