Awards Profile 2019: Chris Butler’s ‘Missing Link’ From Laika and Annapurna Pictures

Welcome to the 2019 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you in the coming year (at least at this time of writing). The series analyzes the films and their awards season potential, most notably for the Academy Awards, based on the talents attached, filmmakers involved, and story and source material.  Monday through Friday until mid-May, AwardsCircuit will bring you a new and exciting project and discuss its chances for success. If you have a suggestion for a movie we should cover, include it in the comments section below. If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “Missing Link”

DISTRIBUTOR: United Artists Releasing
DIRECTOR: Chris Butler
PRODUCER: Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
WRITER: Chris Butler
CAST: Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant, David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Amrita Acharia, Humphrey Ker, Adam Godley, Matthew Wolf, Neil Dickson, Ching Valdes-Aran, Darren Richardson, Ian Ruskin, Jaswant Dev Shrestha, Alan Shearman, Richard Miro, and Jack Blessing
SYNOPSIS: The charismatic Sir Lionel Frost considers himself to be the world’s foremost investigator of myths and monsters. The trouble is none of his small-minded high-society peers seems to recognize this. Sir Lionel’s last chance for acceptance by the adventuring elite rests on traveling to America’s Pacific Northwest to prove the existence of a legendary creature. A living remnant of Man’s primitive ancestry. The Missing Link.  (IMDB)

RELEASED ON: April 12th, 2019

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

Of all the 2019 releases thus far, Laika’s “Missing Link” is the only one guaranteed an Oscar nomination. History is the biggest proponent of this declaration. From the start of their run with Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride,” every effort made by the stop-motion animation studio has been recognized by the Academy. Even with juggernaut competitors in “Frozen 2” and “Toy Story 4,’ Chris Butler’s Himalayan adventure tale should make an effortless campaign into the lineup.

Having been released so early in the year shouldn’t be a problem for the likes of its vocal lead, Hugh Jackman. The charismatic actor’s charm is sure put a spell on voters, be it luncheons or other awards-related events. Annapurna’s production backing will also aid in visibility. The Megan Ellison-led distribution studio is known for bouncing back during awards season despite poor box office performance for their respective contenders.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

Budgeted at $100 million and grossing less than $25 million worldwide, “Missing Link” is among the biggest box office bombs of 2019. If Laika is ever to produce an expected awards contender that utterly flounders before running the circuit, this would be it. Butler’s animated endeavor might be the first Laika picture to take the awards buzz wind out of the studio’s sail. Its downgraded visuals from “Kubo and the Two Strings” also take it out of the running for a surprise visual effects nod that the aforementioned nominee received in 2017.

With a “68” score on Metacritic, “Missing Link” is the second-lowest rated Laika feature, just slightly above “The Boxtrolls,” which sits at a mediocre “61.” Reviews scaling on the lower end of the studio’s filmography don’t bode particularly well for awards prospects. Usually, great reviews can offset abysmal box office, but “Missing Link” having neither could leave it buried beneath Disney’s oncoming avalanche. Ironically, “Missing Link” is lacking that creative spark of singularity that set apart earlier Laika films from the rest of its respective competition.

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Animated Feature (Chris Butler, Travis Knight, and Arianne Sutner)
  • Original Screenplay (Chris Butler)
  • Original Score (Carter Burwell)

Does “Missing Link” have what it takes to go the Oscar distance…or not? Let us know in the comments below!

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