Friday, September 06, 2013

Chasing Success

Leave it to our fine, entertainment conglomerates to clamber aboard a hot trend:

With French Animation on Fire in Hollywood, Bizzers Are Scrambling for Their Share

... France has always been considered a toon hotspot, thanks in part to such animation schools as Les Gobelins. The fact that “Despicable Me” and its sequel were entirely made at Paris-based Illumination
Mac Gu with budgets in the $70 million range and grossing $543 million and $720 million (and counting) worldwide, respectively, has only bolstered the reputation of local talent and facilities. ...

There’s more than animation talent behind the success of France’s toon biz. There are also a slew of rules and regulations that, in effect, subsidize it. For one thing, Gallic broadcasters are required to back local film and animation. ...

U.S. studios are also increasingly trusting French animation companies to reboot prized franchises with a modern and international flavor.

DreamWorks Classics chose Gaumont Animation over various European contenders. ...

And so on and so forth ...

Beyond the subsidies, there is also the tendency of large entertainment companies to pursue some pioneer's (In this case, Chris Meledandri's) world-beating strategy. It's really no different than when Jeffrey Katzenberg led Disney Feature Animation into the land of megabucks in the late 1980s and 1990s. It took only a few years for every other heavy hitter in Hollywood to try to replicate the Mouse's animation game-plan.

The resulting corporate face-plants (Warners with Quest for Camelot, Fox with Titan A.E., Turner with Cats Don't Dance) were almost instantaneous. And the enthusiasm for hand-drawn animation quickly died.

American companies sudden love for French animation studios reminds me of the earlier fondness for Disney-style animation ... right up until large sums of money went up in flame and ash.

We'll see if this time history repeats itself, or merely rhymes.


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