Fresh off an Academy Award nomination for his critically acclaimed film "Kubo and the Two Strings," it looks like Hillsboro film director Travis Knight is headed to Hollywood.
Knight, 43, is president and CEO of Laika Entertainment, the Hillsboro stop-motion animation studio. Last week, Deadline magazine reported that Knight had been chosen to helm his first big-budget studio production, tackling "Bumblebee," a spinoff of the blockbuster "Transformers" franchise.
"Kubo" was Knight's directorial debut. The film was a critical darling, earning Academy award and Golden Glove nominations — yet didn't perform well at the box office.
Laika has released four feature films, three under Knight's tenure as CEO. All four earned Academy Award nods for best animated feature film, but none have walked away with the statue. This year the studio received a technical award from the Academy for its work to bridge the gap between traditional stop-motion animation and CGI.
According to Deadline, Knight will direct the film, which will be produced by Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg.
Laika spokeswoman Maggie Begley declined to comment on "Bumblebee" or whether Knight's departure from the studio might affect Laika or the currently unnamed film the studio is working on. Laika has been hard at work for years on its fifth feature film. No details have been released about the project, but the company has optioned the rights to Portland singer-songwriter Colin Meloy's fantasy novel "Wildwood" and Philip Reeve's "Goblins."
According to The Oregonian newspaper, the news came as a surprise inside Laika and led to questions from some whether Knight and his father, Nike founder Phil Knight, would continue to funding the independent studio, which Phil Knight purchased more than a decade ago.
"Laika isn't going anywhere," Travis Knight reportedly told Laika staff last week, according to the newspaper.
"Bumblebee" is expected to be released in June 2018.