When I was a lad working what turned out to be my final six months at the Mouse House, I one day fell into conversation with an executive secretary in the studio commissary. She told me:
"You know these new execs over from Paramount? They're rich, but they are like really jealous of the Bass brothers*. Because all the execs have are millions, and what they really want are the Basses' billions."
Which encapsulate the Hollywood ethos perfectly.
There is never enough. There is always somebody farther up the food chain, with lots more money, to envy and hate ...
Happily, that jealousy thing is just now helping animation:
It looks like Hollywood has chipmunk envy.
The surprise success of 20th Century Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks" last Christmas has studios sifting through their vaults looking for classic characters to bring to life. ... projects in the works include:
* Warners is developing "Yogi Bear" with Donald De Line for Ash Brannon ("Surf's Up") to direct a digital Yogi and Boo Boo in a real life Yellowstone, er Jellystone.
* Imagi Entertainment and Warner Bros. are considering a new live-action version of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" after a feature-length toon in 2007 earned $95 million worldwide. The turtles and other characters would be CG, rather than men in suits, as seen in three previous pics during the 1990s.
* Sony Pictures Animation is looking to turn "The Smurfs" into its first hybrid pic.
* Nickelodeon Movies intends to feature Kidrobot's collectible Munny, Dunny and Labit figures, with the creatures running around live-action settings as CGI characters.
* Even Jerry Bruckheimer is getting in on the act with "G-Force," an actioner featuring a hamster and guinea pig as spies, that Disney will distrib next year.:
And of course there are new Yellow Family features from 20th Century Fox in the offing.
The point of all this is, Tinsel Town and it's avaricious execs are always on the hunt for Big Bucks (and I'm not talking about deers with antlers.) There's going to be a spate of animated theatrical projects over the next few years, but it's not because the humble, gentle folk laboring in those big corner ofices have some everlasting love for animation.
It's because animation makes money, and lots of it.
* The Bass brothers, well-known Texas billionaires, held a large chunk of Disney stock in the early eighties and were key players in bringing Messrs Eisner, Wells and Katzenberg into the House of Mouse.