Coraline is a 2009 American stop-motion animated dark fantasy film directed and written for the screen by Henry Selick based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman.[4] Produced by Laika as its first feature film, Coraline stars the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr., and Ian McShane. The film depicts an adventurous girl named Coraline finding an idealized parallel world behind a secret door in her new home, unaware that the alternative world contains a dark and sinister secret.

Coraline poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHenry Selick
Produced by
Written byHenry Selick
Based onCoraline
by Neil Gaiman
Music byBruno Coulais
CinematographyPete Kozachik
Edited by
Distributed byFocus Features
Release date
  • February 5, 2009 (2009-02-05) (PIFF)[1]
  • February 6, 2009 (2009-02-06) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$60 million[3]
Box office$124.6 million[3]

The film was released in United States theaters on February 6, 2009 by Focus Features after a world premiere at the Portland International Film Festival,[5] and received critical acclaim. The film made $16.85 million during opening weekend, ranking third at the box office,[6] and by the end of its run had grossed over $124 million worldwide. Coraline won Annie Awards for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production, Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production and Best Production Design in an Animated Feature Production, and received nominations for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film.


Coraline Jones and her family move from Pontiac, Michigan, to Ashland, Oregon's Pink Palace Apartments. As her parents struggle to complete their gardening catalogue, Coraline is often left alone and meets their new neighbors, including Mr. Sergey Alexander Bobinsky, a Russian circus mouse trainer, Misses April Spink and Miriam Forcible, two once-famous and retired actresses, Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, the talkative grandson of Pink Palace's landlady, and a mysterious black cat. Wybie gives Coraline a button-eyed rag doll he discovered that eerily resembles her. The doll lures Coraline to a small door in the apartment that is bricked up and can only be unlocked by a button-shaped key.

That night, a mouse guides Coraline through the door, now a portal to an “Other World” more colorful and cheerful than her real home. Coraline meets her Other Mother and Father, button-eyed doppelgängers of her parents that appear more attentive and caring. After dinner, Coraline goes to sleep in her Other Bedroom, only to awaken in her real bedroom the next morning. After meeting neighbors Mr Bobinsky and Miss Spink and Forcible, Wybie tells her about his grandmother's twin sister who disappeared in the apartment as a child. Undeterred, Coraline visits the Other World the following two nights, meeting the button-eyed Other Mr Bobinsky, the Other Misses Spink and Forcible, and the Other Wybie, who is mute. On her third visit, the black cat follows her and is able to speak in the Other World.

The Other Mother invites Coraline to stay in the Other World forever, on the condition she has buttons sewn over her eyes. Horrified, Coraline attempts to flee but fails. After questioning the other father, Coraline has a conversation with the cat as they walk into the empty part of the world the other Mother created. After breaking the handles of the locked door which leads to the room where the portal is, the Other Mother has blocked the portal and transforms into a menacing version of herself and imprisons Coraline behind a mirror. There, Coraline meets the ghosts of the Other Mother's previous child victims, including the sister of Wybie's grandmother. The spirits reveal that the Other Mother, whom they call the “Beldam,” used rag dolls like Coraline's to spy on them, taking advantage of their unhappy lives and luring them into the Other World with happier and joyful lives. After agreeing to let the Beldam sew buttons on their eyes to let them stay, the Beldam locked them in the mirror and "consumed" their lives, leaving their souls trapped. To free their souls, Coraline promises to find the children's real eyes.

Coraline is rescued by the Other Wybie and escapes back to the real world. She discovers her parents are missing, and realizes they have been kidnapped by the Beldam. Miss Spink and Miss Forcible give Coraline an adder stone, telling her that it finds lost things. And she returns to the Other World but falls into a trap. The Beldam locks the door to the portal and swallows its key, but Coraline, following the black cat's advice, proposes a game: if Coraline cannot find her parents and the ghosts' eyes, she will allow her to sew buttons over her own eyes, but if she succeeds, the children's souls will be freed and she can have her real parents back. The Beldam reluctantly agrees and disappears after giving her a clue: "In each of three wonders I've made for you, a ghost's eyes is lost in plain sight."[7]

Using the adder stone, Coraline finds the children's eyes and discovers that the Other Wybie was destroyed by the Beldam for helping Coraline escape. As Coraline finds the eyes, the Other World gradually disintegrates until only her family's living room is left. Coraline sees the Beldam in her true skeletal, arachnid form, after showing the Beldam the ghost's eyes, she reminds Coraline that she still has to find her real parents. The ghosts warn her that even if Coraline wins the games, the Beldam will never let her go. Coraline, knowing what to do, tricks the Beldam into unlocking the portal. While the Beldam is distracted, the cat finds her parents trapped in a snow globe, Coraline then throws the cat at the Beldam's face, ripping her button eyes out. Blinded, the Beldam furiously listens for Coraline and almost manages to get her. But Coraline, with help of the ghosts, manages to close the door and lock it but severing the Beldam's left hand.

