Sunday, June 17, 2012

Shortage

The six to eight-minute cartoon extravaganza appears to be back in style, but only somewhat.

Short films before the feature presentation are one of those things that fell out of fashion for a long time in Hollywood and, while they’re more popular now than they have been in years, they still aren’t common. Yet, three of this year’s major animated releases will have animated short films screening before them, starting with Disney/Pixar’s Brave, in theaters Friday. ...

Disney Animation announced that its hand-drawn/computer-generated hybrid animation Paperman will get a theatrical release as the opening act for Disney’s upcoming Wreck-It Ralph. And 20th Century Fox is bringing yet another Ice Age movie to the theaters this year and a new Simpsons short film will roll before that one.

Then there are the Looney Tunes pieces that have rolled into theaters on a regular basis.

Sadly, Disney, Pixar, and Blue Sky do short animated subjects infrequently, and Warner Bros. has disbanded their shorts department altogether. It's too bad, because people like these colorful bits of entertainment.

Studios are, it seems, reluctant to make cartoon shorts on anything like a regular basis. I get how on an actuarial basis, shorts don't return a lot of money to their respective conglomerates, but it would be nice if corporations would look beyond the immediate profit-and-loss figures because

1) Shorts provide a continuity of work for employees who might otherwise be laid off and move on to the competition.

2) They are added value for the features to which they're attached.

3) They provide valuable training for up-and coming board artists, directors, and writers.

4) They help keep well-loved franchises alive and viable between the ninety-minute tent poles.

5) They can be magnets for shiny gold statues that studios covet.

And so on and so forth.

A wise old staffer once said to me: "Studios should be developing shorts every chance they get. Because sooner or later they'll get their money back and it's a lot better than getting ride of talented people due to no work."

Seems obvious when you dwell on it. Maybe it's becoming obvious to the People Who Count. But I'm not betting the ranch on it.

3 comments:

Christopher Sobieniak said...

It is a shame Steve when they never listen! I would love to see shorts just regularly inserted into any feature film in the theaters and just simply being produced at a certain number per year just to be a norm again.

Floyd Norman said...

Studios like Disney can certainly afford to have a series of shorts in production. It's an ideal way to develop in house talent and it always pays off.

Finally, I don't want them crying the blues about costs when they've flushed millions down the toilet on film projects they've abandon.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I see your point there Floyd, it really would help up'n coming people that way.

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