Any news about upcoming Henry Selick projects is good news. Except when it’s bad news. Like the news yesterday that his latest film– The Shadow King— came to a halt after it lost funding not once, but twice, and from two entirely separate sources. That’s pretty much the definition of a “king bummer” right there, at least if you ask me.
The one-two punch started first when Disney yanked its funding from The Shadow King after deeming it “too dark” for their liking, even though production had already commenced, and continued when Laika– the studio Selick parted ways with in 2009 to work with Disney in the first place– offered to help with money and then immediately withdrew their support from the project for budgetary reasons. (Not for vindictive personal reasons, as some people out there in the aether of the web will surely assume.) What happens when your film loses its source of revenue two times in a row? In nine out of ten cases, you just accept that it wasn’t meant to be and move on with your life.
Maybe Selick was prepared to do just that, but believe it or not this story has a very happy ending. Despite the pair of defeats, The Shadow King will go forward as planned thanks to the intervention of media group K5 International, who will fund production from here on out. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief– Selick will ride again, and it’s a good thing, too, because I would hate for a movie with this synopsis to end up on the “movies we’ll never see” list:
“The Shadow King is a deliciously magical tale about nine-year-old New York orphan Hap who hides his fantastically weird hands with long fingers from a cruel world. But when a living shadow girl teaches him to make amazing hand shadows that come to life, his hands become incredible weapons in a shadow war against a ravenous monster bent on killing Hap’s brother Richard and ultimately destroying New York.”
It kind of blows my mind that not one, but two studios wound up walking away from The Shadow King just based on that little summary alone. If nothing else, that’s definitely a Selick story through-and-through; your mileage may vary with him, but I myself am a huge fan of Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas and even James and the Giant Peach, so any new Selick is going to grab my attention no matter what. That he’s working with the likes of Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Tambor, and Brendan Gleeson only ratchets up my interest even further.
The icing on the cake, though, is that K5 felt generous enough to release the first promotional image from the film (produced below), and while it’s slight, it’s beautiful. The Shadow King has a 2014 release, putting it a ways off, but I’ll happily keep my eyes peeled for any new announcements about it as production continues.