Shaun the Sheep vs Kung Fu Panda: EU aims to help animated films take on US giants
... Europe’s mostly low-key animated film industry needs a helping hand in taking on US goliaths like Pixar and DreamWorks — and EU regulators say they are ready to join battle.
“We would like to concentrate on the European animation sector,” EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told journalists today on the sidelines of the world’s oldest film festival in Venice.
“We will launch a dialogue with the major European animation studios to identify specific challenges and opportunities and agree on a joint action plan by the middle of 2017,” the Digital Economy commissioner said.
While animation films are the audiovisual category with the largest European circulation, European animation films, such as Britain’s 2015 Shaun the Sheep Movie, struggle to compete with US productions.
Between 2010 and 2014, not one European production made it to the top 30 list of animation films in Europe by admission, overshadowed by hits such as Frozen (2013) and Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012).
US animated movies routinely become global blockbuster franchises, including the Kung Fu Panda, Toy Story and Shrek films, whereas in Europe they tend to be independent art-house productions. ...
Europe (including Britain) has gifted America with comedy (Charlie Chaplin), music (The Stones, Beatles) and loads of movie stars. But it's never clicked in the animation department.
It's hard to say why this is.
Part of the reason might be characters and subject matter; another reason could be format. Aardman makes terrific stop motion features, but global audiences aren't jazzed by stop motion, and box office results tell the tale. Kubo and the Two Strings has no traction, Shaun the Sheep underperformed; even Nightmare Before Christmas a well-loved title if ever there was one, was no great shakes. Nightmare earned a mere $75 million at the domestic box office back in 1993-94.
In the current era, MacGuff in Paris is the only continental studio turning out blockbuster animated features. But MacGuff is owned by California-based Illumination Entertainment, and so it's not truly "European", but a hybrid: part Yankee Doodle, part French.
It's not enough that Europe throw its government shakers and deep thinkers behind this new effort. The continent must create subject matter that the rest of the world wants to see.