Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Voice Actors

So DreamWorks Animation hired some high-profile voice actors, and the L.A. Biz Journal seems astounded that DWA stock didn't shoot up.

Not even the celebrity lineup could help company stock on a day when new worries on the economy overshadowed the markets. Shares of Glendale-based DreamWorks (NYSE: DWA) closed down 0.95, 3.04 percent, to $30.30. ...

Here's the thing about big-name, celebrity voices: Sometimes they work out wonderfully well, and they are often useful in promoting a high profile animated feature.

But are they necessary? Do they add to the bottom line?

Only marginally.

Ed Asner was a fine choice for Up, but face it. Pixar didn't choose him because he's tabloid catnip or a marquee name like Mr. Pitt. They chose him because he was right for the role. (And Disney seems to be doing okay in the big grosses department as regards Up.)

I'm not saying using mega stars is necessarily a bad way to go, but Ms. Jolie's Main Squeeze didn't provide a lot of added value the last time he performed a voice role for DreamWorks Animation. This time, I'm sure, will be different.


Anonymous said...

Will Ferrell might be an ok voice, but I'd rather watch him. But Pitt and Jolie have gone out of their way to prove, like Mike Myers, that they're LOUSY voice actors. And Jerry Seinfeld. I understand why DW wants to use big named actors, but even that rarely pans out. It might get a little more publicity, but they're usually very offputting when being interviewed about cartoons, and it never does much for the box office. Kung Fu Panda would have been fine without any big named voice actors (even if the onlly big name they had was Dustin Hoffman, who was better than I'd expected as a voice actor).

Jeffery likes to star-f*ck. End of story.

The not-so-odd part of this story is the "writer" of this article is so LAZY. But the L.A. Times has taken care of this problem by not listing the lazy author of the article's name.

And WHAT is with that UGLY artwork? I think management at dw ought to listen to the artists before putting crap like that out there. I seriously doubt those are the final designs. Let's hope so.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, Mike Myers is a great voice actor. He added so much to the character of Shrek. I can't imagine anyone else doing the role. And Jack Black was great as the Panda. I will admit that Jolie was blah as the Tigress though. Seth Rogen was also unimpressive. I do think that famous actors doing cartoon voices has been overdone. I don't go to a cartoon to hear Jim Carry impersonate an elephant. I go to see a good cartoon, and some actors add to that experience and some don't.

Anonymous said...

Myers can't even do a Scottish accent well, much less act with one. Horrible. At least Eddie Murphy used his OWN voice and was pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Myers can't even do a Scottish accent well, much less act with one..

That's part of the charm. It's part of the reason it works. It's part of the reason the franchise has made a billion dollars. Perhaps this could be a learning moment for you.

Anonymous said...

...but it DOESN'T work, and has zero to do with it making money. What an idiotic notion. Why else would they have contemplated replacing him?

Anonymous said...

It was certainly a "learning moment" for all of us grunts when voice actors began getting a large piece of the profits for their brief time in front of the mike, which began cutting into the budgets of these mega million dollar pictures.

Anonymous said...

"Why else would they have contemplated replacing him?"

For several reasons which had nothing to do with the public at all.

Anout Myers' casting in "Shrek": it DID work. He gave a charming performance imo. Millions agree. If you hate the films you're obviously not going to agree with that so there's no point in arguing.

But there's subjective("love it"/ "hate it ") and then there's concrete(boxoffice success).

Whether or not Mike Myers was a big or small or crucial or inconsequential reason for Shrek's success, it's not very often that any studio with any super successful franchise changes key actors, even of voices.

Get it?

As for any recasting, before you leap all over the place second-guessing changes to any film's voice lineup just remember there are always a lot of issues in play that the general public knows nothing about.
If it's not all about the name value then it doesn't matter anyway, right?

BTW it's funny no one's ranted about the casting of the dubbed "Ponyo" with Miley Cyrus' kid sister and, yes, Tina Fey...and a Jonas brother or two thrown in there. Totally artistic decisions I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Now this has gone too far! Are you suggesting that Lasseter and Disney are NOT above casting names just for the marquee value and that Kid sister Cyrus and Little Jonas didn't try out and were FAR superior to any other voice they could have cast!!!...Next you'll tell me they cast Tom Hanks in Toy Story after he was a big star and not before!! Imagine!!?!

Anonymous said...

Even when Pixar doesn't cast a really big name (the few times) thyey publicise him as if he were...was there a talk show Patton Oswalt wasn't on telling the same story for the hundredth time...? The way they pushed him you'd think that he was Tom hanks....

Anonymous said...

No, Meyers did NOT work. He actually sucks royally as a voice. And as an actor. He's a skit guy, and sometimes good at it. But not much more. Shrek was funny enough at times (although ugly to look at), but WELL past it's prime.

Anonymous said...

"Next you'll tell me they cast Tom Hanks in Toy Story after he was a big star and not before!! Imagine!!?!"

Well, Hanks was cast in Toy Story before he was a big star. He was a working actor, but Tim Allen was a much bigger star (and second choice). But no one thinks of Allen as an actor--he's more a tv schtick-com star.

After Tom Hanks was first signed, Sleepless in Seatle, Philedelphia, Forrest Gump, and Apollo 13 came out. Then Toy Story. Talk about great timing!
There's nothing wrong with big names so long as t hey have great acting VOICES.

Anonymous said...

We go through this everytime some Pixioe wants to prove that Pixar didn't sign Hanks because of his star value. Hanks had appeared and STARRED in over a dozen movies before Pixar signed him (even assuming his biggest hits came after they signed him) He was still considered BIG...get it Big....that wasn't a star making film was it?
It amazes me how the same people accuse DW of casting by name value only and yet Pixar gets a walk on that....because they're 'good' voices not 'bad' voices. Keep in mind DW removed Jim Carey from a film because his voice wasn't working - same thing for Russel Crowe...they also insist their voices are 'good' whether they come from names or not. In fact it was DW that started heavily using story artists for many incidental voices (that became stars in their own right) in Shrek....

Let's be consitent...if DW is 'bad' for using stars then so is Pixar...

Anonymous said...

Watching Miyazaki in it's native tongue with the subtitles on is just better than watching with the English dubbing.

Language, like art, is a key carrier of culture. Unfortunately for America, our language has been usurped from us by a parade of conglomerate celebrity media whores desperate for camera time - morons who have pillaged language and art to the point where the only American entertainment worth experiencing is silent film.

What was once an original culture and language has been re-sampled, re-synced, re-packaged, re-marketed, and regurgitated so many times that there is really nothing left of the original. The original work has been absolutely cannibalized.

One cannot conjure up a single original piece of art or writing, especially in Hollywood, without a f'ing jingle or soundtrack or commercial or Simpson's reference rising up from your brain, as if your neurons can't help but vomit up the sampled version all over the original as soon as the original comes to mind.

Concepts, stories, and scripts have become so dependent upon references to this artificially sampled and re-sampled, hashed and re-hashed stagnant lowest-common denominator life, a life that 99.9999 percent of the planet has no way to relate to as they descend further and further into abject and utter poverty, that it's no wonder that it takes puppets, explosions and fart jokes to rake in international box office numbers. We make shitty hamburgers that are really bad for you and have the shelf life of a bad spout of indigestion.

Like our culture.

And anyone who thinks Tom Hanks wasn't a big star before Toy Story - that his NAME, the millisecond that it was thrown onto the table as an option, didn't immediately quadruple the anti and affect the immediate and instantaneous perception of who the character was - has themselves been stranded on a desert island for the last thirty years.

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