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It was surprising to learn recently that Disney had pulled the plug on a project so expensive that the studio took a $50 million loss on it… before it even went into production. Then it was outright dismaying to learn that the project was coming from none other than Henry Selick, the stop-motion animation master behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and, more recently, Coraline. Selick seemed to have the kind of good name and imagination that any studio would want to get behind, but without much explanation, Disney kicked his project to the curb, seeming to doom it for the near future.

A ray of hope emerged when rumors circled that Laika Studios, the outfit behind Coraline and the terrific recent film ParaNorman, might pick up Selick's mystery project, which at one point went under the name ShadeMaker. Now even that bit of hope has been dashed. Slashfilm picked up on a report in The Oregonian that Selick had indeed visited the Portland-based Laika to talk about putting the project together, but they couldn't work out a deal. Selick's project remains homeless, and the visionary animator remains without a studio to call home.

This is a pretty sad turn of events for those of us who adore Selick's imaginative animation style, or even those of us who admire Laika-- Selick seemed like a natural fit there, and though his split from them in 2009 seemed to indicate some kind of creative differences, a homecoming made perfect sense in a lot of ways. It's hard to imagine Selick won't land on his feet somewhere, but for right now it seems this mystery project-- whatever it is-- may not see the light of day at all.