LAIKA Studios to blaze trail of ‘Coraline’ cats in downtown Portland

‘Coraline’s Curious Cat Trail’ will be a free urban trail featuring sculptures hand-painted by local artists.

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Teri Hatcher, the voice of Other Mother in “Coraline,” attended the trail countdown event on Feb. 22, 2024.

Photo courtesy of LAIKA

At LAIKA Studios, creating people, creatures, and film sets is usually a matter of scaling down. But the Hillsboro-based stop-motion animation house is working on something new — something that will be larger than life, literally. We’re talking about an urban trail featuring sculptures of nearly 6-ft-tall cats painted by local artists.

We get it, you have questions. Let’s back things up a bit.

LAIKA’s first feature film, released in 2009, was a dark fantasy horror based on a novella by Neil Gaiman. “Coraline” follows its eponymous, blue-haired heroine who discovers an alternate reality that seems pretty perfect, but turns out to be quite rotten. Along the way, Coraline is accompanied by a snarky black cat known as — wait for it — The Cat.

In honor of the Oscar-nominated film’s 15-year anniversary and LAIKA’s local roots, downtown Portland will host “Coraline’s Curious Cat Trail,” a self-guided walking route featuring 30 statues of The Cat hand-painted by local artists. The trail will be free for visitors to enjoy with the help of maps, a dedicated website, and social media. LAIKA, the Visit Downtown Campaign, Wild in Art, and OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital came together for a countdown event last week. The trail will open in August.

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Portland Business Alliance President Andrew Hoan shows an example of the sculptures, which will eventually be auctioned off with all proceeds supporting OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Photo courtesy of LAIKA

“In the memorable cast of ‘Coraline’ characters, Cat is a perfect fit for the trail,” said LAIKA’s Chief Marketing and Operations Officer David Burke. “We believe this experience will bolster Portland’s vibrant creative community and support OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.”

The Cat will make its debut, but Coraline (and Norman from LAIKA’s 2012 blockbuster “ParaNorman”) are familiar faces in Portland and have been spotted strolling the trails of Forest Park, the International Rose Test Garden, and Hoyt Arboretum.

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