Coraline's parents reappear in the real world with no memory of what happened to them. That night, the ghosts appear in a dream to thank Coraline for freeing their souls and also warn her that the Beldam will never stop looking for the key to the door. As Coraline prepares to drop the key down an old well, the severed hand tries to drag her back to the Other World. But Wybie arrives on his bike and manages to grab the hand with a pair of tongs, but it breaks free, causing him to almost fall into the well. As the hand tries to loosen Wybie's grip for survival, Coraline wraps it in her towel, but it breaks free and it is about to attack her when Wybie smashes it with a rock. They throw the remains of the hand, the key, and the rock into the well and seal it shut.

The next day, Coraline and her parents, who have finally finished their catalog, host a garden party for their neighbors. Wybie arrives to the party along with his grandmother, Mrs Lovat. Coraline is happy to meet her and greets her kindly. The camera zooms out from the garden revealing its design which resembles Beldam's face. The camera keeps zooming out to the front of the Pink Palace. The Cat is seen lying on a wooden sign when he stands up and walks into the side vanishing mysteriously, which suggests that he went to the "Other World" through another unknown entrance.

Voice castEdit

  • Dakota Fanning as Coraline Jones, a curious 11-year-old[8][9] girl with blue hair
  • Teri Hatcher as Mel Jones, Coraline's mother, and the Beldam/Other Mother, the ruler of the Other World
  • Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French as April Spink and Miriam Forcible, respectively, a pair of retired burlesque actresses
  • Keith David as The Cat, a sarcastic, mysterious, nameless black cat from Coraline's world who appears and disappears at will and has the ability to speak in the Other World
  • John Hodgman as Charlie Jones, Coraline's father and the Other Father
  • Robert Bailey Jr. as Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, the geeky, nervous 11-year-old grandson of Coraline's landlady Mrs. Lovat. Wybie, who doesn't appear in the novel, is a character created for the film adaptation so that the viewer "wouldn't have a girl walking around, occasionally talking to herself".[10]
  • Ian McShane as Sergei Alexander Bobinsky, a former Chernobyl liquidators and one of Coraline's neighbors, who owns a jumping mice circus, and whose nickname is "Mr B."
  • Carolyn Crawford as Mrs. Lovat, Wybie's grandmother and the owner of the Pink Palace Apartments
  • Aankha Neal as Sweet Ghost Girl, Mrs. Lovat's missing twin sister, Wybie's great-aunt and the most recent victim of Beldam.
  • George Selick as Ghost Boy, the second and only male victim of Beldam.
  • Hannah Kaiser as Tall Ghost Girl, the first victim of Beldam interpreted by her Midwestern clothing.
  • Marina Budovsky as Photo Friend #1, a friend of Coraline's back home in Michigan.
  • Harry Selick as Photo Friend #2, a friend of Coraline's back home in Michigan.


"Coraline [was] a huge risk. But these days in animation, the safest bet is to take a risk."

Henry Selick[11]

Director Henry Selick met author Neil Gaiman just as Gaiman was finishing the novel Coraline, and given that Gaiman was a fan of Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas, he invited him to make a possible film adaptation. As Selick thought a direct adaptation would lead to "maybe a 47-minute movie", his screenplay had some expansions, such as the creation of Wybie. When looking for a design away from that of most animation, Selick discovered the work of Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi and invited him to become the concept artist. One of Uesugi's biggest influences was on the color palette, which was muted in reality and more colorful in the Other World.[10] Uesugi declared that "at the beginning, it was supposed to be a small project over a few weeks to simply create characters; however, I ended up working on the project for over a year, eventually designing sets and backgrounds, on top of drawing the basic images for the story to be built upon."[12]

Coraline was staged in a 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) warehouse in Hillsboro, Oregon.[11][13] The stage was divided into 50 lots,[14] which played host to nearly 150 sets.[11] Among the sets were three miniature Victorian mansions, a 42-foot (12.8 m) apple orchard, and a model of Ashland, Oregon, including tiny details such as banners for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.[13] More than 28[clarification needed] animators worked at a time on rehearsing or shooting scenes, producing 90–100 seconds of finished animation each week.[15] To add the stereoscopy for the 3D release, the animators shot each frame from two slightly apart camera positions.[10]

