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Animation studio drawn to Tualatin

Groundbreaking at the proposed site for Laika Entertainment is set for early 2007

TUALATIN - A world-class feature film animation studio is coming to the area, and surprise, it won't be located in Portland or any of the other larger metro areas.

The new proposed 30-acre campus for Laika Entertainment will be the first of its kind in the city of Tualatin.

Co-founder and chairman of Nike, Philip Knight, also the owner and chairman of Laika, reportedly bought the 29.5 acres of shovel-ready land at the corner of Leveton Drive and 118th Avenue.

The proposed three-building project is expected to be home to a state-of-the art animation studio in the city's manufacturing park district. Groundbreaking at the site is planned for early 2007.

The company's announcement released Wednesday noted that 'Laika's world-class animation facility' is scheduled to open in 2008. The company expects to see an expanding film production schedule and with it a soaring employee roster of more than 400 within the next two years.

Laika was rebranded in the summer of 2005 after absorbing Vinton Studios, an animation leader for more than 30 years.

The company's latest project, 'Coraline,' will feature the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher and the comedy duo French and Saunders.

'LAIKA Entertainment has a world-class roster of talent and projects, and I felt it was time to provide them with a fulltime home,' Knight said in Wednesday's press release.

'Just as we anticipate our films will look like no others before them, so too will this campus make a bold and distinct architectural statement.'

The city has not received any building permit or land-use applications yet. However, Tualatin Community Development Director Doug Rux said that cursory discussions have centered on the site's design concept.

According to Wednesday's press release, phase one of the campus construction will include buildings dedicated to computer generated imagery animation, stop-motion animation and core corporate services including reception, executive offices, conference rooms, fitness center, cafeteria and theatre.

Wednesday's press release noted that Steve Oster, executive director of Oregon Film and Video Office, is thrilled with the steps that Laika and Knight are taking to bring economic growth and cultural enrichment to the region.

'The Laika campus is an essential part of our strategy to be a major force in the global animated film business and will play a key role in defining the culture we want to establish for our entertainment division,' said Laika President and CEO Dale Wahl.

'This facility will be a sought-after destination for the highest caliber of animation talent in the world.'