Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by Chris Butler
Story by
  • Stephen Stone
  • Arianne Sutner
Music by Jon Brion[1]
Cinematography Tristan Oliver
Edited by Christopher Murrie
Distributed by Focus Features
Release dates
  • August 3, 2012 (2012-08-03) (Mexico)
  • August 17, 2012 (2012-08-17) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[3]
Box office $107.1 million[3]

ParaNorman is a 2012 American 3D stop-motion animated comedy horror film[4] produced by Laika, distributed by Focus Features and was released on August 17, 2012.[5] It stars the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jodelle Ferland, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein and John Goodman. It is the first stop-motion film to use a 3D color printer to create character faces and only the second to be shot in 3D.[6] The film mainly received positive reviews[7] and was a modest box office success, earning $107 million against its budget of $60 million.[3][8][9] The film received nominations for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.


In the small town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an 11-year-old boy who speaks with the dead, including his late grandmother (Elaine Stritch) and various ghosts in town. Almost no one believes him and he is isolated emotionally from his family while being ridiculed by his peers. His best friend, Neil Downe (Tucker Albrizzi), is an overweight boy who is bullied himself and finds in Norman a kindred spirit. During rehearsal of a school play commemorating the town's execution of a witch three centuries ago, Norman has a vision of the town's past in which he is pursued through the woods by townsfolk on a witch hunt. Afterward, the boys are confronted by Norman's estranged and seemingly deranged uncle Mr. Prenderghast (John Goodman) who tells his nephew that he soon must take up his regular ritual to protect the town. Soon after this encounter, Prenderghast dies from a sudden stroke. During the official performance of the school play Norman has another vision, creating a public spectacle of himself which leads to his father Perry (Jeff Garlin) grounding him. His mother Sandra (Leslie Mann) tells him that his father's stern manner is because he is afraid for him. The next day, Norman sees Prenderghast's spirit who tells him that the ritual must be performed with a certain book before sundown that day; then making him swear to complete the task, Prenderghast's spirit is set free and crosses over. Norman is at first reluctant to go because he is scared but his grandmother tells him it is all right to be scared as long as he does not let it change who he is. Norman sets off to retrieve the book from Prenderghast's house (having to take it from his corpse).

He then goes to the graves of the five men and two women who were cursed by the witch, but finds that the book is merely a series of fairy tales. Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a school bully, arrives and prevents Norman from reading the story before sundown. Norman attempts to continue reading from the book, to no effect. A ghostly storm resembling the witch appears in the air, summoning the cursed dead to arise as zombies, who chase the boys along with Norman's 17-year-old sister, Courtney (Anna Kendrick) and Neil's older brother, Mitch (Casey Affleck) down the hill and into town. Having realized that the witch was not buried in the graveyard, Norman contacts classmate Salma (who tells them to access the Town Hall's archives for the location of the witch's unmarked grave) for help. As the kids make their way to the Town Hall, the zombies are attacked by the citizenry. During the riot, Norman and his companions break into the archives but cannot find the information they need. As the mob moves to attack Town Hall, the witch storm appears over the crowd. Norman climbs the Hall's tower to read the book, in a last-ditch effort to finish the ritual, but the witch strikes the book with lightning, hurling Norman from the tower and deep into the archives.

Unconscious, Norman has a dream where he learns that the witch was Agatha Prenderghast (Jodelle Ferland), a little girl of his age who was also a medium. Norman realizes that Agatha was wrongfully convicted by the town council when they mistook her powers for witchcraft. After awakening, Norman encounters the zombies and recognizes them as the town council who convicted Agatha. The zombies admit that they only wanted to speak with him to ensure that he would take up the ritual, to minimize the damage of the mistake they made so long ago. Norman attempts to help the zombies slip away so they can guide him to Agatha's grave, but is cornered by the mob. Courtney, Mitch, Neil, and Alvin rally to Norman's side and confront the crowd, arguing that their rage, fear, and misunderstanding make them no different than the cursed townsfolk from long ago. Though the mob calms the witch unleashes her powers to create greater havoc throughout the town.

Judge Hopkins (Bernard Hill) guides Norman's family to the grave in a forest. Before the grave is reached, Agatha's magical powers separate Norman from the others. Norman finds the grave and interacts with Agatha's vengeful spirit, determined to stop the cataclysmic tantrum she has been having over the years. Though she attempts to push him away Norman holds his ground, telling her that he understands how she feels as an outcast, that her vengeance has only made her like the ones who wronged her, and eventually forcing her to remember happier days.

