Iron Man, the television version, will soon visit a home-viewing unit near you:
Marvel has commissioned Gallic animation concept and content creation company Method Animation to make 26 half-hour “Iron Man” shows. Marvel and Method are co-producing with U.K. animation production company Cinnamon Entertainment.
Series is currently in production and the first episode is due to be delivered in a month ...
Now, I'm not here to wring my hands and whine about how IM is being produced in Europe and Oh How Awful! What I want to focus on is that another t.v. animated CGI show is rolling down the pike, but there's still plenty of hand-drawn product ...
Like, what's interesting to me is how slow and tentative C.G.I.'s encroachment into the flat, cartoony world of animated television has actually been, when the growth of c.g. features has been rapid and downright overwhelming in the theatrical realm.
Consider: a decade ago, Sony produced the theatrical feature Starship Troopers,; shortly thereafter, Sony-Adelaide created a c.g. series of the same name, which was big-time expensive and didn't come anywhere near the success Sony Adelaide hoped for.
So Sony didn't produce it for long.
Then there was the prime time c.g.i series Father of the Pride five years back. Big things were expected for that, too, but it quickly went to DVD land and was never heard from ... on network television ... again.
The problem, as it was explained to me by studio wise men, is that c.g. was (is) hugely expensive and, on television at least, the fact that it's computer generated images prancing around on the small screen doesn't necessarily mean big ratings.
And ratings, girls and boys, is what the game is all about. Programmers and studio development execs aren't in the exercise for their general all-around jollies or health. Their eyes are always riveted on the big prize: M-O-N-E-Y. And when the hand-drawn Simpsons and Family Guy are doing big business in the home entertainment area, who needs c.g.i.?
It's only been in the last couple of years that c.g. series have finally gained traction. Nick is producing Tac. Disney TVA has Mickey's Clubhouse and My Friends Tigger and Pooh, with Inspector Oso waiting in the wings. There are other scattered examples, but you get the idea. Computer-generated cartoons have established a strong beachhead in television, but they're a long way from taking the whole country over.
(And Disney's direct-to-video feature franchise has only now sloughed off the traditional-looking sequels that made the company so much heavy coin and is making c.g.i. Tinkerbell films.)
The point is, c.g. animation has been far less robust in television because, unlike its theatrical cousin, the cost-benefit hasn't been apparent. Kids, by and large, are happier watching hand-drawn 'toons like Fairly Odd Parents and Sponge Bob Square Pants than they are Star-Ship Troopers. And unless and until the comgloms see a big benefit to creating computer-generated television product (like higher ratings or lower costs), hand-drawn product will continue to flourish on the home screen.
Addendum: It's pointed out in comments that there have been a boatload of c.g.i. television shows, and that some have been successful. Absolutely right. But the success hasn't reached critical mass (at least, not quite yet) the way it has on the feature side.