Monday, November 02, 2009

Hand Drawn

Walt Disney Animation is going to be doing more hand-drawn features regardless of how The Princess and the Frog turns out.

...[I]t was two of the biggest names in computer animation—Pixar cofounders John Lasseter and Ed Catmull ... who were behind the decision to return to the hand-drawn technique, and to rehire filmmakers who use it.

"We in no way wanted to be thought of as advocates" of computer graphics only, Mr. Catmull said. "We wanted to make great films; great films are independent of technology." ...

This isn't about "hand drawn" versus "computer graphics."

It's about making movies that an audience wants to see. (Duh.) The reason that studio managers have glommed on to c.g.i. as the magic bullet is that they look around and see pictures like Up or Ice Age 3 or even Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs picking up a goodly amount of coin and think:

"Ah, that computer generated stuff! That's the ticket!"

Forgetting, of course, that The Simpsons Movie made a great deal of money while Surf's Up and Astro Boy didn't.

Lasseter might be stating the obvious when he says movie-goers want to see good films and not bad films, but movie companies are looking for winners. And in the congloms' minds, c.g. animated features are proven crowd pleasers, while hand-drawn features are not.


Anonymous said...

**Forgetting, of course, that The Simpsons Movie made a great deal of money while Surf's Up and Astro Boy didn't.**

Well, Astro Boy should have.

Yeah, the Simpsons did just fine, and I loved that film. So do audiences have the same prejudice against 2D as movie studios appear to have? We'll find out with Princess and the Frog, I, I'd be more interested in Frog if it didn't look so much like the direct-to-DVD sequels the Mouse spewed out during the Eisner era. Bland character designs too. But perhaps the real issue is this: I have a bad feeling that Frog is going to be seen as strictly a kiddie film, and we all know what such a perception did to Astro Boy...

Anonymous said...

Good call, Anon #1.

And I also fear the decision for the follow-up film to be another Pooh feature. It's going to be hard to get the main-stream public to understand that there's that much of a difference between "The Tigger Movie" and any new old-school Pooh stuff.

They need to do something that reads Disney but is something different than the style that we've been bombarded with for the past 20 or so years.

Anonymous said...

Cannot wait to see Frog, hope it is a smash hit for animation. I would think all it has to do is gather more than Disney's last few CG films that were in the 120M domestic range, to be considered a hit. There really has not been much since Lilo hit some nice numbers.

Anonymous said...

I've talked to people outside of animation and the vibe I get from them people aren't great abput Frog Princess. They see 2D as a kid's film, like a cartoon. No one seems to be tenting out for this film.

Anonymous said...

Astroboy and Surf's Up were flops because they just weren't very good movies. There wasn't much for an audience to connect to. NO ONE CARES about the "look" of a film or it's [so-called] "pedigree." What they do care about is an entertaining film. What both Surf's Up and Astroboy had that a great flop like Iron Giant did not is money behind the marketing.

Beavis and Butthead Do America made $63 million in it's domestic theatrical run on a $12 million budget. Not sure of the international, but it made another $140 million on video (not counting cable/broadcast sales).

South Park made $83 million in it's worldwide theatrical run, on a $21 million budget, with a $175 million on video (not counting cable/broadcast sales).

They, like the Simpsons, had a built in audience. But that could have (and has) backfired. But they were entertaining movies on their own.

Even the Rugrats films made a bundle!

2D/3D--I agree: WHO CARES! Make a great movie and I"ll go see it.

(speaking of--have you seen the horrible reviews for Christmas Carol? Both Variety and HR gave it thumbs down!)

wally wurld said...

So is King of the Elves going to be CG? Since it's so early in dev I was wondering if they locked down that decision.

Anonymous said...

I would put Surf's Up in the good movie/bad marketing category. It was actually a fantastic film.

Havent seen Astro Boy...

Anonymous said...

Actually, it wasn't a great movie. It was lazy and mostly boring. It has it's fans, but then, so does RockADoodle (!). The fact is, audiences rejected it and it flopped. Big time.

Anonymous said...

I love how people are so quick to protect Iron Giant.

Iron Giant is totally original. For sure E.T. rip off ideas from Iron Giant.

Anonymous said...

And E.T. was a rip off of Old Yeller. And Doc Hollywood was a rip off of an episode of the Andy Griffith show. blah blah.

Iron Giant was sincere. Can't say that about all of dreamworks films and a lot of recent Disney films.

Steve Hulett said...

King of the Elves is c.g., I believe, is of the computer graphic persuasion.

If they've locked down anything, they have neglected to tell me.

My 2 Cents said...

How ironic that Catmull and Lassiter find themselves in the role of defending 2-D when they were largely, (if inadvertently), responsible for it's demise.

It was the consistent success of the Pixar films in contrast to the failure of the last batch of 2-D films by Disney and Dreamworks that hung the collar of box-office poison on 2-D.

It will be very gratifying to see Lassiter & Co. undo the damage by example.

Brooke said...

Treasure Planet , Spirit pllu s other expensive, crappy films that no one wants to see killed 2D NOT the cg films.

Make a decent 2D film like "Pinocchio" original for instance and people will see it.

Anonymous said...