Every object on screen was made for the film.[10] The crew used three 3D printing systems from Objet in the development and production of the film. Thousands of high-quality 3D models, ranging from facial expressions to doorknobs, were printed in 3D using the Polyjet matrix systems, which enable the fast transformation of CAD (computer-aided design) drawings into high-quality 3D models.[16] The puppets had separate parts for the upper and lower parts of the head that could be exchanged for different facial expressions,[10] and the characters of Coraline could potentially exhibit over 208,000 facial expressions.[16] Computer artists composited separately-shot elements together, or added elements of their own, which had to look handcrafted instead of computer-generated – for instance, the flames were done with traditional animation and painted digitally, and the fog was dry ice.[10]

At its peak, the film involved the efforts of 450 people,[11] including from 30[13] to 35[11] animators and digital designers in the Digital Design Group (DDG), directed by Dan Casey, and more than 250 technicians and designers.[13] One crew member, Althea Crome, was hired specifically to knit miniature sweaters and other clothing for the puppet characters, sometimes using knitting needles as thin as human hair.[11] The clothes also simulated wear using paint and a file.[10] Several students from The Art Institute of Portland were also involved in making the film.[citation needed]


The soundtrack for Coraline features songs by French composer Bruno Coulais, with one, "Other Father Song", by They Might Be Giants. The Other Father's singing voice is provided by John Linnell, one of the singers from the band. They had initially written 10 songs for the film; when a melancholy tone was decided, all but one were cut. Coulais' score was performed by the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra and features choral pieces sung by the Children's Choir of Nice in a nonsense language.[17] Selick mentions that the main soloist, "a young girl you hear singing in several parts of the film," is coincidentally named Coraline.[17] Coraline won Coulais the 2009 Annie Award for best score for an animated feature.

Soundtrack list
  • "Sirens of the Sea" – Performed by Michele Mariana
  • "Other Father Song" – Written and performed by John Linnell
  • "Nellie Jean" – Performed by Kent Melton
  • "Dreaming" – Performed by Bruno Coulais, The Children's Choir of Nice, and Teri Hatcher


Coraline was theatrically released on February 6, 2009.

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on July 21, 2009, by Universal Studios Home Entertainment. A 3-D version comes with four sets of 3-D glasses—specifically the green-magenta anaglyph image. Coraline was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2009. A 3-D version of the film was also released on a 2-Disc Collector's Edition. The DVD opened to first week sales of 1,036,845 and over $19 million in revenue. Total sales stand at over 2.6 million units and over $45 million in revenue.[18] A two-disc Blu-ray 3D set, which includes a stereoscopic 3D on the first disc and an anaglyph 3D image, was released in 2011.

Other mediaEdit

The website for Coraline involves an interactive exploration game where the player can scroll through Coraline's world. It won the 2009 Webby Award for "Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphics", both by the people and the Webby organization. It was also nominated for the Webby "Movie and Film" category.[19] On June 16, 2008, D3 Publisher announced the release of a video game based on the film. It was developed by Papaya Studio for the Wii and PlayStation 2 and by Art Co. for Nintendo DS. It was released on January 27, 2009, close to the film's theatrical release.[20] The soundtrack was released digitally February 3, 2009, by E1 Music, and in stores on February 24, 2009.


Box officeEdit

According to Paul Dergarabedian, a film business analyst with Media by Numbers, for the film to succeed it needed a box office comparable to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which had grossed $16 million its opening weekend and ended up making more than $192 million worldwide; prior to the film's release, Dergarabedian thought Laika Studios "should be really pleased" were Coraline to make $10 million in its opening weekend.[13] In its US opening weekend, the film grossed $16.85 million, ranking third at the box office.[6] It made $15 million during its second weekend, bringing its U.S. total up to $35.6 million, $25.5 million of which came from 3D presentations.[21] As of November 2009, the film has grossed $75,286,229 in the United States and Canada and $49,310,169 in other territories, for a total of $124,596,398 worldwide.[3]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 266 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With its vivid stop-motion animation combined with Neil Gaiman's imaginative story, Coraline is a film that's both visually stunning and wondrously entertaining."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[23]

David Edelstein said the film is "a bona fide fairy tale" that needed a "touch less entrancement and a touch more ... story."[24] A. O. Scott of The New York Times called the film "exquisitely realized," with a "slower pace and a more contemplative tone than the novel. It is certainly exciting, but rather than race through ever noisier set pieces toward a hectic climax in the manner of so much animation aimed at kids, Coraline lingers in an atmosphere that is creepy, wonderfully strange and full of feeling."[25]


