Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight to helm an animated adaptation of the reality-bending novel Piranesi

Laika Studios CEO Travis Knight is getting behind the camera for an adaptation of Susanna Collins’s weird and wonderful Piranesi.

Piranesi, Travis Knight

Travis Knight, the director of Bumblebee and Kubo and the Two Strings and the CEO of Laika Studios, is gearing up for something strange with an animated adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s best-selling novel Piranesi. Before Knight commits himself to bringing this weird and wonderful tale to life, he’s busy working on Wildwood, a stop-motion animated adaptation of the fantasy novels by Colin Meloy. Laika’s intention to bring Wildwood to screens dates back to when the premiere animation studio made The Boxtrolls. I should know. I was there and read Wildwood in my hotel after the studio teased the project.

Wildwood stars the voices of Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Jacob Tremblay, Mahershala Ali, and more. The story is told from multiple points of view, and the book features more than eighty illustrations, including six full-color plates. In Wildwood, Prue and her friend Curtis uncover a secret world amid violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. What begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.

Here’s a synopsis for Collins’s Piranesi courtesy of Amazon:

Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays, Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times, he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone.

Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they, and what do they want? Are they friends, or do they bring destruction and madness, as the Other claims?

Lost texts must be found, and secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous.

The beauty of the House is immeasurable; its kindness is infinite.

Well, I know what I’m reading tonight. I’m something of a Laika Studios obsessive and enjoy having foreknowledge of projects they’re working on. Collins’s novel sounds like catnip to my ears, and I’ve already purchased my digital copy.

Piranesi is a treasure, and very dear to me. As a filmmaker, I can scarcely imagine a more joyful experience than wandering through the worlds Susanna dreamed into being,” said Knight. “She’s one of my all-time favorite authors, and with Piranesi, Susanna has created a beautiful, devastating and ultimately life-affirming work of art. I’m humbled that she chose LAIKA as her home.”

Regarding the adaptation, Collins admits to being an animation enthusiast and fan of Laika’s library of work. She’s thrilled to have Knight and Laika interested in bringing her award-winning story to life, and we can’t wait to see it.

“Animation is one of my favourite things. I’ve been inspired by so many animated movies; and LAIKA has produced such extraordinary work — movies like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, full of beauty and wonder and weirdness. I’m thrilled that Piranesi has found a home with them and I can’t wait to see what they do,” said Collins.

I can barely contain my excitement about this project. I wasn’t kidding when I said I bought the book and plan to start reading it tonight. That’s how quickly I caved into Laika’s story selection. Am I a Laika shill? Absolutely. I wear that label like a badge of honor. Bring it on!

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.