Sunday, September 04, 2016

Europe's Weakling Features

The continent's movers and shakers are concerned:

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.


Johannes Wolters said...

Kubo and the two Strings has not been released in Germany and other parts of Europe yet and it is done by LAIKA, which is based inthe US (former Will Vinton studio)
Same with Nightmare before Christmas.

Leading Animation Studios in Europe:

Saloon Cartoon, Ireland (Song of the Sea, Brendan and the Secret of Kells)
Folimage, France (Phantom Boy)
Les Armateurs,France (Triplettes of Belleville)

Leading European VFX Studios: MPC, Scanline, Trixter, Double Negative,Pixomondo, Framestore, Luxx, Mackevision, Rise FX, (to name just a few...)

Most recently: The Little Prince (Director: Marc Osborne)produced by french companies:
Kaibou Productions
M6 Films
On Animation Studios
Onyx Films
Orange Studio

Schools: Gobelins, Paris // Filmakademie, Stuttgart and many many others

So we have the talent, the companies, the schools!
European Animation suffers from:
Lacking support by television producers, funding, preschool attitude towards animation (subgenre of children-movies)bad screenwriting because of funding and budget problems, franchise based movie and tv-plots, not enough support from distributors, media, audience (word of mouth). It is just for small children...
Especially in Germany we already achieved in reality what Mel Brooks has showed us 1968 in THE PRODUCERS. Here no company is going out of business because it produced a flop or even a string of flops, here a company goes out of business because of lacking political support and not being connected enough into the cultural and economical funding process. Of course we do not have an animation/vfx labor union. I am working to build up a website where you can at least see who is doing what in germany in terms of animation and vfx, we do not have even that. So if you graduate at a german animation school and you do want to do animation in a german movie, you have to leave the country and go to Australia (Maya the Bee) or to Taiwan (Molly Monster the Movie)to work as an animator on a so-called german animated movie. There are many, many problems and we are not discussing them here openly. And be sure, the companies are not very fond of each other because the funding system makes them naturally born enemies. So things will probably not stay the same. Talented Artists are leaving immidiately for USA, Canada or London to work for the big movies) Its a difficult situation. If you have any suggestiosn or arguments, please let me hear them. What can I do?

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