Sunday, April 02, 2006
It's ironic that the Sunday edition of DAILY VARIETY has a front page headline: "Studios fret that CGI toons are at a saturation point" on the day when Ice Age 2 is going to make Fox some heavy coin... VARIETY has a habit of wringing its hands about too much cgi feature animation in the market place. In November 2004, it ran an article about the boom times of cgi animation coming to an end, and all that's happened since is one CGI hit after another. The trades need something to write about, I guess, but it's always amusing when a 'think piece' comes out over too much animated product. When was the last time you say DAILY VARIETY worry over too many live action films? ("The audience is going to get fatigued over seeing all that real life-type stuff up on a sixty foot screen! It can't go on!") And of course, fingers are always pointed at the sagging results of hand-drawn features a decade ago, and comparisons are made to the current abundance of product. But I have a radical notion. Animated features didn't go into the tank in the late nineties because of a "glut." Animated features lost market share because there were fewer good ones being made. I mean, everyone knows the Disney features that were made at the start of the nineties: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King. But what were the Disney animated flicks that rolled out at the end? Got to think about it, don't you? But now, let's go back to the early nineties again. Tucked away among that Disney honor roll is another title. It's The Rescuers Down Under, and hardly anybody ever mentions it. Rescuers 2, you see, was the Disney mutant from the early nineties. It was the ONE animated feature -- in amongst Little Mermaid, Beauty and all those others, that didn't get the turnstiles spinning. And why didn't it? Because it...ahm...wasn't very good. Oh, it was beautifully animated, and Disney's brand new CAPs system was in bright display, but it was basically a retread of the first Rescuers, and not a very good retread at that. You see, at the end of the day, if your movie doesn't have a compelling story, you probably have an underperformer on your hands. I'm surprised VARIETY didn't start beating out a funeral dirge went Rescuers Down Under was released. Something along the lines of "End of the Road for Disney Animated Hits?" Would have made great copy. Problem is, it would have been just as misleading as the headline in today's paper. People will flock to all the animated features you can make, if you make them GOOD.
Posted by Steve Hulett at 9:54 AM