Astro Boy was excellent. Nothing "lazy" about it. It was marketed poorly and the timing of its release sucked. I work at a movie theater and I've never seen such a positive reaction to a family film as I have with Astro Boy. Only negative comment I've heard from moviegoers is about the political content, which I agree was unfortunate. But it hasn't affected its appeal too much - look at the user reviews at the Yahoo Movies message board. The people there gave the movie a B+, while movie critics gave it a C+. I'll take the word of moviegoers any day over jaded professional naysayers (especially since moviegoers pay my salary!)

Anonymous said...

Iron Giant is totally original. For sure E.T. rip off ideas from Iron Giant.

Iron Giant obviously uses elements that are explicitly IN E.T., but not in any sort of "ripoff" way-they're the same old chestnuts that have been around since the Year One. A relationship between a kid and his/her toy/pet/giant robot/alien goes back beyond "Old Yeller" and "The Yearling".
Even "Frosty the Snowman" courtesy of Rankin-Bass uses them FFS!

People laud Iron Giant because it's a superb little film that was a terribly unjust flop at the BO.

Anonymous said...

SURFS UP looked great but definitely had content issues.

trying to see Astro Boy before it disappears.

Anonymous said...

Article posted on the Wall Street Journal Online site Nov, 2, 2009, is reporting the budget of "The Princess and the Frog" as $150 million !

That can't be right ... can it ? (OMG)

WSJ article on POTF

Disney is always very secretive about actual production budgets, but early on I had heard that they were trying to keep the budget down on POTF to about what "Aladdin" cost to make in 1992.
(A quick search shows two different sites reporting the Aladdin budget as $28 million, but I'm sure that's wrong. I don't think it is possible that Aladdin was made for $28 million, even in those days of union scale workers, before the boom times.)

My guess ? I would think the POTF production budget was planned to be somewhere in the $60 to $80 million range. The animator and clean-up wages certainly were way below what they had been on previous Disney films in the mid-90's to 2003. If the film cost $150 million it wasn't from the animation crew's wages.

Does anyone know where the WSJ getting that $150 million figure ? (or just pulling it out of thin air like most "journalists" do when writing about animation ? )

If POTF's production budget actually swelled up to $150 million then someone is not doing their job correctly. There is no way it will recoup that cost during it's theatrical run (using the standard formula of 3x the production cost to cover the marketing and other associated costs , so it would need to make $450 million at the box-office to break even !)

Someone say it ain't so !

Anonymous said...

it ain't so--

Anonymous said...

$150 million is high, I believe.

The Simpsons Movie, with a huge crew and multiple rewrites, came in at $75 million.

Winnie the Pooh is budgeted at $35 million.

Disney farmed out a lot of cleanup, and the basic animation crew was relatively small and paid far less than big Disney crews were paid in the 1990s.

I think the WSJ has overshot the budget by $60-$70 million. But only Bob Iger (and a few others) know for sure.

Hugh Hogwarts said...

What? Wait. The new Winnie the Pooh film is going to cost $35 million??? How? Why?

Are they cutting corners or farming out chunks of it overseas?

Anonymous said...

150M not so.

Anonymous said...

"it ain't so--"

That's what I thought.

Someone needs to call out the WSJ writer on this. That's ridiculous to be that far off the mark.

It's amazing how careless much of the mainstream (business) press is when writing about animated films.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Let's get those bastards at WSJ because there's nothing more absolute then conjectures made anonymously on a blog! How dare they refute such proof that they're wrong! I'm sure they'll be a retraction immediately and heads will roll!

r said...

I believe everythings that's in print.

Elvis is alive too.


My 2 Cents said...

Maybe the WSJ figure includes the promotion, etc. budget. In that case, you can divide by three.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Disney tacked on JL's Hawaiian shirt expenses for a couple of years. That would certainly bring the budget up quite a bit.

Actually, the Frog budget would be much higher than if Disney had a 2D department already in place. In a lot of ways it would be the same as starting up a 2D studio from scratch and I supsect since they don't necessarily foresee spreading that overhead over the next few decades they probably tacked on the entire overhead to this one film.

Anonymous said...

It would be very nice if disney hired all of us they laid off in inn 1999

Anonymous said...

Disney's chief mistake is laying off good people.

It seems like it's what separates them from their competition right now.

Animated Response said...

Hopefully success will make sure there is job stability at the Hat Building just like Emeryville is having right now.

Anonymous said...

But "hopefully" not at Pixar prices...I'd like to feed my family and pay the mortgage.

Hugh Hogwarts said...

So are Pixar artist starving then? They seem to be pretty happy from the ones I've talked to. The cost of living in the Bay Area isn't that much difference from what it is down in SoCal.

Anonymous said...

They get paid (on average, not the guys who've been there since the beginning) about 26% less than their counterparts at Dreamworks or Disney

There was a thread a while ago posting the pay differences based on visa information

Anonymous said...

Oops, meant 25%, but whatever.

Anonymous said...

"The cost of living in the Bay Area isn't that much difference from what it is down in SoCal."

Yes, it is. MUCH higher. And Pixar pays far less than the industry average.

No wonder the employees are thinking of organizing.

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