Having finally encountered someone who understands her plight, Agatha is able to find a measure of peace and cross over to the afterlife. The storm dissipates, and she and the zombies all fade away. The town cleans up and regards Norman as a hero. In the end, Norman watches a horror film with the ghost of his grandmother and his family, who have grown to accept Norman for who he is.

Voice cast


ParaNorman was the first film that used full-color 3D printers for animation.

Production of the stop-motion animation feature took place at Laika's studio in Hillsboro, Oregon.[15][16] The film was in production for three years with the animating stage of production lasting about two years, beginning in late 2009. Rather than using traditional 3D format cameras, the studio used sixty Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR cameras to film the movie.[17] Ad agency Wieden+Kennedy created the advertising campaign for the film.[15] ParaNorman is the first ever stop motion film to utilize full-color 3D printers for replacement animation, after Coraline pioneered and popularized the use of black and white 3D printers, which sped up puppet production considerably and allowed the team to make the large number of puppet faces required for the film.[18] "Quite often it’s the stop-motion movies that are more out there", co-director Fell told The New York Times. "They're a little quirkier, they're a little harder to pin down."[19]


Jon Brion composed the film's score, and an accompanying soundtrack album was released on August 14, 2012.[20] Bits of other music appear in the film, including theme music from Halloween, the Donovan song "Season of the Witch" (sung by the school play cast) and "Fix Up, Look Sharp" by British rapper Dizzee Rascal. "Little Ghost", a White Stripes song from their 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan, plays at the end, over character cards identifying the main cast. However, one track in the film (an updated version of "Aggie Fights") was not included in the soundtrack.


Home media

ParaNorman was released on DVD and Blu-ray, on November 27, 2012 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.[21]


Critical response

ParaNorman received largely positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 87% of critics have given the film positive reviews, with a rating average of 7.3/10 based on 160 reviews. The consensus statement reads, "Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents."[7] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, calculated a score of 72 based on 33 reviews, or "generally favorable reviews".[22] Justin Chang of Variety reviewed the film: "Few movies so taken with death have felt so rudely alive as ParaNorman, the latest handcrafted marvel from the stop-motion artists at Laika."[23] On the other hand, Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter said: "It has its entertaining moments, but this paranormal stop-motion animated comedy-chiller cries out for more activity."[12]

Box office

ParaNorman earned $56,003,051 in North America, and $51,136,348 overseas, for a worldwide total of $107,139,399.[3] The film premiered in Mexico on August 3, 2012 opening in second place with box office receipts of $2.2 million, behind The Dark Knight Rises.[24] For its opening weekend in North America, the film placed third with receipts of $14 million behind The Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy.[25] Travis Knight, head of the studio that produced the film, believed the box office total was fine, but that it did not live up to his expectations.[9]

Gay character

The film has drawn some attention for the revelation in its final scenes that Mitch is gay, making him the first openly gay character in a mainstream animated film.[26] Nancy French of the National Review Online suggested that the film could lead parents "to answer unwanted questions about sex and homosexuality on the way home from the movie theater".[27] Conversely, Mike Ryan of The Huffington Post cited Mitch's inclusion as one of the reasons why ParaNorman is "remarkable".[28] Co-director Chris Butler said that the character was explicitly connected with the film's message: "If we're saying to anyone that watches this movie don't judge other people, then we've got to have the strength of our convictions."[29] In 2013 GLAAD nominated ParaNorman as its first-ever PG-rated movie for its annual GLAAD Media Awards.[30]


List of awards and nominations
Award Category Winner/Nominee Result
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Sam Fell, Chris Butler Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Animated Film Won
Annie Awards[31][32] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Sam Fell, Chris Butler Nominated
Animated Effects in an Animated Production Andrew Nawrot, Joe Gorski, Grant Lake Nominated
Character Animation in a Feature Production Travis Knight Won
Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Heidi Smith Won
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Nelson Lowry, Ross Stewart, Pete Oswald, Ean McNamara, Trevor Dalmer Nominated
Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Emmanuela Cozzi Nominated
Writing in an Animated Feature Production Chris Butler Nominated
BAFTA Awards[33] Best Animated Film Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Won
Critics Choice Awards[34] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Won
Denver Film Critics Society Best Animated Feature Won
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Film - Wide Release Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Best Animated Film Nominated
Indiana Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Animated Film Won
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Online Film Critics Society[35] Best Animated Feature Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Animated Film Nominated
Producers Guild of America Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Animated Film Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Animated Feature Won
Satellite Awards[36] Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Nominated
Saturn Awards[37] Best Animated Film Sam Fell and Chris Butler Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Won
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Won
Utah Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Won
Visual Effects Society[38][39] Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Chris Butler, Sam Fell, Travis Knight, Brad Schiff Nominated
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Graveyard: Phil Brotherton, Robert Desue, Oliver Jones, Nick Mariana Nominated
Main Street: Alice Bird, Matt Delue, Caitlin Pashalek Nominated
Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Practical Volumetrics: Aidan Fraser, Joe Gorski, Eric Kuehne, Andrew Nawrot Nominated
Angry Aggie Ink-Blot Electricity: Michael Cordova, Grant Laker, Susanna Luck, Peter Vickery Nominated
Washington D. C. Area Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Won

