Friday, July 22, 2016

"Giant" Documentary

Brad Bird introduces The Giant's Dream: The Making of the Iron Giant.

... The documentary spends a good deal of time examining how “The Iron Giant” succeeded in making a moving, human story about a robot and a small boy contemplating the meaning of life. Citing “the best test scores” Warner Bros. had seen since the mid-’80s and widespread support from critics, “The Giant’s Dream” successfully balances the good and bad of the film; and deftly explains how a film quickly seen as a flop could develop into a relevant tale for modern audiences, especially in light of recent gun-related tragedies.

Insights abound throughout the feature-length documentary — soon to be available on a new Blu-ray edition of “The Iron Giant” — and it’s notable the feature includes no talking heads. Voiceover accompanies original animation, behind-the-scenes footage and a few interviews conducted during the film’s original release. ...

I remember when Warner Bros. Feature Animation started making Iron Giant. The division was in trouble. It had released Space Jam (a hit) and Quest For Camelot (decidedly not a hit) and there had been management changes. The company did not give Iron Giant a large budget, but a dedicated crew turned out a superior movie.

The downside was, Giant didn't perform at the box office. A lot of the animation community was not happy about this, and there was anger at Warner Bros for botching the release, but maybe the feature was out of synch for its time. Audiences were flocking to CG animated features and ignoring CG's older, hand-drawn cousins. (It didn't help that many of the 2-D features released at the end of the nineties were not as strong as the specimens from the front of the decade.)

So let's conjecture idly.

If The Iron Giant had been made as a CG feature in 1999, with the same designers, actors, and story beats, how would have it performed? More than likely very well.


Grant said...

Terrific documentary. Probably the best about the making of an animated film ever. Wow--I'd heard what a disaster Warner Brothers animation was, with bad management at the top, and inexperienced, backstabbing producers and directors. And that colossally bad flop film quest for camelot.

It truly is a miracle Brad Bird made that film happen.

Steve Hulett said...

Back in the late nineties, Warners was awful at marketing animated features.

Cynical (and bitter?) animation artists at the time said: "Want to end the scourge of AIDS? Have Warner Bros. distribute it."

Grant said...

Apparently, according to those who worked on the film I spoke with after the screening, the bigger problems were closer to home with those running the animation division-- max howard, frank gladstone, frederick dachau, Amy pell. These, among others, seem to be the names brought up repeatedly that made that studio less than it should have been and were more hindrance than help. So sad, really. At least we got one good film out of their failures. And thank goodness none of them had anything to do with the making of Iron Giant.

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