This article is about the film adaptation. For the novel, see Coraline.

Coraline is a 2009 American 3D stop-motion dark fantasy horror film based on Neil Gaiman's 2002 novel of the same name. It was the first feature film produced by Laika and was distributed by Focus Features. The film depicts an adventurous girl finding an idealized parallel world behind a secret door in her new home, unaware that the alternate world contains a dark and sinister secret. Written and directed by Henry Selick, the film was made with Gaiman's approval and co-operation.[1]

The film was released in United States theaters on February 6, 2009, after a world premiere at the Portland International Film Festival,[2] and received positive reviews from critics. The film made $16.85 million during opening weekend, ranking third at the box office.[3] At the end of its box office run, the film had grossed over $124 million worldwide. Coraline 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 Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Animated Feature. In retrospective years, the film assumed a cult status.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Coraline Jones and her parents move from Pontiac, Michigan, to their new home in Ashland, Oregon, the dilapidated Pink Palace Apartments. Her eccentric new neighbors include Mr. Bobinsky, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible. Due to her parents constantly working, Coraline frequently explores the apartment. Whilst exploring, she meets a black cat and Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, the grandson of the landlady, whose twin sister mysteriously disappeared years ago. later,Coraline returns home and suggests that it's perfect time for gardening but her mother isn't convinced and says, "Rain makes mud and mud makes a mess." However, Wybie gives Coraline some gift that has a button-eyed ragdoll that resembles her.

"Hey, Jonesy. Look what I found in Gramma's trunk. Look familiar?" — Wybie.

The doll then lures her to a small door in the living room, which is bricked up and can only be unlocked by a button key. That night, a mouse guides her through the door, where the bricks have been replaced by a corridor to the Other World, inhabited by button-eyed doppelgängers of people from her world. Coraline meets the Other Mother and Other Father, who are much more attentive and entertaining than her real parents.

After dinner, she goes to sleep in her Other Bedroom, but awakes in her real bedroom. Despite cryptic warnings from her neighbors, Coraline visits the Other World three times, where she meets the Other Mr. Bobinsky, the Other Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, and the Other Wybie, who is mute. Despite having no Other World counterpart, the black cat is able to speak in the Other World.

The Other Mother invites Coraline to stay forever, under the condition that a pair of buttons will be sewn over her eyes. Terrified, Coraline attempts to flee, but the Other Mother sees through her plan and blocks all the exits to the real world. The cat reappears and reveals to her the sinister truth about the Other World and the Other Mother. The Other Mother, appearing taller and more grotesque, then "disciplines" Coraline by imprisoning her behind a wall. There, Coraline meets the ghosts of previous victims, including the missing twin sister of Wybie's grandmother. They reveal that the Other Mother, whom they refer to as the Beldam, created and sent button-eyed rag dolls that resembled them in order to spy on their lives. With the promise of a better life, she lured them into the Other World, where she sewed buttons over their eyes and consumed their lives. To free their souls, their real eyes need to be found. Coraline promises to help.

Coraline is suddenly rescued from the mirror by the Other Wybie, whose mouth has been stitched by the Beldam. He helps her escape back to the real world, but Coraline discovers that her parents are missing. She eventually deduces that they have been kidnapped by the Beldam and returns to the Other World, but not before Spink and Forcible grant her a stone with a hole in it. The cat advises Coraline to propose a "game": if Coraline cannot find her parents and the ghosts' eyes, she will let buttons be sewn over her eyes, but if she can, they will all be set free. The Beldam accepts the request, amused. But before the games starts, Coraline demands a clue and the Other Mother gives her one.

"In each of three wonders, I've made just for you, a ghost's eye is lost in plain sight." — Beldam.

Using the stone, Coraline finds the ghosts' eyes in the Other World, now turned nightmarish, from its deranged inhabitants. As she does, the Other Pink Palace Apartments' surroundings gradually disintegrate until only the living room is left. Inside, Coraline sees the Beldam in her arachnoid form. Warned that the Beldam will never accept Coraline's victory, she tricks her into unlocking the door. While the Beldam is distracted, Coraline finds her parents trapped in a snow globe, grabs it, and throws the cat at the Beldam's face, ripping her button eyes out. The Beldam furiously converts the floor into a spiderweb but Coraline manages to climb out of it, slam and lock the door shut on the Beldam's hand, severing it. Her parents reappear in the real world, with no memory of what happened. That night, the ghosts warn her to get rid of the button key to prevent the Beldam from accessing the real world. As Coraline prepares to drop it down the well, the severed hand attacks her and tries to drag her back to the Other World. Wybie smashes it with a rock, then throws the remains and the key into the well and seals it shut to prevent anyone else from entering the Other World.

