Jon Brion to Score 3D Stop-Motion 'Paranorman'; 3 More Join Voice Cast

Tuesday, 14 June 2011 10:26 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Jon Brion to Score 3D Stop-Motion 'Paranorman'; 3 More Join Voice Cast

Musician Jon Brion has composed the score to a variety of projects, from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to Magnolia to The Other Guys, but he has never before provided musical accompaniment for an animated film.  Now, he has signed on to score Paranorman, a 3D stop-motion film from the animation studio and distributor of CoralineParanorman tells the story of Norman, a 13 year old boy who becomes his small town's only hope when it is besieged by zombies.  In addition to Brion, three new voice actors, including Family Guy's Alex Borstein, have joined a voice cast that already includes Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, and Leslie Mann.

Here's the full press release from LAIKA and Focus Features, with the new castmembers emboldened.

NEW YORK and PORTLAND, OR, June 14th, 2011 – Two-time Grammy Award-nominated composer Jon Brion has signed to create the original score for LAIKA and Focus Features’ animated comedy thriller ParaNorman, currently in production at LAIKA’s Oregon studios for nationwide release by Focus on Friday, August 17th, 2012. Following LAIKA and Focus’ groundbreaking Academy Award-nominated animated feature Coraline, ParaNorman is only the second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D. LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight made the announcement today.

Joining the voice cast of ParaNorman are Tucker Albrizzi (Good Luck Charlie), Alex Borstein (Family Guy), and Jodelle Ferland (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse). ParaNorman is being directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, from Mr. Butler’s original screenplay. Mr. Fell was director of The Tale of Despereaux and Flushed Away. Mr. Butler was storyboard supervisor on Coraline and storyboard artist on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.

Mr. Brion’s original score for Focus’ Academy Award-winning Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind earned him a Grammy Award nomination for Best Score Soundtrack Album, among other honors. He was previously a Grammy nominee in the same category for scoring Magnolia. A highly accomplished singer/songwriter, arranger, and conductor, Mr. Brion is renowned for his production work. He holds co-writing credits on albums by such artists as Kanye West, Beck, Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, the Eels, and Dido.

Mr. Knight said, "Jon Brion is so prodigiously gifted it’s almost unseemly. His virtuoso compositions are at once moody and imaginative, clever and subtle. Jon’s inventive, genre-defying musical storytelling will provide the perfect accompaniment to ParaNorman’s groundbreaking visuals and emotionally resonant narrative.”

Mr. Brion stated, “I’ve been waiting for the right animation project for some time now. This production and the people at LAIKA and Focus have an inspiring amount of heart. One can’t help being swept up in the passion.”

In ParaNorman, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, moronic grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

In addition to those actors previously mentioned, the voice cast includes Academy Award nominee Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show), Jeff Garlin (Toy Story 3), John Goodman (Monsters, Inc.), Bernard Hill (Titanic), Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Leslie Mann (Rio), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (How to Train Your Dragon), and Tony and Emmy Award winner Elaine Stritch (30 Rock).

Arianne Sutner, animation producer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Travis Knight are producing ParaNorman. Academy Award winner Brian Van’t Hul (King Kong, Coraline) is the movie’s visual effects supervisor; Emmy Award winner Nelson Lowry (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride) is its production designer; and Tristan Oliver (Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Academy Award-winning Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) is the director of photography on ParaNorman.

As on Coraline, Focus holds worldwide distribution rights to ParaNorman, and Universal Pictures International will release it overseas. Coraline is Focus’ second-highest-grossing movie of all time, with over $75 million domestically. The picture earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature Film; and was named one of the year’s 10 Best Films by the American Film Institute (AFI) with an AFI Award.

Coraline made very effective use of 3D, and it's good to see LAIKA sticking with the sort of material that, while accessible to children, is also unafraid to be a little nightmarish and spooky.  Directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell have pulled together an eclectic and interesting voice cast, as opposed to simply targeting big names.  The already mentioned vocalists will be supplemented by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bernard Hill, and Jeff Garlin.  Adding music by Jon Brion reflects the same approach, and I'm curious about the look and sound of the eventual film.

Paranorman is scheduled for August 17, 2012. 


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