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Goldberg, Matt (June 14, 2011). "Jon Brion to Score Laika's 3D Stop-Motion Animated Feature PARANORMAN". Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  2. "ParaNorman (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. July 11, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "ParaNorman". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  4. Buchanan, Jason. "ParaNorman (2012)". Allmovie. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  5. "ParaNorman To Open August 17, 2012" (Press release). LAIKA. May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  6. Roper, Caitlin (August 2012). "The Boy with 8,000 Faces". Wired.
  7. 1 2 "ParaNorman (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  8. "2012 Recap (cont.): Losers". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  9. 1 2 "Travis Knight (President & CEO of LAIKA) Talks PARANORMAN, Audience Reactions to the Film, Laika's Future Plans, and More at the VES Awards". Collider. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  10. Karger, Dave (July 18, 2012). "Comic-Con 2012: 15 Hot Movies - ParaNorman". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 5, 2014. Norman Babcock is an 11-year-old branded a freak because he can speak to the dead.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "ParaNorman". Yahoo!. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  12. 1 2 Rechtshaffen, Michael (August 2, 2012). "ParaNorman: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  13. "Jodelle Ferland". Focus Features. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Truitt, Brian (July 24, 2011). "'ParaNorman' brings together an outcast kid, zombies and John Hughes". USA Today. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  15. 1 2 Rogoway, Mike (August 11, 2012). "Laika thinks big with 'ParaNorman,' the second feature from Phil Knight's film studio". The Oregonian. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  16. Giegerich, Andy (July 13, 2012). "Laika chases big dreams". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  17. "Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR Cameras Help Capture the Summer Animated Feature "ParaNorman" in 3D". August 17, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  18. Brian Heater. "How 3D printing changed the face of 'ParaNorman'". Engadget. AOL.
  19. Ryzik, Melena (January 30, 2013). "Animation Basks in Oscar Spotlight". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  20. Taylor, Drew (July 24, 2012). "Soundtrack Details For Jon Brion's Score For Ghoulish Animated Film ParaNorman". The Playlist. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  21. "Paranorman Blu-ray and DVD". September 3, 2012.
  22. "ParaNorman". Metacritic. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  23. Chang, Justin (August 2, 2012). "ParaNorman". Variety. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  24. "Mexico Box Office, August 3–5, 2012". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  25. Subers, Ray (August 19, 2012). "Weekend Report: 'Expendables 2' Commandeers Top Spot, Misses Predecessor's Mark". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  26. ""ParaNorman" Screenwriter/Co-Director Chris Butler on Writing the First Gay Character in a Mainstream Animated Film -".
  27. French, nancy (August 22, 2012). "ParaNorman Has Gay Sub-Plot". National Review.
  28. Ryan, Mike (August 13, 2012). "'ParaNorman': The Movie You May Not Be Planning To See, Though You Should". The Huffington Post.
  29. "The Film Strip: ParaNorman Says You Can be Weird but Bullying is Not Ok.". Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  30. "'ParaNorman' Named First Ever PG-Rated Nominee for GLAAD Media Awards". January 16, 2013.
  31. "Annie Award Nominations Unveiled". Deadline. December 3, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  32. Beck, Jerry (February 2, 2013). "Annie Award Winners". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  33. Labrecque, Jeff (January 9, 2013). "'Lincoln' leads BAFTA race with 10 nominations". Deadline. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  34. Hammond, Pete (December 11, 2012). "'Lincoln', 'Les Miserables', 'Silver Linings' Top List Of Nominees For 18th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards". Deadline. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  35. "2012 Awards (16th Annual)". December 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  36. Kilday, Gregg (December 3, 2012). "Satellite Awards Nominates 10 Films for Best Motion Picture". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  37. Truitt, Brian (February 20, 2013). "'The Hobbit' leads Saturn Awards with nine nomination". USA Today.
  38. "Nominations for the 11th Annual VES Awards". January 7, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  39. "VES Awards: 'Life Of Pi' Wins 4 Including Feature, 'Brave', 'Game Of Thrones' Other Big Winners". Deadline. February 5, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
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