Friday, June 21, 2013

Bento Box and Original Programming

Bento Box, an animation studio that's only been around a handful of years, looks to do more development, and not just be a job shop for the Big Players.

Bento [Box} plans to partner with creative talent to develop wide range of animated programming — including traditional hand-drawn 2D, digitally hand-drawn 2D, CG and 3D animation, puppets, stop motion and live-action animation hybrids — for broadcast and cable networks as well as digital and emerging technology platforms. “Mark, Joel and Scott are true forward-thinkers who in a short time have built Bento Box into a great studio,” [veteran comedy exec Mike] Clements said. “I am very excited to join them in this new chapter as we strive to create some animated hits.” ...

Developing and producing original content is a fine idea, but it's harder to do in this corporatist age, where our fine entertainment conglomerates can distribute ... and own the entire cartoon enchilada.

There was, once upon a time, absolutely nothing unusual about smaller, independent animation studios developing their own properties, then licensing same to the broadcast networks. Hanna-Barbera did it as a matter of course. But it was easier in the days of actual, enforced regulations. Distributors were prohibited by law from owning content and the theaters and television networks that showed it. There were these anti-trust laws that discouraged overt monopolies.

Today, however, anti-trust regs and statutes are considered quaint relics from another era, and inside our corporatist state almost anything goes. So I'm not sure how keen Time-Warner, Viacom, Diz Co. and News Corp. will be about smaller entities creating and owning original content. There are, of course, all those "new media" platforms that the congloms don't control, but is there much in the way of Real Money to be made there?

I guess we'll just wait and see how this "creating original shows" idea pans out.


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