I am thousands of miles from Laika's studio and have no inside information. However, I've been interested in following the company's fortunes as it is one of the few companies making stop motion features.
Travis Knight, CEO, animator and director, is going to direct a Transformers spinoff for Paramount.
This is unexpected and raises many questions about the future of Laika. It's clear from the budgets and grosses of Laika's films that the company is not self-supporting. I've always thought that it has survived because Travis Knight wanted it to, and because his father, Phil Knight of Nike, was willing to financially support the company on his son's behalf.
What does Travis Knight's latest move mean? Is he just looking for a change of pace with the intention of returning to Laika? Was there an understanding between father and son that Laika had to become profitable after some amount of time or number of films, and if it didn't the subsidy would end?
Travis Knight is the reason that Laika exists. Without him, there is no reason for Phil Knight to finance a money-losing company. Perhaps this is nothing more than an opportunity that popped up and was hard to resist, but Travis Knight's plans and the box office success of the Transformer's spinoff could have a major impact on the continued existence of Laika.