Saturday, March 25, 2006

Animated Features Released In March

You wouldn't think that March was the greatest time to launch a movie. The Wisdom of the Hollywood Suits dictates that November-December or June-July are the golden windows of opportunity, but take a gander at the animated flicks that have been unspooled during March's madness... Wizards (1977) -- directed by Ralph Bakshi, this modestly-budgeted feature made some coin. (I've put in box office figures where I've found them...) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) -- directed by Woolie Reitherman and John Louunsberry. A compilation of the earlier "Pooh" featurettes, with a few minutes of new animation. (Who would have guessed that A.A. Milne, who made a ton of money cranking out mystery novels, would today be remembered for his "Winnie the Pooh" books, and that most of his other tomes are forgotten?) Secret of the Sword (1985)-- A He-Man and She-ra epic -- directed by Ed Friedman and other Filmation regulars. Thumbelina (1994) -- Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. Animator and director Don Bluth is one of the most prolific creators of animated product outside of Disney. All Dogs Go To Heaven 2 (1996) -- directed by Larry Leker and Paul Sabella. The sequel to Don Bluth's late eighties feature. (Back then, Don was giving the Mouse House a run for its money...) Cats Don't Dance (1997) -- directed by Mark Dindall. Mr. Dindall's and Turner Feature Animation's first full-length toon. Mark has gone on to direct The Emperor's New Groove and Chicken Little. Turner, on the other hand, disappeared after Ted Turner sold out to Warner Bros. The King and I (1999) -- directed by Richard Rich. Rick RIch started as an assistant director at Disney Feature and went on to co-direct The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron before forming his own animation company. Doug's First Movie (1999)-- directed by Maurice Joyce. One of Disney Television Animation's theatrical releases, of which they've had several. They're usually modest box office performers, but platforming them at the neighborhood Bijou sets them up nicely for home video sales. The Road to El Dorado (2000) -- directed by Eric Bergeron and Don Paul. This hand-drawn production grossed $50 million at the box office. Two more hand-drawn films followed before Shrek reoriented the studio's direction. Ice Age (2002) -- directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha -- Fox's earlier, hand-drawn features met with, ahem, mixed success. But this Blue Sky Studios offering out of White Plains, New York hit a home-run, grossing $175,676,099 before trekking to video. Piglet's Big Movie (2003) directed by Francis Glebas. Decade by decade, the "Pooh" product keeps coming. This one took in $23,073,611 before going to DVD. Robots (2005) -- directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha. Blue Sky's follow up to Ice Age, and doing slightly less well at the turnstiles. About thirty-seven million dollars less well. And now comes Ice Age: The Meltdown this coming Friday, which will likely quickly become the biggest hit of the year so far (until the summer blockbuster season begins in May).


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