Sunday, May 20, 2007

What? No Whining About the "Animation Glut"?

I would wager that Shrek the Third's performance over this May weekend will trigger any number of column inches about animation's place in the Hollywood firmament, how it's viable and robust, how lots of big money is bankrolling various animated pics:

Even if 2006 wasn't widely considered the best year ever for animated movies creatively, it certainly became a most animated one at the box office.

"Cars," the latest model from hitmakers Disney-Pixar, finished No. 3 domestically, making $244 million...

There were 13 animated movies in the top 100 in '06. A decade ago, Hollywood released only three or four animated features a year.

In Hollywood, nothing exceeds like excess, of course. So this year, counting three animated features that have already premiered ("Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters," "Happily N'Ever After" and "Meet the Robinsons"), viewers will get to pick from more than a dozen 'toons at the multiplex...

"More than a dozen." But if we were to pay attention to the MSM's genius theory of last year, that "too many CGI animated features" was killing the genre, how the hell did Happy Feet rake in so much money? Or Cars? Or now Shrek the Third? Here's a clue:

A small group of people created a film that a whole lot more people wanted to see.

It's always this way. The audience lurking out there in the dark doesn't care that there's a glut of animated films, or that pirate movies are poison at the box office (Cutthroat Island anyone?) or that space operas are from nowhere (which explains why, thirty-three years ago, most studios passed on the original Star Wars.)

To paraphrase William Goldman: nobody in the media or Hollywood knows what's going to set AMC's turnstiles to twirling, they can only guess. They do, however, have lots of pet theories that, over time, are invariably proven wrong. My bet is, the "glut of animation killing the market" meme will die off for awhile, since -- although it was always untrue -- it's now obviously untrue.

So to repeat yet again: When you make a picture millions of people want to go see, they will go and see it, ignoring all the smart theories and conventional wisdom about what they shouldn't be watching and why they shouldn't be watching it.


Anonymous said...

i think Shrek III is riding on the success of it's last 2 films. If it was not a sequel to anything and a standalone film, it wouldn't do as much in the box office. just me opinon thou

Anonymous said...

I think there was a glut of live action movies last year.

Anonymous said...

i think there's been a glut of bad movies... live action, animated, combos of the two... good filmmaking is simply a dying artform.

no one knows how to tell a story any more and hollywood is too ego-driven and bloated to address the problem effectively.

Anonymous said...


They're ego-driven and bloated all the way to the bank.

Anonymous said...

"no one knows how to tell a story any more and hollywood is too ego-driven and bloated to address the problem effectively."

Whats your brilliant idea for a great story or film. Mr. Lucas? Its easy to throw idiot remarks like with no understanding for the the process.

Anonymous said...

there's lots of great new ideas out there... but studio execs would rather make endless sequels, prequels and remakes.

Anonymous said...

"They're ego-driven and bloated all the way to the bank."

Um... except that movie attendance is going steadily downward.
Sure, you've got exceptions for franchises like 'Shrek' but for the most part Hollywood studios are still in a panic about how to get people into theaters again.

Anonymous said...

"Um... except that movie attendance is going steadily downward."

Not really.

Check page 7 and page 22 of this pdf:

I see ups and downs, but I can't spot much of a trend. You know, some years there's more movies to see.

But as a percentage of the population, more Americans went to the movies last year than in all of the 1980's and the same as the first half of the 1990's.

The reports of the death of the movie theater have been greatly exaggerated.

Anonymous said...

I should say "...more Americans went to the movies last year than in any year of the 1980's..."

Anonymous said...

I hope the mouse house will have a CG hit one of these days.

I am looking forward to the Frog movie. wait...thats not CG.

Anonymous said...

Saw Shrek with our 9 year old and he LOVED it. I enjoyed it too. Suspect jeffrey must have had lots of fun tweaking all the Disney-like characters and letting them do things that would NEVER happen in their Disney movies (think Cinderella or the hilarious Beauty). Say what you will, it entertained our almost sold out audience (Saturday matinee) very well.

Anonymous said...

Was interesting to see the date crowd packing in the theaters to see more Ogre & co.
My kids loved the film . One was reluctant to go (teen!) as this is a bit "uncool" , but he was laughing off his chair during much of the film.
Personally I thought Part Two was more original and had better animation.

Shrek 4 anyone ?

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