Yesterday at DreamWorks, an animator who's trying to work his way into a supervisor's slot asked whether he was better off staying with the company or going someplace else for career advancement. Since I don't have a good idea in what esteem the company holds him (or what his specific prospects for a promotion are), I gave him my semi-generic answer:
"The studio might like you a lot and want to boost you up the ladder, but I think a lot depends on how they're doing at the box office. If Kung Fu Panda does well, and Madagascar II knocks it out of the park, then there will be lots of production being done around here and they'll probably consider you for a higher position. Animation is a market-driven industry. The product does great, and employees usually do fine making more of it.
While we're on the subject of the industry booming or not booming, there are a cluster of upcoming animated projects forPixar/Disney, DreamWorks, and Fox, none of them sequels and all of them creative departures. And Daily Variety speculates on how each will do at the box office (and is being promoted):
Fox's "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!," DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda" and Pixar's "Wall-E" signify major departures for their respective studios. As such, marketing efforts have been under way since last summer to message each film's unique qualities to audiences.
"Horton," which opens Friday, marks the first adaptation from Blue Sky Animation, the team behind the "Ice Age" franchise. Since kids aren't likely to make this connection, Fox is pushing the fact that this beloved Dr. Seuss story boasts two A-list comedians, Jim Carrey and Steve Carell ...
[As regards DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda] with Jack Black voicing the title role, laughs would come naturally, but not at the expense of the epic feel [the directors] were trying to create: In a version of ancient China where humans never existed, five critters invent kung fu's key styles according to their unique animal qualities ... "We asked ourselves the question, 'What if Akira Kurosawa shot a Jerry Lewis movie?'"
Pixar's nearly dialogue-free "Wall-E" (June 27), a trash-compacting droid left behind on an uninhabitable Earth falls for a newer model beamed down from space. In the robot romance that ensues, the characters communicate primarily in a language hatched by Oscar-winning sound designer Ben Burtt (the brains behind R2-D2)...
I don't think there's ever been a time when the health of the animation business didn't depend on animated television shows/features/commercials doing gangbuster business. The animation explosion in the early and mid-nineties was pretty much predicated on Disney's string of monster hits, the television renaissance occurred when prime time cartoon series and daytime animated blocks (Duck Tales, The Disney Afternoon) made buckets of money.
So, in your morning and evening prayers, express the fervent home that Horton, Panda and Wall*E set the box office turnstiles to spinning so fast that they burst into effing flames.