While Coraline might have hit theaters way back in 2009, it continues to make an impact. Now available to stream on Netflix, Coraline is gaining more and more fans with each new day. The film has truly become a classic.
For those who might not know, Coraline is the story of Coraline Jones, a girl with blue hair and a knack for gardening who moves from Michigan to Oregon with her parents. Then one night, she discovers a whole different universe– one that is basically just a better version of her real life. Everything is going great, or at least until something changes.
Though you might think you know everything there is to know about Coraline, think again. The movie, based on the famous Neil Gaiman novel, has plenty of interesting tidbits. From production to its soundtrack to its puppets, there’s so much to learn about Laika’s Coraline.
Coraline was Laika’s first film and it sure set the tone for the production company. Since Coraline is a creepy movie passed off to be for kids, but more likely created for adults, it’s one of the most interesting animated films out there. Of course, any interesting film has plenty of interesting facts that come along with it.
Here are the 15 Things You Never Knew About Coraline.
15. The Movie Was Supposed To Be Live-Action
Before the film was acquired by Laika, it was originally supposed to done in live-action, rather than stop-motion animation. Things were set with Dakota Fanning agreeing to portray Coraline. Everything was ready to go, but director Henry Selick had a different idea.
Selick pushed to used stop-motion animation. He claimed that doing it in a live-action form would take away from the story. He thought the talking cat thing would become too much of a gimmick and that the movie would come off as too scary if it was done in live-action.
Unfortunately, Selick was under contract with Disney. Having directed films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, he wasn’t allowed to do animated films with other companies. However, he worked it all out and changed the film’s direction, while still keeping Dakota Fanning on to voice Coraline.
14. It Took Almost Four Years To Create
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Coraline. The film took an exceptionally long amount of time to create despite there beging about thirty different animators working on it at any given time during production.
Everyone knows that stop-motion animation is not a quick thing. It takes a lot of patience. Coraline took twenty months to complete. That’s not even counting the year and a half of pre-production work, the two months of post-production work, or the time Selick spent acquiring the rights to Coraline and getting all the legal stuff taken care of.
If you ever wonder why Laika only comes out with a new film every few years, it’s because stop-motion animation takes a very long time, not just to produce, but also to organize. Coraline is a great example of this.
13. One Person’s Job Was To Knit The Tiny Sweaters
You might not have heard of Althea Crome before, but you’re sure going to remember her now. Crome is a knitter who specializes in creating super tiny knitted clothing. For Coraline, Crome was hired to knit all of the sweaters that Coraline wears by hand.
One of Crome’s tiny knitting needles can produce eighty stitches per inch. Her needles look as thin as a piece of hair. Coraline herself is best known for her outfits, specifically the star sweater the Other Mother gives to her. That was all Crome. The knitter, who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, hand-knit each and every sweater on her own.
It took Crome two weeks to work on and complete each individual sweater. While Laika did some finishing touches, all the pressure was on Crome. The Coraline puppet wasn’t even ten inches tall, so that’s a lot of tiny, intricate work that goes into making such tiny clothing.
12. Over 500 Scottish Terriers Were Created For The Theater Scene
Those poor Scottish terriers that belonged to Miss Forcible and Miss Spink evolved into hundreds beyond hundreds of dogs in Coraline’s alternative universe. While the theater scene isn’t the longest in the movie, it did take quite a long time to create.
Production created over five hundred dogs to fill each and every theater seat. Plus, they had to create the dogs who worked behind the scenes of the show, the usher, and the dogs in the real world, both living and dead.
While many of the dogs were able to move, it’s doubtful that each one was created with as much robotic work as some of the others. Though Coraline has very little computer animation, it might have needed a little bit of it to make all the dogs in the theater to move. Then again, Laika might just be so good that they didn’t need this type of thing at all.
11. Charlie’s Sweater Was Changed Due To A School Rivalry
Charlie Jones is most recognized for his Michigan State sweater. Since Coraline and her parents move from Michigan to Oregon, it only makes sense for him to be wearing such attire. However, production did have to decide between Charlie wearing a blue University of Michigan sweater or a Michigan State University one instead.
