I would wager that Shrek the Third's performance over this May weekend will trigger any number of column inches about animation's place in the Hollywood firmament, how it's viable and robust, how lots of big money is bankrolling various animated pics:
Even if 2006 wasn't widely considered the best year ever for animated movies creatively, it certainly became a most animated one at the box office.
"Cars," the latest model from hitmakers Disney-Pixar, finished No. 3 domestically, making $244 million...
There were 13 animated movies in the top 100 in '06. A decade ago, Hollywood released only three or four animated features a year.
In Hollywood, nothing exceeds like excess, of course. So this year, counting three animated features that have already premiered ("Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters," "Happily N'Ever After" and "Meet the Robinsons"), viewers will get to pick from more than a dozen 'toons at the multiplex...
"More than a dozen." But if we were to pay attention to the MSM's genius theory of last year, that "too many CGI animated features" was killing the genre, how the hell did Happy Feet rake in so much money? Or Cars? Or now Shrek the Third? Here's a clue:
A small group of people created a film that a whole lot more people wanted to see.
It's always this way. The audience lurking out there in the dark doesn't care that there's a glut of animated films, or that pirate movies are poison at the box office (Cutthroat Island anyone?) or that space operas are from nowhere (which explains why, thirty-three years ago, most studios passed on the original Star Wars.)
To paraphrase William Goldman: nobody in the media or Hollywood knows what's going to set AMC's turnstiles to twirling, they can only guess. They do, however, have lots of pet theories that, over time, are invariably proven wrong. My bet is, the "glut of animation killing the market" meme will die off for awhile, since -- although it was always untrue -- it's now obviously untrue.
So to repeat yet again: When you make a picture millions of people want to go see, they will go and see it, ignoring all the smart theories and conventional wisdom about what they shouldn't be watching and why they shouldn't be watching it.