The next day, Coraline and her parents, who have finally finished their work, host a garden party for the neighbors. Coraline also prepares to tell Mrs. Lovat the truth about her twin sister.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Dakota Fanning as Coraline Jones, a brave, clever, curious 11-year-old girl with dark blue hair. She is annoyed by not being taken seriously by (in her opinion) crazy adults, people constantly mistaking her name for Caroline, and her mundane and bland life. Gaiman describes her as "full of 'vim' and 'spunk' and all those wonderful old-fashioned words."[Citation needed]
  • Teri Hatcher as Mel Jones, Coraline's busy mother, and the Beldam/Other Mother. In the film, Mel has a brace around her neck from a truck crash Coraline mentioned; the Other Mother has a turtleneck jumper instead. Mel is a writer working on a gardening catalog. She loves her daughter, but is very busy and doesn't always give her the attention that Coraline thinks she needs. The Other Mother is the creator of the other world and its inhabitants, she can also transform herself into different people. Teri Hatcher describes Other Mother as the seemingly "perfect mom, because she's a perfect cook and has the perfect answer to every question, and later on she becomes quite monstrous."[Citation needed] Her true form is a spider-like witch with a bony face and hands fashioned from sewing needles. The three ghost children refer to her as "the beldam", an archaic word meaning "good lady" but used to refer to a "hag" or a "witch".
  • Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French as Miss April Spink and Miss Miriam Forcible respectively, a pair of retired burlesque actresses. They own several Scottish Terriers (including the stuffed remains of their dead ones) and talk in theater jargon. The Other Spink and Forcible are young, beautiful, Shakespeare-quoting acrobats and later they merge as a green and pink monster made out of taffy and the dogs turn into dog-bats. Saunders and French both collaborated in the animated series of Pongwiffy.
  • John Hodgman as Charlie Jones, Coraline's father, and the Other Father. Hodgman described him as "the kind of guy who walks around a banana peel and falls into a manhole."[Citation needed] Author Neil Gaiman describes him as a man who "does that thing that parents do when they embarrass their kids and somehow think they're being cool."[Citation needed] The Other Father is a singer-pianist, as well as a gardener. He acts like the Other Mother's slave, showing a scared and traumatized attitude. However, he still seems to retain some aspects of Coraline's real father, repeatedly stating that the Other Mother is forcing him to do this and that, and that he truly does not want to hurt Coraline.
  • Ian McShane as Mr. Bobinsky (his full name is Sergei Alexander Bobinsky, and friends call him Mr. B.), one of Coraline's neighbors. He is a blue-skinned Russian giant who once trained as a gymnast and lives on a steady diet of beets. While not explained in the film, his blue skin is due to his time as a Liquidator, for which he wears a Hero of Chernobyl medal on his "wife beater". Coraline's mother believes him to be a drunk. The Other Bobinsky is the ringmaster of a circus of rats disguised as jumping mice, and is also made of rats.
  • Keith David as The Cat, a sarcastic, mysterious, nameless black cat from Coraline's world who appears and disappears at will and has the ability to speak in the Other World. He forms a bond with Coraline and acts as her guide and mentor throughout her journey.
  • Robert Bailey, Jr. as Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, the geeky, nervous 11-year-old grandson of Coraline's landlady. Wybie is a character introduced for the film adaptation so that the viewer "wouldn't have a girl walking around, occasionally talking to herself."[Citation needed] Though Coraline finds him creepy and regularly insults him, the two end up becoming good friends. The Other Wybie has been rendered incapable of speech by the Other Mother as she thought Coraline would prefer him that way.
  • Carolyn Crawford as Mrs. Lovat, Wybie's presumably overprotective grandmother and the owner of the Pink Palace Apartments. She originally grew up in the old Victorian mansion with her twin sister who mysteriously vanished because of the Other Mother. Believing that someone "stole" her sister, Mrs. Lovat moved out of her childhood home and divided it into three apartments, which she rents. Afraid of the Beldam claiming another child, she did not allow Wybie to enter it, nor allow any tenants with children to rent the apartments.

Production[edit | edit source]

"Coraline was a huge risk. But these days in animation, the safest bet is to take a risk." — Henry Selick

Director Henry Selick met author Neil Gaiman just as he was finishing the novel Coraline, and given that Gaiman was a fan of Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas, he invited him to a possible adaptation of the film. 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 the style seen in 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.[4] 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."[5]

Coraline was staged in a 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) warehouse in Hillsboro, Oregon.[6][7] The stage was divided into 50 lots,[8] which played host to nearly 150 sets.[6] 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.[7] More than 28Template:Clarify animators worked at a time on rehearsing or shooting scenes, producing 90–100 seconds of finished animation each week.[9] To add the stereoscopy for the 3D release, the animators shot each frame from two slightly apart camera positions.[4]

Every object on screen was made for the film.[4] 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.[10] The puppets had separate parts for the upper and lower parts of the head that could be exchanged for different facial expressions.[4] The characters of Coraline could potentially exhibit over 208,000 facial expressions.[10] Computer artists composited separatedly-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.[4]

At its peak, the film involved the efforts of 450 people, animators and digital designers in the Digital Design Group (DDG) directed by Dan Casey and more than 250 technicians and designers.[7] 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.[6] The clothes would also simulate wear using paint and a file.[4] Several students from The Art Institute of Portland were also involved in making the film.