While they ended up choosing Michigan State, they originally had gone with using a University of Michigan one instead. It wasn’t until producer Bill Mechanic stepped in and had them change it due to his alma mater being Michigan State.
While it might seem minimal at best, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University rivalry is a rather large and historical one, so it makes sense that Mechanic didn’t want to represent the University of Michigan. Hopefully they weren’t too far gone in the process when he had them change it, though.
10. The Movers Are Based On Two Very Important People
The Ranft Brothers moving truck shows up at the Pink Palace towards the beginning of the film. A hidden detail appears on their truck in the form of spray paint, which is a shout-out for stop-motion animation.
The two brothers are also a shout-out, though, specifically to Joe and Jerome Ranft, two brothers who were famous for their animation work, specifically through Pixar.
Sadly, Joe Ranft died in a traffic collision in 2005, four years before the movie premiered. Joe Ranft had worked on movies such as Cars, Toy Story, and The Lion King. Jerome Ranft continued working after his brother’s death, having worked on movies such as Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., and Up.
Director Henry Selick had known them, as the Ranft brothers had done animation work on Selick’s film, The Nightmare Before Christmas. While Coraline premiered in 2009, animated films take years of work, so Joe Ranft’s death probably happened very close to the time when Coraline started to come together.
9. Laika Auctioned Off All The Puppets in 2015
In 2015, the production company decided to auction off all of their puppets. This was before Kubo and the Two Strings came out, so the auction only included puppets from Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls.
Besides the puppets, they also auctioned off other pieces of material, such as set pieces and props. Coraline ended up making them a lot of money. The “evil” version of the Other Mother was sold for over $50,000, while Coraline in her blue star sweater went for over $20,000.
Laika did keep some of the money. However, a large portion of the money was donated to The Art of Elysium, a nonprofit organization that “works to make art a catalyst for social change by bringing creativity and inspiration to children, artists, and various populations in need.”
8. Wybie Never Made An Appearance In The Book
Wybie Lovat might be a major character in the film version of Coraline, but he was never a real character in the novel. In fact, he’s only referenced to in the novel and is in no way the instigator of anything like he is in the movie.
For the film, though, Henry Selick wanted to have someone Coraline’s own age around, so she didn’t just have herself to talk to. Enter Wybie Lovat, a character who is mentioned in the novels, but isn’t actually ever really seen.
Wybie became a mechanism for Coraline. He showed her the doll, he guided her through her story line, and he added the element of friendship. Wybie, knowing everything there is to know about the Pink Palace, including it’s sad history, also helped make the story feel more real. While his absence in the novel is fine, he really needed to be added to the movie.
7. That Shopping Scene Shouldn’t Have Happened
There’s only one major scene that occurs outside of the Pink Palace’s territory. It occurs when Coraline and her mom drop off Charlie and then proceed to go shopping for school uniforms.
Producers originally wanted to get rid of the scene because they didn’t like how it took them outside of the world that was created at the Pink Palace. However, director Henry Selick insisted on keeping the scene as it was.
Selick believed that the scene added a lot when it came to Coraline’s relationship with her mom. While Coraline and her mom had already proved that they had a tenacious relationship, this scene gave more to that. It was important to Selick to keep it because it’s one of the final moments that Coraline and her mom have with each other before Coraline’s parents go missing.
6. Producers Used Oregon As The Backdrop For Personal Reasons
The novel version of Coraline was actually set in England, not in the United States like it is in the movie. So, when the movie’s producers and director wanted to change the backdrop, they had to figure out where the Pink Palace should be located.
The Pink Palace Apartments ended up being located in a smaller town called Ashland, Oregon. It’s a real place with about twenty thousand people living there. They also do have a Shakespeare festival, just like in the movie.
