MARCH 5, 2009: PORTLAND (From Business Wire) — LAIKA has announced that Travis Knight has been named President and CEO of the company. Knight succeeds Dale Wahl, who has held the position since 2005. Knight, who sits on the LAIKA Board and has been Head of Animation since 2007, was one of the lead animators on Coraline, the first stop-motion animated feature film to be produced in 3D. The appointments were announced by Philip H. Knight, LAIKA’s owner and Chairman of the Board. Mr. Knight is also Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of Nike, Inc.
“Travis’ passion has always been the arts in general and filmmaking in particular,” said Phil Knight. “He was Coraline’s earliest champion, playing a key role in our decision to greenlight the project and his creative contribution as lead animator on the film was immense. His ambitious business vision for LAIKA grows out of a first-hand understanding of, and reverence for, the creative process. I’m confident that our new leadership team will continue to move LAIKA to the forefront of the animation industry.
“Dale Wahl steps down as CEO at his request,” Mr. Knight continues. “After four years and at age 65 he felt, in his words, it was time to smell one rose. Dale moves into the position of Vice-Chairman to help Travis transition into their new positions until his retirement from LAIKA at the end of this October. In addition, he will temporarily fill the role of Executive Vice President of Business Operations and CFO until we complete our search to fill that position. With his steady leadership and business acumen, Dale has presided over our nascent feature film operation as well as our thriving commercial division, led by LAIKA/house President Lourri Hammack. The success of both areas of the company under his leadership has gotten us off to a great start.”
Travis Knight says, “At our core, LAIKA is an audacious, scrappy, and inventive community of filmmakers, driven by our love of animation, a belief in its endless possibilities, and confidence in its promise to touch the world. LAIKA’s potential is limitless. In both the entertainment and commercial arenas, we will continue to develop our visual and storytelling expertise across all animation formats. Simply put, we hope to grow into the boldest, most innovative animation studio in the world.”
Travis has been involved in all business and creative decision-making at LAIKA since the company’s inception in 2005, when Phil Knight took over Vinton Studios, Portland’s renowned animation studio with a distinguished 30-year history, and re-christened it LAIKA. Travis joined Vinton Studios in 1998 as a stop-motion animator, working on the Emmy Award-winning television series The PJs, produced with Eddie Murphy Productions and Imagine Entertainment, as well as the animated series Gary & Mike on UPN. He earned his CG animation stripes by animating numerous television commercials (McDonald’s, Hostess, M&M’s) and promo spots, including the NFL on Fox campaign. In June 2007, he was honored by Animation magazine as one of the Rising Stars of Animation. He has served on LAIKA’s Board of Directors since 2003.