When LAIKA began we had a simple goal: to make movies that matter,” says Travis Knight, LAIKA’s President and CEO, who also is lead animator and a producer on its films. “LAIKA is devoted to telling new and original stories in new and original ways… We aspire to make films that are bold, distinctive, and enduring." ...
Few would debate that LAIKA's features aren't distinctive. But there's the profitability issue:
... Laika hasn’t had the kind of near-billion-dollar grosser that marks the histories of Pixar, DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment. It seemingly hasn’t even really tried. As it develops projects, is the company even aiming for such a four-quadrant smash? ...
[CEO Travis] Knight says the company’s future titles — not yet announced — will prove the company is serious about branching out, not sticking to macabre, quirky stories. “Rather than a taste for the macabre,” he says, “I like the full range of human emotion in a story, which means darkness and light. It means warmth, but it also potentially means scares. Within a safe environment, the theater, you can have a big ride, big ups and downs, intensity, warmth, humanity, laughs, tears — you want that full range of emotion.”
Here's the trouble: LAIKA has made and released three features. Each has cost, give or take, $60 million. Henry Selick's effort, Coraline, is LAIKA's highest grosser, bringing in $124 million at the box office.
That might have been sufficient to pull in profits back in 1966, but it doesn't really do the job now. The other two features, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, have brought in $107 and $108 million respectively, but let's get real.
You are not making money if the product is budgeted at $60 mill and grosses a little over $100 mill. After overhead, after advertising, the company can't be cruising along in the black, can it? Or am I being too much a green eyeshade type here?
Maybe it is, after all, about the art. The hell with the money part of it.