Laika is located in Hillsboro, Oregon, a larger city that has over a hundred thousand people living in it. The two locations aren’t that close to each other, but it’s safe to say that Oregon wasn’t a random choice by the production company. Director Henry Selick also said he made the choice of Ashland after a production manager showed it to him.
As for why Coraline came from Pontiac, Michigan, this is because that’s where producer Bill Mechanic is from there originally. It’s a much different area than Ashland, so it gave contrast to Coraline’s life.
5. Director Henry Selick Doesn’t Believe That Mr. Bobinsky Has A Real Mice Circus
Mr. Bobinsky, the blue guy from eastern Europe who lives on the top floor of the Pink Palace, claims to have a mice circus. In the alternative universe, he does. However, in the real world, he claims that he also does.
It’s never clear if Mr. Bobinsky actually has a mice circus or not in the real world. Of course, he’s not going to have one that’s like the one from the alternative universe. However, audiences always thought he at least was trying to have a mice circus.
Henry Selick says that this one is a no-go. According to him, Mr. Bobinsky is simply crazy and he has no true skill to be capable of any sort of mice circus. In fact, he thinks that Mr. Bobinsky made it all up in his head. After all, Mr. Bobinsky has had some trauma in his past life, being part of a nuculer waste cleanup crew and all.
4. The Sets For The Real World Were Designed To Be Flat While The Other World Was Designed With More Depth
In order to show the difference between both worlds– and to give the alternative universe more vibrancy– the production crew had to get a bit creative with how they did things.
When Coraline goes down the tube to the other world, she is bouncing, and it’s like the movie becomes more 3D-like. This is done on purpose. Creators designed Coraline’s real world to be extremely flat, so when she went to the other world, it would seem more multi-dimensional. It’s not like the other world was highly multi-dimensional, but since Coraline’s real world was so flat, it felt like more than it actualy was.
Production took a long time and you have to remember that it’s someone’s entire job to make the background set look a certain way. It’s their job to make you think that the small set is larger than life.
3. It Was Nominated For Best Animated Feature Film At The Oscars
Coraline was really successful straight after its release. While some were surprised by it’s success, the movie’s production company wasn’t. The film grossed over $16 million on opening weekend, a lot for an unknown company, which Laika was at the time. Since then, it has grossed around $125 million.
The movie had a solid fan base and it was even nominated that year at the Oscars. Unfortunately, Coraline had some tough competition. The 2010 Best Animated Feature Film nominees included Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, and the beloved The Secret of Kells.
None of those movies won, however. Instead, it was Pixar’s Up that took the Oscars by storm that year. The Academy can’t really be blamed for this one. It was a year filled with some pretty great animated films.
2. Director Henry Selick’s Sons Voiced The Roles Of The Ghost Boy And Coraline’s Michigan Friend
There aren’t a lot of minor characters in Coraline, but two of them were younger boys. One was Coraline’s friend in Michigan who spoke to Coraline through a picture frame in the alternative universe. The other was the ghost boy who had his life stolen away by the Beldam.
Henry Selick’s son Harry Selick stepped in and provided the voice of the boy in the picture frame. Selick’s other son, George, provided the voice for the ghost boy.
Neither of Henry Selick’s kids went on to do things in the entertainment business. At least, they haven’t done so yet. Since Coraline ended up being one of Henry Selick’s favorite projects of all time, he decided to use his kids in the film just for fun.
1. They Might Be Giants Created A Soundtrack That Was Never Used
The band They Might Be Giants had been tasked with creating an entire soundtrack for Coraline. Unfortunately, Coraline took a much darker turn (for the better) and the soundtrack that the band provided just didn’t fit in with it anymore.
The only song that was kept in the film from They Might Be Giants was the song that Coraline’s Other Father sings to entertain her. A detail you might have missed, however, is that he also is singing it to warn her about the alternative universe.
Since they were given the boot, They Might Be Giants have released some of the songs just as they are, rather than as part of a movie soundtrack. Coraline ended up having a choir singing gibberish as the soundtrack instead.
Do you know any other interesting facts about Coraline? Let us know in the comments!
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