The film was released widely in United States theaters on February 6, 2009, after a world premiere at the Portland International Film Festival, and received critical acclaim. The film made $16.85 million during opening weekend, ranking third at the box office. At the end of its box office run, the film had grossed over $124.5 million worldwide. Coraline won Annie Awards for best music, character design, production design and received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Animated Feature.
Coraline Jones and her parents, who are busy editors of a gardening catalogue, move from Pontiac, Michigan to Ashland, Oregon, where they stay at the dilapidated Pink Palace Apartments. Her new yet eccentric neighbors include Mr. Bobinsky, Miss Spink, and Miss Forcible, as well as Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, the grandson of the landlady, whose twin sister mysteriously disappeared years ago. Coraline also meets a black cat.
One day, Wybie gives her a button-eyed ragdoll which eerily resembles Coraline. The doll then lures her to a small door in the living room, which is bricked up and can only be unlocked by a button key. That night, a rat guides her through the door, where the bricks have been replaced by a corridor to the Other World, an idealised parallel dimension of Coraline's life, inhabited by button-eyed doppelgängers of people from her real world. Coraline meets the Other Mother and the Other Father, who are noticeably warmer and more attentive than her real parents.
After dinner, she goes to sleep in her Other Bedroom but awakes in her real bedroom. Despite cryptic warnings from her neighbours, Coraline visits the Other World three times, where she meets the Other Mr. Bobinsky, the Other Miss Spink and Forcible, and the Other Wybie, who is mute. The cat also visits the Other World and is somehow able to speak.
On the third visit, the Other Mother invites Coraline to stay forever, under the condition that a pair of buttons will be sewn over her eyes. Horrified, Coraline refuses the offer and attempts to flee. However, she discovers that all the exits to the real world have been blocked by the Other Mother. The cat appears and reveals her the sinister truth about the Other World and the Other Mother. Coraline demands the Other Mother to let her return home but the Other Mother suddenly grows taller and more grotesque and imprisons her behind a mirror. There, Coraline meets the ghosts of her previous victims, including the long-lost twin sister of Wybie's grandmother. The ghosts reveal that the Other Mother, whom they refer to as the Beldam, created and sent button-eyed ragdolls that resembled them in order to spy on their lives. She eventually lured them into the Other World, under the promise of a better life, where she sewed buttons over their eyes and consumed their lives. To free their souls, their real eyes, hidden in special objects, need to be retrieved. Coraline promises to return their eyes.
Coraline is suddenly rescued from the mirror by the Other Wybie, whose mouth has been horribly stitched by the Beldam. He helps her escape into the real world in time but Coraline discovers that her parents are missing. She eventually deduces that they have been kidnapped by the Beldam. The cat advises Coraline to negotiate with the Beldam by proposing a "game": if Coraline cannot find her parents and the ghosts' eyes, she will allow her to sew buttons over her eyes, but if she can, they will all be set free. The Beldam reluctantly agrees and vanishes.
One by one, Coraline retrieves the ghosts' eyes across the Other World, now a nightmarish dimension, from its deranged inhabitants. As she does, the surroundings around the Other Pink Palace Apartments gradually disintegrates until only the living room is left. Inside, Coraline meets the Beldam in her true arachnoid form. Knowing that the Beldam will never accept her victory, she tricks her into unlocking the door. Whilst the Beldam is distracted in unlocking the door, Coraline finds her parents trapped in a snow globe, takes it, and throws the cat at the Beldam's face, who promptly rips her buttons eyes out.
After an intense confrontation, Coraline quickly escapes into the corridor and slams and locks the door shut onto the Beldam's hand, severing it. Her parents return to the real world, who appear to have no memory of what just happened. That night, the ghosts, who passed onto the afterlife with their real eyes, warn her to get rid of the button key to prevent the Beldam from accessing the real world. As Coraline prepares to drop it down the well, the Beldam's severed hand violently ambushes her and tries to drag her back to the Other World. Wybie saves Coraline by crushing the hand with a rock, throwing its remains and the key into the well and sealing it shut.
The next day, Coraline and her parents, who finally finished their gardening catalog, host a garden party with the neighbours. Coraline also prepares to tell Mrs. Lovat the truth about her twin sister. The film ends when cat mysteriously disappears behind the apartment's sign.Dakota Fanning as Coraline Jones, a curious 11-year-old girl with dark blue hair.
Teri Hatcher as Mel Jones, Coraline's mother and the Beldam/Other Mother, ruler of the Other World.
Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French as April Spink and Miriam Forcible respectively, a pair of retired burlesque actresses.
John Hodgman as Charlie Jones, Coraline's father and the Other Father.
John Linnell as Other Father's singing voice.
Ian McShane as Sergei Alexander Bobinsky, a former Chernobyl liquidator and one of Coraline's neighbors who owns a jumping mice circus. Coraline nicknames him "Mr B." .
Keith David as the Cat, a sarcastic, mysterious, nameless black cat from Coraline's world who appears and disappears at will and has the ability to speak in the Other World.
Robert Bailey Jr. as Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, the geeky, nervous 11-year-old grandson of Coraline's landlady. Wybie is a character introduced for the film adaptation so that the viewer "wouldn't have a girl walking around, occasionally talking to herself".
Caroline Crawford as Mrs. Lovat, Wybie's grandmother and the owner of the Pink Palace Apartments.
