LAIKA, the Oregon-based stop-motion animation studio behind modern classics “Coraline” and “ParaNorman,” is getting serious about entering the live-action space. The studio just named longtime Netflix executive Matt Levin as President, Live-Action Film & Series, a new role at the company. The first live-action project is a film based on John Brownlow’s thriller novel “Seventeen.”
Levin served as Director, Original Independent Film at Netflix from 2014 to 2022. He co-founded the Original Independent Film department growing it into a full-scale mini-major with 20+ executives. Levin oversaw projects like Macon Blair’s “I Don’t Feel At Home in the World Anymore,” underrated Elizabeth Winstead-led action movie “Kate,” and Charlie Kaufman’s puzzling “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” Levin also worked on Tom Hardy’s upcoming “Havoc” from director Gareth Evans (due out sometime later this year).
Levin reports directly to President and CEO Travis Knight (director of LAIKA’s “Kubo and the Two Strings”), who announced the appointment on Tuesday.
“Matt Levin is an awesome dude,” Knight said in an official statement. “Both a steely-eyed pragmatist and a starry-eyed dreamer, Matt is the perfect partner to spearhead LAIKA’s live-action division. His exceptional leadership skills, creative sensitivity, and sharp storytelling mind will guide our studio to the next phase of its evolution, and into exciting new genres, media, and formats. At seventeen years old, LAIKA is grunting our way through the disaffected teenager stage of our development. Matt’s gonna help us become a proper grown-up.”
“I’m thrilled to be coming on board at this exciting moment for LAIKA,” said Levin. “I’ve loved and admired LAIKA’s bold, original, and ground-breaking animated films since the studio came on the scene. I’m excited to honor and build on that legacy as we forge ahead into live-action films and series in this promising new chapter.”
LAIKA is currently in production on a new stop-motion animated feature called “Wildwood,” based on the book series by Colin Meloy and illustrator Carson Ellis. They are also working on “The Night Gardener,” an animated film based on an idea from Bill Dubuque, creator of the hit Netflix series “Ozark.” Exciting times are ahead for the studio.