... When a live-action movie becomes a big hit, it’s not long before imitators—both real and imagined—show up on the horizon. Doing the same in the animation world isn’t quite so simple.
“A lot of people who aren’t in the industry don’t realize how long it takes to get an animated film made,” says David A. Price, author of The Pixar Touch. “The development process is quite long, and then production itself takes a couple of years. An animator turns out about three seconds of finished animation a week.” ...
A veteran cartoon exec (now retired, the man I call "The Wise Old Cartoon Producer," told me over lunch:
"When I was working on features for the conglomerates, a lot of movie executives had trouble wrapping their heads around the long development times needed for animated features.
"They were used to developing a script, hiring a director, then getting a cast and crew together and shooting a picture. The idea that they would have to spend years of development time on an animated project, dump millions into a strange pipeline, put a lot of them off.
"But it's the way animated features get made. There has to be a big commitment in time and money, and lots of movie executives didn't want to deal with that. ...
Except now, with huge grosses bubbling up from Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Monster University,, and now The Lego Movie, previous reluctance to plunge into animated projects has withered away. There's too much money on the table to not be a player.