Awards and nominations
Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Henry Selick Nominated
American Film Institute Awards Best 10 Movies Won
Annie Awards
Best Animated Feature Nominated
Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production Henry Selick Nominated
Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Dawn French Nominated
Best Music in an Animated Feature Production Bruno Coulais Won
Best Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Travis Knight Nominated
Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Shane Prigmore; Shannon Tindle Won
Best Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Christopher Appelhans; Tadahiro Uesugi Won
Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Chris Butler Nominated
Annecy International Animated Film Festival Best Feature – Tied Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
BAFTA Children's Award Best Feature Film Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Cinema Audio Society Awards
Lifetime Achievement Henry Selick Won
Career Achievement (sound designer/re-recording mixer) Randy Thom Won
EDA [Alliance of Women Film Journalists] Award
Best Animated Female ([the character of] Coraline) Won
Best Animated Film Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects, Foley, Music, Dialogue and ADR Animation in a Feature Film Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
People's Choice Awards Best Animated 3D Movie of 2009 Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Producer of the Year in Animated Motion Picture Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Feature Won
St. Louis Film Critics Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards
Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Claire Jennings, Henry Selick Nominated
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Coraline – Lead Animators Travis Knight and Trey Thomas Nominated
Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture John Allan Armstrong, Richard Kent Burton, Craig Dowsett Nominated
Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Feature Motion Picture Deborah Cook, Matthew DeLeu, Paul Mack, Martin Meunier Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Nominated

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hudetz, Mary (February 6, 2009). "Made in Oregon: animated 'Coraline'". KVAL. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  2. ^ "Coraline rated PG by the BBFC". BBFC. January 29, 2009. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved April 5, 2009. Run Time 100m 19s
  3. ^ a b c "Coraline". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
  4. ^ Savage, Annaliza (November 14, 2008). "Gaiman Calls Coraline the Strangest Stop-Motion Film Ever". Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  5. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (February 5, 2009). "'Coraline' premiere offers Portland some Hollywood glitter". Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  6. ^ a b DiOrio, Carl (February 8, 2009). "Moviegoers into 'Into You'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  7. ^ Ed Hooks (2013). Acting for Animators. Routledge.
  8. ^ Wojczuk, Montana (February 25, 2009). "Coraline Hits the Screen, Stage and Page". Paste Magazine. Retrieved December 7, 2014. ...Seeing a real 11-year old girl in peril,...
  9. ^ Ulaby, Neda (February 5, 2009). "Henry Selick, Keeping Stop-Motion Moving Ahead". NPR. Retrieved December 7, 2014. The title character, aged 11,..
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "The Making of Coraline", Coraline DVD
  11. ^ a b c d e f McNichol, Tom (February 2009). "Hollywood Knights". Portland Monthly. Retrieved February 15, 2009.
  12. ^ Desowitz, Bill (January 23, 2009). "Tadahiro Uesugi Talks 'Coraline' Design". Animation World. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d e Mesh, Aaron (February 4, 2009). "Suspended Animation". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
  14. ^ "Backstage view (19th of 21 backlot production photos)". David Strick's Hollywood Backlot. Los Angeles Times. August 7, 2008. Retrieved February 15, 2009. Backstage view of the facility in which Coraline's stop-motion animation is filmed in Portland, Oregon. The Coraline stage is divided into approximately 50 units separated by black curtains. Each unit contains a different set that is in the process of being dressed, lit, rigged or shot.
  15. ^ J. McLean, Thomas (September 16, 2008). "On the Set with 'Coraline': Where the Motion Doesn't Stop". Animation World Network. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Objet Geometries (February 5, 2009). "Objet Geometries' 3-D Printers Play Starring Role in New Animated Film Coraline". PR Newswire UK. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Capone (February 2, 2009). "Capone Talks with Coraline Director and Wizard Master Henry Selick". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  18. ^ "Movie Coraline – DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  19. ^ "13th Annual Webby Awards Nominees & Winners". The Webby Awards. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2009.
  20. ^ Remo, Chris (June 16, 2008). "D3 Announces Coraline And Shaun The Sheep Adaptations". Gamasutra. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  21. ^ "Holdovers Live Under Killer Friday Debut". Box Office Mojo. February 15, 2009. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
  22. ^ "Coraline (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  23. ^ "Coraline Reviews". Metacritic. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
  24. ^ Edelstein, David (February 1, 2009). "What You See Is What You Get". New York Magazine. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
  25. ^ Scott, A.O. (February 6, 2009). "Cornered in a Parallel World". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2009.

External linksEdit