Home Media[edit | edit source]

The film was released in the United States on DVD and Blu-ray on July 20, 2010 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 in the United Kingdom on DVD and Blu-ray on October 12, 2010. 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.

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.

Other Media[edit | edit source]

The website for Coraline involves an interactive exploration game where the player can scroll through Coraline's world. It won the 2010 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.

On June 16, 2009, 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.

The soundtrack was released digitally February 3, 2010 by E1 Music, and in stores on February 24, 2010.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Box office[edit | edit source]

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 grossed $16 million its opening weekend and ended up making more than $192 million worldwide; prior to the film's release, Dergarabedian thought Laika "should be really pleased" if it made close to $10 million on its opening weekend.[7] In its US opening weekend, the film made $16.85 million, ranking third at the box office.[3] It made $15 million on its second weekend, bringing its U.S. total up to $35.6 million, $25.5 million of which coming from 3D presentations.[11] As of November 2009, the film had grossed $75,286,229 in the United States and Canada and $49,310,169 in other territories, making a total of $124,596,398 worldwide.[12]

Critical response[edit | edit source]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 90% based on 262 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. 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."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14]

David Edelstein said the film is "a bona fide fairy tale" that needed a "touch less entrancement and a touch more... story".[15] 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."[16]

Accolades[edit | edit source]

Awards and nominations[edit | edit source]

Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Henry Selick Template:Nom
American Film Institute Awards Best 10 Movies Template:Won
Annie Awards
Best Animated Feature Template:Nom
Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production Henry Selick Template:Nom
Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Dawn French Template:Nom
Best Music in an Animated Feature Production Bruno Coulais Template:Won
Best Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Travis Knight Template:Nom
Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Shane Prigmore; Shannon Tindle Template:Won
Best Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Christopher Appelhans; Tadahiro Uesugi Template:Won
Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Chris Butler Template:Nom
Annecy International Animated Film Festival Best Feature – Tied Template:Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Template:Nom
BAFTA Awards Best Animated Film Template:Nom
BAFTA Children's Award Best Feature Film Template:Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Template:Nom
Cinema Audio Society Awards
Lifetime Achievement Henry Selick Template:Won
Career Achievement (sound designer/re-recording mixer) Randy Thom Template:Won
EDA [Alliance of Women Film Journalists] Award
Best Animated Female ([the character of] Coraline) Template:Won
Best Animated Film Template:Nom
Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Template:Nom
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects, Foley, Music, Dialogue and ADR Animation in a Feature Film Template:Nom
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Film Template:Nom
People's Choice Awards Best Animated 3D Movie of 2009 Template:Nom
Producers Guild of America Awards Producer of the Year in Animated Motion Picture Template:Nom
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Feature Template:Won
St. Louis Film Critics Awards Best Animated Film Template:Nom
Visual Effects Society Awards
Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Claire Jennings, Henry Selick Template:Nom
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Coraline – Lead Animators Travis Knight and Trey Thomas Template:Nom
Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture John Allan Armstrong, Richard Kent Burton, Craig Dowsett Template:Nom
Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Feature Motion Picture Deborah Cook, Matthew DeLeu, Paul Mack, Martin Meunier Template:Nom
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Template:Nom

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Savage, Annaliza. "Gaiman Calls Coraline the Strangest Stop-Motion Film Ever",, Condé Nast Digital, November 14, 2008. Retrieved on August 18, 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1}
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "The Making of Coraline", Coraline DVD
  5. Tadahiro Uesugi Talks 'Coraline' Design. Animation World (January 23, 2009). Retrieved on August 17, 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named portmag
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named wweek
  8. "Backstage view (19th of 21 backlot production photos)", David Strick's Hollywood Backlot, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2008. Retrieved on 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.” 
  9. On the Set with 'Coraline': Where the Motion Doesn't Stop. Animation World Network (September 16, 2008). Retrieved on August 17, 2014.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Objet Geometries' 3-D Printers Play Starring Role in New Animated Film Coraline. PR Newswire UK (February 5, 2009). Retrieved on August 17, 2014.
  12. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named boxoffice
  14. Coraline Reviews. Metacritic (February 5, 2009). Retrieved on February 10, 2009.
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