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The Real Reason We Never Saw Henry Selick's The Shadow King

Following “Coraline,” Henry Selick would work alongside Pixar Animation Studios to develop a number of stop-motion films (via Variety). Selick would open a new production company called Cinderbiter Studios, which centered around family-friendly horror. One of these ideas would have been “The Shadow King,” a fantasy that tells the story of a young boy whose strange, elongated fingers create living hand shadows that fight in a war against a ravenous shadow monster. The film would be greenlit and production went underway. 

It wouldn’t be long until Pixar got its own spindly fingers into the process. John Lasseter, then the head of Pixar, made numerous requests to the production that complicated its scheduling and ultimately expanded its budget. “If he just left us alone, they would’ve had a really good movie for the budget,” Selick said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “That’s just not the way he worked back then.” 

As a result of this, and likely the underperformance of Tim Burton’s 2012 stop-motion family horror film, “Frankenweenie,” Disney pulled the plug on “The Shadow King” in 2012. Today, all that survives from the movie are five minutes of completed footage and various animation tests. 

Selick, who currently owns the rights to the project, would still love to see the film revived someday, as he told Collider. His newest film, “Wendell and Wild,” releases in theaters on October 21 and on Netflix on October 28.

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