The last few months, various conglomerates and law firms have phoned in to ask about contracts for new animated shows. (Had one today, in fact.)
Funny how companies have figured out that animation is cost effective and, as an added bonus, has a dandy commercial shelf life. And that adults like it too. The media is apparently picking up on the trend:
HBO launches The Ricky Gervais Show and the second season of The Life & Times of Tim on Friday (9 and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT), and FX recently introduced Archer (tonight, 10 ET/PT). They join Comedy Central's South Park, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block and Fox's Sunday lineup with offerings aimed more at grown-ups. ...
Casey Bloys, who oversees comedy at HBO, says the pay-cable network isn't specifically trying to launch animation. "What we're looking for are interesting shows. (The creators') point of view was the most important thing." ...
On the business side, animation is easy to dub for international audiences and it performs well in DVD sales, says Modi Wiczyk of Media Rights Capital, which produces Tim and Gervais. Quality animation can now be made "at a basic-cable price," too, Landgraf says.
The animation field is growing, Wiczyk says. "Twenty to 30 years ago, there wasn't a huge bench of people who wanted to make animated comedies. Now, this genre is attracting such bright talent."...
Thirty years ago, there weren't a jillion cable networks. We had three big broadcast companies, and we had low-rent syndicated shows appearing on the independent teevee channels sprinkled across the air waves. That, boys and girls, was pretty much it. Now, however, there's a lot more time to fill, and it can't all be talk and reality shows.
So animation is getting a close look by the multi-nationals because it travels well and makes money. And on our end, we're getting inquiries from various entities about new contracts. But we're telling the smart operators who ask about covering "just the writers" some sad news:
"Sorry, TAG isn't serving as a prophylactic against the Writers Guild of America (west). You want to cover your six writers to the exclusion of directors, storyboard artists, designers and animators, you can't do it with a contract from the Animation Guild, because we won't sign that kind of a deal."
It's pretty much all or nothing, the way we see it. In the next few weeks, we hope to have some newer studios signed to contracts, but the congloms' latest subsidiaries and subcontractors are going to have to decide if they want to cover the whole animated enchilada. Because covering a small slice of it just isn't going to work.