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Henry Selick's new animated film set in Ashland

With a depiction of Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 'Coraline' opens Friday at Ashland Street Cinemas
 Posted: 12:50 PM February 05, 2009

"Coraline" is a new animated adventure directed by Henry Selick, director of the cult classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach." It's the type of artistic film that appeals to the young and young-at-heart in Ashland.

But there's a bigger reason local movie lovers will line up at Ashland Street Cinemas on Friday: "Coraline" is set here.

"I could have set it anywhere in the world. But no, I set it here (in Ashland)," Selick stated in a press release.

Movie times

Ashland Street Cinemas

1644 Ashland St., 488-4040

Friday — 3:25, 5:55, 8:25

Saturday and Sunday — 12:55, 3:25, 5:55, 8:25

British author Neil Gaiman wrote the book, which was set in Britain. It tells the story of Coraline, a bored young girl whose parents don't have time for her. She finds a portal to a different world that's similar to her own, except with a doting Other Mother and Other Father, who happen to have buttons for eyes. The major conflict begins when Coraline tries to leave the Other World, and finds she can't easily.

"I think (the story's setting) works anywhere," said Bloomsbury Books children's buyer Anita Isser. "They're looking for a little strange environment, something other-worldly."

Certainly, Ashland can be the type of rainy, foggy and creepy town that fits the story's environment, but to those familiar with Gaiman's book, the reason Ashland was chosen is clear. Coraline's next-door neighbors, Miss Forcible and Miss Spink, are Shakespearean actresses.

"When I wrote the screenplay, I chose Oregon because I wanted to keep some of the characters British. There is a Shakespeare festival in Ashland," Selick stated.

In the book, they advise Coraline of actors' superstitions, such as mentioning "the Scottish play."

Although the setting changed, fans of the book will be relieved to see all of the characters from the book come alive on the silver screen, plus a couple of new ones, such as Coraline's nosy next-door neighbor, Wybie.

"I'd say that Wybie is based on some of the youth culture in Ashland. He has his own self-made bike. "¦ He is at one with nature. But he is also a little bit of a hipster," Selick stated.

According to the press release, Selick's damp and gloomy vision of Ashland will differ from the real thing.

Lee Fuchsmann of Coming Attractions Theatres, who has seen extended previews of the film, agrees with Selick. Coraline's Ashland isn't an accurate portrayal, but she doesn't expect that to hinder the local success of the film.

"Even seeing 'Twilight' was highly successful because it was filmed in Oregon," said Fuchsmann, "that always gives the film an edge."

Fuchsmann added that the film still has an Oregon angle because it was animated at Laika Entertainment House animation studio in Portland.

"I'm excited about the movie. I loved 'Nightmare Before Christmas,'" Fuchsmann said.

For Bloomsbury, Gaiman's books have always sold well, but there hasn't been a spike in book sales — yet.

"We've been selling this book ("Coraline") for several years, and it's been selling consistently. That'll probably change after the movie comes out," said Karen Chapman, co-owner of Bloomsbury Books.

Nick Morgan can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 230 or

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