Monday, June 25, 2012

Knock-Offs

I started to notice this activity two decades ago:

Last year's "Puss in Boots"was made on the lush 13-acre DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale by 300 people working for four years at a cost of $130 million.

Its knockoff was made on the second floor of an office building just two miles away— by 12 people, in six months, for less than $1 million.

The DreamWorks version, which starred the voices of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, was a box-office smash.

The other, produced by tiny Renegade Animation, went direct to DVD. ...

LA Times writer Ben Fritz called me about the story above and asked if there was outrage and anger in the animation community over the knock-offs. I told him I've heard remarkably little talk about it, one way or the other. (Wasn't the quote he was looking for, and I don't blame him for cutting the phone call short.)

I first noticed this kind of "imitation" activity back during the hey-day of Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Lion King. But God knows, it's been going on for the better part of a century. Low-rent producers were doing low-budget imitations of Douglas Fairbanks's Robin Hood and Thief of Baghdad back in the silent days.

The watch words then were: "Anything for a smooth buck." Nothing has changed.

2 comments:

Erika Isabel Vega said...

Yeah, I remember the knock-offs from the 90s. My mother fell for it and accidentally bought us a VHS of Pocahontas and we told her it was actually still in theaters. It wasn't until a saw a knock-off "Frog Prince" that I realized they were still making these. I didn't react with outrage, because it was nothing new. I was more surprised that they were still getting away with it. The quality is vastly inferior and it's hard to believe there is really actually a market for this. I guess they keep preying on innocent moms like mine who didn't know better.

Bob Harper said...

Are there any numbers to see how much these things make.

The funny irony is that these knock offs are of many "knock-offs" from the original source material.

I've heard discussions amongst our youth who believe that Dreamworks actually created Puss and Boots, the character, and Disney created Rapunzel.

I'm all for them - I want to see the knock off for Mars Needs Moms...

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