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10 Things You Should Know About "The Boxtrolls"

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10 Things You Should Know About "The Boxtrolls"

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The Boxtrolls official poster


On September 26th, Focus Features will present LAIKA's "The Boxtrolls". A family event movie from the creators of “Coraline” and “ParaNorman” that introduces audiences to a new breed of family – The Boxtrolls, a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley), comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls, Eggs decides to venture above ground, “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously  feisty Winnifred (Elle Fanning). Together, they devise a daring plan to save Eggs’ family

While keeping their community together underground, the humans' trash becomes the Boxtrolls' treasure.  The kindhearted band of tinkerers also dumpster-dive and collect mechanical junk which they transform into magical inventions. But with his Boxtrolls family increasingly at risk because of Cheesebridge citizens misunderstanding them and because of Snatcher's dangerous scheme, Eggs must venture above ground, "into the light," where he meets and teams up with another 11-year-old, the fabulously feisty Winnie (Elle Fanning of Maleficent) - Lord Portley-Rind's daughter. Together, Eggs and Winnie devise a daring plan to save the Boxtrolls from Snatcher, embarking on an adventure with madcap antics and open hearts which proves that heroes come in all shapes and sizes - even rectangles.


Number 1 The BoxTrolls is a stop-motion, hand-drawn AND CG hybrid movie

While the traditional stop-motion process remains the bedrock of LAIKA, the company has continued to integrate new technology, specifically RP (Rapid Prototyping) and CG (Computer-Generated) advances, into its moviemaking. The Boxtrolls (2014), the company's third feature, was again conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3D. Notably, it is also an example of hybridization: a stop-motion, hand-drawn, and CG hybrid which marries and celebrates the handmade tradition and the latest tools of the trade. Once more in Oregon, new ground is being broken in exploring and expanding a classic art form

Number 2

The Boxtrolls wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells and get their names from their box labels. 




A stop-motion feature is comparable to a live-action feature - physical sets must be built and dressed, performers need to be properly coiffed, clothed, and lit – and given proper direction.


Number 4 Alan Snow's bestselling fantasy adventure Here Be Monsters!,
the first volume in the author's series of books, was adapted into The Boxtrolls.

LAIKA CEO and Lead Animator Travis Knight reveals, "We have developed this movie for nearly a decade, starting around the same time as Coraline. That movie came together first, and then ParaNorman jumped into view, but now here we are with this long-nurtured project finally happening.

    Number 5

Boxtrolls speak their own language


Number 5Sir Ben Kinglsey performed the character of Snatcher in a reclined position

Producer David Bleiman Ichioka reveals, "That changed this amazing actor's voice performance - where it would come from within his body - and that in turn changed the way we were animating Snatcher and how his body and face would be moving. He took on a much more theatrical bent; he is always 'on.'"
The actor found the voiceover recording sessions "very releasing. I wasn't bound by physical behavior, costume, or even to a certain extent continuity. I'm quite intuitive, I think, and Snatcher's voice materialized on day one - I did it at home privately and then brought it to the recording session. It came out of his big gut."


Number 7The Boxtrolls and Imagination Foundation has invited kids of all ages anywhere in the world to build something amazing out of cardboard, recycled materials and imagination.

You can enter The Boxtrolls Cardboard Challenge now through September 29th by posting your cardboard creation on Twitter or Instagram using #TheBoxtrollsCC



Number 8The movie "Paranorman" needed a Face Wrangler and "The BoxTrolls" has a Face Librarian 

Replacement facial animation at LAIKA is groundbreaking; LAIKA was the first animation studio to use 3D printers to create the replacement mouth and brow of each character. On this movie, thousands of face parts were printed, which gives the lead characters an infinite amount of expression.

Tim Yates, who was lead face wrangler on ParaNorman and now lead face librarian on The Boxtrolls, notes that "the human touch is never lacking in our characters; there is a tremendous amount of nuance that goes into these faces. Having thousands of replacement faces coming from the 3D printers, and kept in the face library that our facial animation department has built up, helps our stop-motion animators be able to give extra attention to the body movements. What all this is in the service of is that audiences connect with the characters and feel their emotions. LAIKA's movies are highly character-driven, and this range of expressions helps our characters come even more alive."

The faces for all characters are now permanently housed in LAIKA's face library, which currently numbers over 1,300 archival boxes of nearly 53,000 faces


Number 9

Some "Easter eggs" did make it past the executives at LAIKA.

Eggs stands in the alley looking for Snatcher LAIKA BoxTrolls
 For those familiar with the original source material, Curt Enderle - Boxtrolls art director - reveals that "people with sharp eyes might be able to spot signs on some buildings that reference things in Alan Snow's book."
So keep your eyes peeled.


Number 10

Snatcher's Mecha-Drill puppet, which stood 5' tall & weighed over 75 pounds is the biggest stop-motion puppet rig ever built

More Boxtrolls by the Numbers

  • An animator typically took 1 week to complete 3.7 seconds' worth of footage, which is just under 90 individual frames
  • 190 puppets were built for The Boxtrolls
  • 200 costumes were made for the movie
  • Mixing puppets and CG, the ballroom set hosted 150 Cheesebridgeians
  • Over 53,000 individual face parts were 3D-printed; of those, 15,000 were Eggs'
  • The movie's smallest costumes were for Eggs as a toddler: the sweater, measuring 3.5" from cuff to cuff across the length of both arms and chest, and the socks measuring 5/8" long 
  • CG humans are in 185 shots of the movie, CG Boxtrolls are in 131 shots of the movie
  • The stop-motion flames "burning" in the furnace of the Mecha-Drill are courtesy of a working iPad displaying a loop video inside the "mouth" of the device
  • The river running through the sewer scene where Eggs climbs the ladder was in fact handmade; a rig holding a 4'x2' pane of shower glass passed over a nest of white aluminum fishing-line wire, tiny pieces of mirror and mylar, and colored masking tape to perfect the illusion of a watery surface - creating rippling liquid without actual liquid
  • The movie's smallest prop was the tiny sewing thread and needle
  • The following amounts of materials were used or consumed during production:

    • 80 pounds of hot melt glue sticks
    • 96 cubic feet of gold urethane foam
    • 898 cans of spray paint
    • 1,000 sheets of sandpaper
    • 2,000 tongue depressors
    • 2,896 feet of 2x4's
    • 2,904 doughnuts
    • 4,000 X-Acto blades
    • 6,928 feet of 1x4's
    • 12,000 cotton balls
    • 35,488 square feet of plywood

THE BOXTROLLS releases in theaters on September 26!

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