Director Henry Selick met author Neil Gaiman just as he was finishing the novel Coraline, and given that Gaiman was a fan of Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas, he invited him to a possible adaptation of the film. As Selick thought a direct adaptation would lead to "maybe a 47-minute movie", his screenplay had some expansions, such as the creation of Wybie. When looking for a design away from the style seen in most animation, Selick discovered the work of Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi and invited him to become the concept artist. One of Uesugi's biggest influences was on the color palette, which was muted in reality and more colorful in the Other World. Uesugi declared that "at the beginning, it was supposed to be a small project over a few weeks to simply create characters; however, I ended up working on the project for over a year, eventually designing sets and backgrounds, on top of drawing the basic images for the story to be built upon."
Coraline was staged in a 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) warehouse in Hillsboro, Oregon. The stage was divided into 50 lots, which played host to nearly 150 sets. Among the sets were three miniature Victorian mansions, a 42-foot (12.8 m) apple orchard, and a model of Ashland, Oregon, including tiny details such as banners for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. More than 28 animators worked at a time on rehearsing or shooting scenes, producing 90–100 seconds of finished animation each week. To add the stereoscopy for the 3D release, the animators shot each frame from two slightly apart camera positions.
Every object on screen was made for the film. The crew used three 3D printing systems from Objet in the development and production of the film. Thousands of high-quality 3D models, ranging from facial expressions to doorknobs, were printed in 3D using the Polyjet matrix systems, which enable the fast transformation of CAD (computer-aided design) drawings into high-quality 3D models. The puppets had separate parts for the upper and lower parts of the head that could be exchanged for different facial expressions. The characters of Coraline could potentially exhibit over 208,000 facial expressions. Computer artists composited separatedly-shot elements together, or added elements of their own which had to look handcrafted instead of computer-generated – for instance, the flames were done with traditional animation and painted digitally, and the fog was dry ice.
At its peak, the film involved the efforts of 450 people, including from 30 to 35 animators and digital designers in the Digital Design Group (DDG) directed by Dan Casey and more than 250 technicians and designers. One crew member, Althea Crome, was hired specifically to knit miniature sweaters and other clothing for the puppet characters, sometimes using knitting needles as thin as human hair. The clothes would also simulate wear using paint and a file. Several students from The Art Institute of Portland were also involved in making the film.
The soundtrack for Coraline features songs composed by French composer Bruno Coulais with one, "Other Father Song", by They Might Be Giants. The Other Father's singing voice is provided by John Linnell, one of the singers from the band. They wrote 10 songs for the film; when a melancholy tone was decided, all but one were cut. Coulais' score was performed by the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra and features choral pieces sung by the Children's Choir of Nice in a nonsense language. Selick mentions that the main soloist, "a young girl you hear singing in several parts of the film" is coincidentally named Coraline. Coraline won Coulais the 2009 Annie Award for best score for an animated feature."Sirens of the Sea" – Performed by Michele Mariana
"Other Father Song" – Written and Performed by John Linnell
"Nellie Jean" – Performed by Kent Melton
"Dreaming" – Performed by Bruno Coulais, The Children's Choir of Nice, and Teri Hatcher
The film was released in the United States on DVD and Blu-ray on July 21, 2009, by Universal Studios Home Entertainment. A 3-D version comes with four sets of 3-D glasses—specifically the green-magenta anaglyph image. Coraline was released in the United Kingdom on DVD and Blu-ray on October 12, 2009. A 3-D version of the film was also released on a 2-Disc Collector's Edition. The DVD opened to first week sales of 1,036,845 and over $19 million in revenue. Total sales stand at over 2.6 million units and over $45 million in revenue. A two-disc Blu-ray 3D set which includes a stereoscopic 3D on the first disc and an anaglyph 3D image was released in 2011.
The website for Coraline involves an interactive exploration game where the player can scroll through Coraline's world. It won the 2009 Webby Award for "Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphics," both by the people and the Webby organization. It was also nominated for the Webby "Movie and Film" category. On June 16, 2008, D3 Publisher announced the release of a video game based on the film. It was developed by Papaya Studio for the Wii and PlayStation 2 and by Art Co. for Nintendo DS. It was released on January 27, 2009, close to the film's theatrical release. The soundtrack was released digitally February 3, 2009, by E1 Music, and in stores on February 24, 2009.
According to Paul Dergarabedian, a film business analyst with Media by Numbers, for the film to succeed it needed a box office comparable to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which grossed $16 million its opening weekend and ended up making more than $192 million worldwide; prior to the film's release, Dergarabedian thought Laika "should be really pleased" if it made close to $10 million on its opening weekend. In its US opening weekend, the film made $16.85 million, ranking third at the box office. It made $15 million on its second weekend, bringing its U.S. total up to $35.6 million, $25.5 million of which coming from 3D presentations. As of November 2009, the film had grossed $75,286,229 in the United States and Canada and $49,310,169 in other territories, making a total of $124,596,398 worldwide.
Coraline received critical acclaim. As of March 2016, the film has a 90% "Certified Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and an 80 out of 100 at Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews". David Edelstein said the film is "a bona fide fairy tale" that needed a "touch less entrancement and a touch more ... story". A. O. Scott of The New York Times called the film "exquisitely realized" with a "slower pace and a more contemplative tone than the novel. It is certainly exciting, but rather than race through ever noisier set pieces toward a hectic climax in the manner of so much animation aimed at kids, Coraline lingers in an atmosphere that is creepy, wonderfully strange and full of feeling."